Leslie Vinton French, Jr., of Boulder, died on Friday, January 17, 2014 at the age of 94. He was born on June 24, 1919 in Worthing, South Dakota, the fifth child of seven born to Bernice McKinney French and Leslie Vinton French, Sr. He is the last surviving member of that family. Leslie spent most of his childhood in Mankato, Minnesota, where he graduated from high school. Like many of his generation, his early years were influenced greatly by the Depression. He was proud that he could help his family by working from a very early age at successive jobs as a newsboy, a shoeshine boy, a golf caddy, and a factory worker. As a young school boy he became enamored of the trumpet and strove to earn enough money to buy one for himself. His love for the trumpet persisted throughout his life and determined his fate during World War II
. His college education was interrupted by his enlistment in the military. He was serving as a radio operator when, because he had qualified musician papers, he was plucked from an air base and sent to England to play in the Eighth Air Force Flying Yanks band. The band's mission was to help raise the morale of suffering wartime British citizens as well as the military personnel stationed there. They played hundreds of concerts and dances all over wartime England, including double dating with Glen Miller's band, at the London Palladium, and at Buckingham Palace for the Queen. After the war Les resumed his education at the University of Minnesota
where he earned a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Psychology and met his future wife, Nancy Hickman, in a statistics class. They were married in 1949 and had four children. Theirs was a devoted life partnership filled with love and much laughter. Les went on to earn a Masters Degree in Business Administration and Organizational Management at Michigan State University
. During his career he became an expert in designing management training programs and held senior managerial positions at several major corporations, including 3M, Whirlpool, Hallmark Cards, and Russell Stover. In 1974 Les and Nancy moved to Boulder and were able to realize a lifelong dream of owning their own business. They owned and managed Table Mesa Cards and Gifts for over 20 years.. Les was known for his great personal charm, his strong work ethic, his ability to make people laugh, his creativity, his interest in world affairs, his love of learning, his tremendous personal integrity, his warmth and kindness, and most of all his devotion to his wife and family. He was a lifelong avid and talented golfer who played until the age of 86. Les also enjoyed reading, socializing with his many friends, writing poetry, talking about current events, family vacations, and telling amusing stories. In addition to Nancy, his loving wife of 64 years, Leslie is also survived and will be greatly missed by his children: Ann Knight (Frederick) of Wayland, MA; Judith French of Boulder, CO; Thomas French (Monika) of Papenburg, Germany; and Sara Ostrom (Mark) of Longmont, CO. He is also survived by six adored and adoring grandchildren and one great granddaughter: Jay and Kyle Ostrom of Longmont, CO; Lindsay Ostrom of Denver, CO; Melanie and Emily Knight of Wayland, MA; and Celia Knight along with her husband Jason Shelkowitz and daughter Shelly of Carlisle, MA. A private family memorial service was held at the First Congregational Church in Boulder on Friday, January 24, 2014.