Claude LaFRANCE

Obituary
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  • "Au nom de la famille Cormier, je tiens à vous soumettre nos..."
    - Richard Cormier
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    - Sergent Dubé MLM
  • "Dear Andre, Barb, Marc-Andre & Genevieve, I just wanted to..."
    - Carol Dimanche
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LaFRANCE, Claude
Major General (Retired) RCAF
July 1, 1929 – July 6 2014
Passed away peacefully at age 85 at Hospice Cornwall, less than two weeks after feeling tired following a game of golf, and a subsequent diagnosis of acute leukemia. Beloved husband of Monique (née Trottier) and Liliane (née Bréard, predeceased 1987), deeply loved by son André, daughter-in-law Barbara and grandchildren Marc- André and Geneviève, step-children Michelle and Joseph Ianni (Catherine) and their children Ronald and Madeline. He will also be lovingly remembered by his sisters Jacqueline (Guy Leclerc), Madeleine (late Roger Bourdon), his brothers Jules (late Aloha Sharkey), Paul (Micheline Renaud) and his many nieces, nephews and friends. He will be sadly missed by his many friends. Born in Québec City to Lionel and Gertrude (née Gallant), he attended Laval University, obtaining a Latin-Science Diploma, and, later a BA from Carleton University. In 1947, just before the outbreak of the Korean War, and taking up his father's tradition of military service, he joined the Royal Canadian Air Force. Training as a fighter pilot, he became one of 22 RCAF pilots sent by Canada to serve with the US Air Force in Korea. It was on August 5, 1952, while leading a flight of four F-86 Sabre jets, that Flt Lt. LaFrance shot down a Mig-15, becoming one of only a handful of Canadians to have engaged in air to air combat since the Second World War. For this action and on return to Canada after 50 missions, he was awarded the American Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. Following Korea, Claude continued his Air Force career, advancing rapidly though a variety of senior appointments, notably establishing Escadron Tactique de Combat 433 as a French speaking unit and becoming its first Commanding Officer. He later became Commander of Canadian Forces Base Winnipeg, Director General of Plans and Policy at National Defence Headquarters, Commander of 10 Tactical Air Group in St Hubert, Quebec, and Chief of Plans, Policy and Programs at NORAD HQ in Colorado Springs. In 1981, after 34 years of service and having accumulated 5000 flying hours in more than 35 different types of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, he retired from the Canadian Forces in the rank of Major General. He continued to be active in aerospace activities including from 1985 to 1989 as Assistant Deputy Minister Aviation in Transport Canada. Claude then moved on to become a consultant for the International Civil Aviation Organization, overseeing the development of aviation control systems in Albania and Lebanon. In 1994, he became President of Aerospatiale Canada Inc., which later became EADS Canada (now part of Airbus Group) and remained in that position until 2005. Widely regarded for his leadership and planning expertise, he served on a variety of boards and panels including being Senior Vice President of the Canadian Battlefields Foundation, Chairman of the Trustees Committee of Unmanned Systems Canada, and as a member of Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, and the French Académie de l'Air et de l'Espace. For his services to French aerospace he was inducted into the Légion d'Honneur in the rank of Chevalier. Having never fully retired, he found time to become an avid golfer, as well as being active in the Korea Veterans Association. But his main love was his wife and family who will always remain inspired by his zest for life, his integrity and being the epitome of a true gentleman. The family is grateful to the caring staff at Cornwall Hospice, who made Claude's brief time there one of deep respect and compassion. Friends are invited to visit Beechwood, Funeral Cemetery & Cremation Services, 280 Beechwood Ave. (east of Vanier Parkway) Thursday, July 10 after 1 p.m. A Celebration of Life will be held in the Sacred Space at 2 p.m. followed by Interment and Reception. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to www.cornwallhospice.com


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Published in The Ottawa Citizen from July 8 to July 9, 2014
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