Cover photo for James French's Obituary
James French Profile Photo
1928 James 2018

James French

September 15, 1928 — January 21, 2018

James L. French passed away peacefully on January 21, 2018 in his home in Naples, Florida. He was 89. Jim was born in South Bend, Indiana on September 15, 1928 to A.B. and Marie French. Jim is predeceased by his beloved wife of 41 years, Mary Lou Willard; his parents; his brother Raymond and his sister Betty Gordon. Jim is survived by his brothers Dale and Robert; his four children, David (Judy), Brian (Julie), Jeanna, and Paula (Bob) VanAkkeren; as well as grandchildren Natalie and James French, Clinton and Kaila VanAkkeren, and nieces and nephews. Jim proudly served his country as an artillery instructor during the Korean War from 1952-1954 and married his dear Mary Lou during his service in 1953. The first member of his family to attend college, James graduated from Tri-State College in Angola, Indiana with a degree in mechanical engineering.

Following positions with Diecast Corporation and its new owner Tecumseh Products in both Michigan and Wisconsin, Jim settled his growing family in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and founded J.L. French Corporation in 1968. Through Jim's employee-centered approach to management and leadership, what began as an aluminum die cast company, primarily manufacturing small-engine components, soon caught the attention of Ford and General Motors, who became steady customers. As the company thrived, Jim expressed an appreciation of his employees, supported the people of Sheboygan, and throughout his life gave back to the community through many forms of philanthropy. His generosity ranged from scholarship funds to construction financing for educational facilities. Jim sold J.L. French in 1996.

In his retirement years, Jim pursued his love of fishing, whether off a pier in Naples, Florida or off a boat in Belize or Little Cayman. He will be fondly remembered for his love of family, his innovative mind and adventurous spirit.

Services will be held on Saturday, February 10, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church, (310 Bluff Avenue, Sheboygan) with Rev. Jim Hollister officiating. Friends may call on Saturday, at the church, from 10:00 a.m. until the time of services. Please visit www.ballhornchapels.com to sign the guestbook.

In lieu of flowers, the family appreciates your consideration of a donation to The Memorial Fund of James French or the Alzheimer's Association.

Visitation
Saturday, February 10, 2018
10:00 AM 2/10/2018 10:00:00 AM - 12:00 PM 2/10/2018 12:00:00 PM
First Congregational Church

310 Bluff Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081

First Congregational Church
310 Bluff Ave. Sheboygan 53081 WI
United States
Service
Saturday, February 10, 2018
12:00 PM 2/10/2018 12:00:00 PM - 1:00 PM 2/10/2018 1:00:00 PM
First Congregational Church

310 Bluff Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081

First Congregational Church
310 Bluff Ave. Sheboygan 53081 WI
United States
Graveside
Saturday, February 10, 2018
4:00 PM 2/10/2018 4:00:00 PM - 4:30 PM 2/10/2018 4:30:00 PM
Lutheran Cemetery

Bordered by Wildwood Ave on North & New Jersey Ave on South
Sheboygan, WI 53081

Lutheran Cemetery
Bordered by Wildwood Ave on North & New Jersey Ave on South Sheboygan 53081 WI
United States
To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of James French, please visit our flower store.

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