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John D. FRENCH

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John D. FRENCH Obituary
"A Life Well Lived" Age 79, of Minneapolis and Key West Passed away on August 18, surrounded by his loving family. Preceded in death by his parents, Rev. Horton I. and Margery Ritzen French and his first wife, Annette Richard French. Survived by his wife Berna Jo "B.J." French, sister Catherine (Terry) Klas, step-daughters Keri (Michal Daniel) Pickett and Kim (Mark) Mahling Clark, brother-in-law Roy Blakey, sisters-in-law Marian Blakey Spencer and Elaine (Michael) Brinda, nephews Jim (Joy) Klas, John (Poom) Klas, Mike (Deb) Klas, Mark (Josie) Brinda, nieces Karen (David) Moll and Marianne Brinda, plus many grandnephews and nieces and honorary grandchildren. Public memorial service 10 AM Tuesday, August 28 at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel. Memorials preferred to the Univ. of MN Medical Foundation for cancer research; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; or Trinity Episcopal Church in Excelsior, MN, to benefit the Horton I. French library. John was born in 1933 in Berkeley, CA, where his father was attending divinity school. The family moved to MN when he was five. He received his BA, summa cum laude, from the Univ. of MN in 1955 and attended St. Catherine's College in Oxford, England for one year as a Rotary Scholar. He served in the Army in 1955-56 before attending Harvard Law School, where he was president of the Harvard Law Review and graduated, magna cum laude, in 1960. His exemplary legal career began as a law clerk for Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter of the U.S. Supreme Court, followed by a year at the Federal Trade Commission. Returning to Mpls. in 1963, he practiced law at Faegre & Benson for nearly 40 years and served as chairman of the firm's management committee for many years. Considered an able appellate attorney, he argued cases before state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. His areas of specialization were business litigation and anti-trust law. His talents and contributions to the practice of law earned him many professional accolades and the respect of his clients, colleagues and adversaries alike. John was known for being intelligent, well-prepared, articulate, and a paragon of civility. In all aspects of life he was considered a great mentor and a kind, generous, caring and considerate man. Active in his community, John served as president of the Univ. of MN Alumni Association, vice chairman of the advisory committee of the Humphrey Institute, and a member of the overseers' visiting committee of the Harvard Law School. A passionate Democrat, he was associate chair of the MN Democratic Farmer Labor (DFL) party and a member of the Democratic National Committee for two years. He chaired the Mondale for Senate volunteer committee in 1972 and was treasurer in 1974. In the 1970s and '80s, he chaired eight state conventions and was a delegate to four national Democratic conventions. He co-chaired the U.S. District Judge nominating committee. John and his wife B.J. traveled widely, enjoying study tours abroad and in the United States. They shared a love of books and regularly read aloud to each other. He was a life-long student of history and ancient cultures. Ancient Greece and the civil war were among his favorite subjects in travel and in reading. Key West, FL became their winter home after retirement and he became a regular contributor to the Solares Hill section of the Key West Citizen newspaper, where his passion for history, literature and biographies came alive in thoughtful and entertaining book reviews. While this covers the highlights of John's life, it does not come close to reflecting the myriad ways in which he touched the lives of all who were fortunate enough to know him.



Published in Pioneer Press on Aug. 22, 2012
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