At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
A salt of the earth sort of man, Roger French was a man of great character and integrity who lived life to the fullest each day. He was a hardworking man whose word was as good as gold and could be counted on whenever there was a need. Accompanied by the love of his life throughout the majority of his journey, Roger witnessed his family tree blossom to include the children and grandchildren he treasured. He relied on his faith as his moral compass and was an active member of his church. Life was not without struggles for Roger, but he faced everything that came his way with quiet strength and unwavering courage that is truly inspiring. He will be dearly missed and warmly remembered.
The 1950s were a colorful time in American history with numerous changes within our cultural fabric. Televisions were becoming more commonplace with shows like I Love Lucy to entertain us while Elvis Presley and his rock ‘n roll music took the world by storm. This was also a decade that saw serious issues, too, such as the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union, Rosa Parks and her strong stand on an Alabama bus, and the addition of Alaska and Hawaii as our 49th and 50th states. It was with great anticipation that a young couple from Kalamazoo, Michigan, greeted the cold weather of winter as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child. Their wait was over on December 13, 1956, when the baby boy they named Roger made his arrival. He was the oldest of three children born to his parents, Norman and Betty (Miller) French, and he was raised in the family home on the farm alongside his siblings, Bruce and Diane.
It could be said that farming was in Roger’s blood as he loved it right from the start. They raised dairy cows and grain on over 200 acres. When he wasn’t farming Roger was a student at Mattawan schools and also enjoyed playing flag football and basketball. It was during his formative years that he developed a liking for more basic foods. In fact, Roger has been described as a “plain Jane” eater throughout his entire life.
As a student Roger eventually began attending Faith Baptist Academy, which is where he became acquainted with a fellow student who stole his heart. Her name was Dawn. It wasn’t long before Roger and Dawn began dating, and they were sweethearts throughout their high school years.
After graduating from Faith Baptist Academy in 1975, Roger went on to take some classes at Tennessee Temple University. He became fast friends with his roommates, Chuck Rawsthorne and Brad Taylor, and together the roommates had a ton of fun. After a couple of years, however, Roger decided that college wasn’t a good fit for him and returned to the farm where he became partners with his father. He, Brad and Chuck remained good friends for the rest of Roger’s life, and Chuck is even the current pastor at Faith Baptist Church.
Not to be forgotten during Roger’s years as a young man was his relationship with Dawn that continued to blossom. Deeply in love, he married his sweetheart on January 27, 1979, at Faith Baptist Church. A few months later, they took a honeymoon to Niagara Falls. Together Roger and Dawn were blessed with three children: Ethan in 1980, Jonathon in 1986, and Melissa in 1996. They raised their family in Mattawan for about ten years before moving onto the farm on Stadium Drive in 1998 where they had about 200 acres, on which they raised their own crops and dairy cows. Roger loved tractors and felt just at ease on a tractor as he did behind the wheel of a car. He taught his daughter how to drive a tractor, and he also taught her how to drive a semi. Roger was also very hands-on with his kids in teaching them how to tear things apart so they could learn firsthand how to put things back together. He was always very mechanically minded, and Roger loved sharing that with his children. His beloved companion, Jody, a Husky, German Shepherd, and Chow mix, was like another member of their family, and Roger loved her companionship. She even loved riding on the equipment with him and was useful, too, since she knew how to catch and kill the pesky woodchucks.
In his free time Roger enjoyed spending time doing some of the things he loved. One of his favorites was taking road trips on the back roads, just he and Dawn, when they went exploring. Roger also liked going to his parents’ cabin in Baldwin, and although he wasn’t a hunter or fisherman he just loved being outdoors. Puttering around on their pontoon boat was something Roger also enjoyed. He was active at his church, and since he was great with technology he ran the sound system there for several years. Roger took flying lessons, although he never got his pilot’s license, and he also liked to study maps. He was a Michigan State University fan, especially when it came to basketball. Later in life Roger was thrilled to become a grandfather to Blake and Caden, and he liked riding around with them on the gator or driving around on the farm. He was like a human jungle gym when it came to his grandsons as he loved just laying on the floor and letting them climb all over him.
Life was not always easy for Roger. He suffered with Parkinson’s disease for the last 11 years of his life. Roger was able to work for some of it, but when milking the cows and other farm chores become too much for him about five years ago he did stop working.
Described as caring, dependable, and patient, Roger French was an extraordinary man to know and love. He loved his meat and potatoes and always managed to do just fine without any vegetables. Roger’s family was first and foremost in his life, but farming was certainly a vital part of his life as well. His memory will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of his loved ones.
Roger French died on August 13, 2013, at his home. Roger’s family includes his wife, Dawn French; 3 children: Ethan McCormick, Jonathan (Nicole) French and Melissa French; 2 grandsons: Blake and Caden French; his parents, Norman and Betty French; 2 siblings: Bruce (Cheryl) French and Diane (Rick) Oakes; 3 nephews: Jeremy Eggers, Aaron and Caleb French and a mother-in-law, Patricia Dickinson. Learn more about Roger and visit with his family and friends on Thursday from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive; 375-2900. Private burial at Genessee Prairie Cemetery. Services will be held Friday 11:00 a.m. at the Faith Baptist Church, Mattawan (56070 Murray St.) followed by a luncheon in the fellowship hall. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory. Memorial contributions may be made to a Faith Baptist Church, Mattawan.