Richard “Rich” French passed away on May 30, 2022, at his home in Fairfax, Virginia. Richard was born on November 3, 1948, in Milwaukee, to parents Paul Henry French and Jane Marie Cody. Richard attended Minocqua Grade School and was a member of the Lakeland High School Class of 1968.
He graduated from UW-LaCrosse in 1972 with a teaching degree and went on to earn his master’s degree at the University of Alabama. After 15 years in the pharmaceutical industry, he returned to his education profession, teaching five years at the American School in Mexico City. He then taught 20 years in the Fairfax County Public School System until his retirement. 
The lives of Rich French and Debbie Harrington would become forever entwined in love and happiness on April 8, 2006, as they exchanged wedding vows in Fairfax, Virginia. Together they would spend the next 16 years loving each other and extending that infinite love to their family, friends, and community members. They spent endless hours going to flea markets and antiquing their way through the countryside. They loved to travel, together and with close friends, with Rich always happy to accommodate and become both chauffeur and tour guide. They reveled in the fact that if life presented you with an opportunity for happiness, it was their job to spread it around within their sphere of life. In those 16 years, Rich and Deb continued to nourish their relationship, one day at a time. The Fab Four got it right: all you need is love, love is all you need.
Rich loved to entertain, and cooking became one of his favorite things to do. He was always looking for a new recipe or a putting a new twist on an old favorite. Preparing food for family and friends was another way of sharing his love, along with a favorite cocktail or two, mixology skills he honed at the Minocqua Country Club during the summers of his college years. He was a “foodie” by nature, always looking for a new restaurant, often referencing the Wisconsin supper clubs of his past. He often said spending his “wonder years” in the Northwoods was the best of times, with his love of 60s music pounding in the background. Even though his residence was Virginia, he was a Badgers and Packers fan all the way, even bringing his own Cheesehead hat to school on game day.
To everyone whoever met Rich, he was a gentle, kind man who would do anything he could to help someone. He did not anger easily and put others before himself. He was a very strong man, as well, but never afraid to show his love or emotion. He was not hesitant to voice an opinion, but keeping in mind that agreeing to disagree can sometimes be an admirable trait.
He enjoyed the challenge in the classroom during his years at Fairfax High School. He often said it was important to help kids think as opposed to what to think. He was a successful educator because he believed in the potential of all students. He loved the satisfaction of meeting former students who wanted him to know that he made a difference in their lives. He received many tributes from former students on social media. He always saw teaching as something for the “greater good.”
Rich was a wonderful doting grandfather, lovingly called “Dobby.” He would talk for hours with the grandkids, telling stories, real and imagined, never tiring of this loving ritual. There were games to play, or a trip to the zoo or aquarium, or an afternoon at the pool or a sporting event. Life was never boring with “Dobby.”
Perhaps Rich’s greatest asset as a human being was his enormous capacity to embrace the value of friendship. He was a friend’s friend, someone you could count on no matter the situation. There were no tests of friendships or conditions of friendships, just a simple but honest commitment to be there in time of need. He relished his role as a friend and embraced it at every opportunity. He was good at it because he practiced the art of making friends since his LUHS days, always willing to put out a helping hand. He was sincere and fair and had an unconditional love of his fellow man. His testimony to the value of friendship made those around him loyal to each other as well. We all became better people, better neighbors and friends.
Richard “Rich” French will truly be missed by all who had the wonderful opportunity to meet him. His infectious laugh will continue to echo in the canyons of our minds for years to come, and that gentle trademark grin — much like the man himself — will continue to pull ever so tenderly at our heartstrings forever. Raise a glass of good cheer to a life fulfilled. Dance to the music. Celebrate. Preceded in death by his parents, sister Joanne Boeshaar. Survived by brother Robert French, sister Kathleen Hume Hagan, daughter Alissa McKowen (Jason) and granddaughter Cora and Maeve, son Michael French (Kim) and grandson Nathan and granddaughter Emily, stepdaughter Dana Kaufman and granddaughter Reagan, stepdaughter Jamie Wilson and granddaughters Lea and Leighton and grandson Brayden.
There will be a celebration of life in August in Fairfax. Condolences and remembrances can be sent to 4322 Majestic Lane, Fairfax, Va 22033.