Charles French, 92
Charles was born Feb. 7, 1931, in Richland, Texas, to EJ and Jewell French. He spent his formative years in Texas, until the age of 15, when his family relocated to California. In 1949, he graduated from Tulare High School and enrolled at the College of the Sequoias. His life took a new direction in 1951 when he enlisted in the Air Force.
During his assignment at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, Charles crossed paths with Shirley Lee McCarty from Pennsylvania, who was serving as a WAF (Women in the Air Force). Their blind date blossomed into a lifelong partnership, and they exchanged vows in Opp, Ala., on Jan. 21, 1953. The family's journey began with the arrival of their first child, Charles Jr., in December 1953. Their second son, Jeffery in June 1956, and in November 1960, they completed their family with the birth of Pamela.
During his military service, Charles had the opportunity to introduce new experiences to his family and journey to various locations, both within the United States and internationally. These destinations included Walker AFB in Roswell, N.M., Offutt AFB in Omaha, Neb., Anderson AFB in Guam, Fairchild AFB in Spokane, Wash., Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Mont., and Allied Forces Central Europe in the Netherlands.
Charles concluded his 29-year career in the Air Force as a distinguished Chief Master Sergeant at Mather AFB in Sacramento, Calif. During his unwavering service, he served in two wars — the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Among his numerous commendations, the Bronze Star stands out as one of his most distinguished decorations.
Following his retirement from the Air Force in 1980, Charles and Shirley relocated to Kellogg, Idaho. There, he assumed the role of Director of Security for the Bunker Hill Mining Corporation. After the mine's closure, Charles began his third career as a police sergeant at Eastern Washington University until his eventual retirement. Notably, he achieved the distinction of becoming the oldest graduate of the Washington State Police Academy at the age of 57.
Charles and Shirley chose the scenic surroundings of North Idaho as their permanent residence, remaining close to their children and grandchildren in the Spokane area. They set out on journeys up and down the West Coast and throughout the country in their motorhome, crafting cherished memories and a legacy that prioritized family above all else.
During periods when they weren't traveling, Charles was engaged in local politics, took pride in his affiliation as a Mason, and was a member of Silver Valley's VFW. One of his most notable accomplishments late in life was his integral role in the planning, fundraising and construction of the Silver Valley Veterans Memorial in Kellogg.
Charles was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Shirley, his son, Charles Jr., his sisters, Ida, Violet and Ima Jean, brother Gary, and his last partner, Trudy Roberts.
He is survived by his children, one son — Jeffery French of Spokane, one daughter — Pamela (Kevin) Wick of Spokane, six grandchildren, Charles French III, Collin (Laurie) French, Nicole (Nic) Fischer, Jefferson French, Shaylin Wick and Noland Wick. Eight great-grandchildren, Kyle, Jayden, Charlie, Isabelle, Elise, Lily, Kyran, Autumn and Cole. Numerous extended family members, Alexis Alexander, Kristin Smith, Shelley Pozzi and Brandy Santos.
Cremation was held at Pacific Northwest and memorial services will be held at Washington Veterans Memorial in the Spring of 2024.