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William Edward "Ted" French

1937 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
William Edward "Ted" French Obituary
William Edward French

Ridgeland, MS

William Edward (Ted) French passed away peacefully Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at St. Catherine's Village, Madison, Mississippi. The son of William Henry French Jr. and Ruth Hearon French of Byhalia, Mississippi, Ted was born July 14, 1937, in Memphis, Tennessee. Ruth Hearon French died three days after childbirth. When Ted was three years old, his father married Ruth Bobbitt French. Besides his parents and paternal grandmother, his aunt and uncle, Gordon and Frances French Houston, were guiding influences in Ted's life.

Ted graduated from Byhalia High School, Byhalia, Mississippi, in 1955. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Business from Mississippi State University in 1959 and was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Fraternity. Fallowing graduation he served in the United States Air Force. He later attended The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for the NALSA-Wharton Forum.

On February 23, 1963, Ted married Esther Jones Doughtie of Memphis. They were the parents of three children- William Edward French Jr., who died at seven days of age, William Henry French III and Esther Doughtie French.

In 1959 he began his career in the insurance industry becoming associated with the Memphis branch office of the Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland. In 1968 he joined the Barksdale Bonding and Insurance Agency in Jackson, Mississippi. Two years later he joined the Dan Bottrell Agency where he enjoyed success in the surety industry for the next thirty-two years. In 1993 Ted became President of the Bottrell Agency.

Under his leadership, he fought to enact the Graham Leach Bill, which helped abolish the Glass Stegall Act and allowed commercial banks and insurance companies to merge. Dan Bottrell's merger with Trustmark was the first of its kind under this new law. Following the merger, Ted remained as President of The Bottrell Agency and served as President of Trustmark Insurance Agency and a Senior Vice President ofTrustmark National Bank. In 2001 he became President Emeritus of The Bottrell Agency serving in that capacity until his retirement, January 31, 2003.

Active in community and business affairs, Ted served on the boards of directors of the Downtown YMCA in Jackson, the Metro Jackson YMCA, the Mississippi Road Builders Association, Jackson Preparatory School, the Development Foundation of Mississippi State University, the Country Club of Jackson, The Road Information Program (TRIP) and the National Association of Surety Bond Producers (NASBP). As an active member of NASBP, through the years he served as Chairman of NASBP Government Affairs Committee, as the NASBP Representative to TRIP, as the Chairman for NASBP Surety PAC, as the NASBP Chairman of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) Liaison Committee and Chairman of NASBP Professional Standards Committee. He also served on the Advisory Councils of the Aetna Casualty Company, Washington International and the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Surety. He was a member of the "21 Club" and the Calliope Club of Jackson.

An avid supporter of Mississippi State University, Ted was a member of the Bulldog Club, a Patron of Excellence of the Mississippi State Development Foundation and a member of the Leo Seal Society. He served as President of the Mississippi State University Hinds County Alumni Chapter in 1975 and as National President of the Mississippi State Alumni Association in 1984. In 1985 he was named Hinds County Alumnus of the Year.

Ted was the recipient of the Mississippi Insurance Women's "Businessman of the Year Award" in 1999. That year he also received the Bruce T. Wallace Award, for exceptional service to NASBP and the surety industry. He was inducted into the Mississippi State University Insurance Hall of Fame in 2003 and in 2007 the "William E. (Ted) French Scholarship" for the School of Insurance at Mississippi State University was established by The Bottrell Agency.

A active communicant of St. James' Episcopal Church in Jackson, he taught Sunday School, served as an usher for many years and was on the church vestry.

Before several back surgeries prevented him for participating, Ted was an avid duck hunter and a founding member of Oxberry Bayou Hunting Club. He also enjoyed playing golf and snow skiing with the family. In 1979 he and his wife began traveling abroad with their children. They enjoyed traveling extensively throughout the Caribbean, Europe, South America, China, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, and Iceland as well as the United States and Canada. After his retirement their travels continued and included their children and grandchildren. There were many memorable "Spring Break" trips to the Caribbean islands of Anguilla, Mustique, and Turks and Caicos and to Hawaii as well as numerous trips to Walt Disney World.

In 2001 the French's built a second home on Lake Chicot in Lake Village, Arkansas, where they enjoyed spending time with their family and friends. In Lake Village they were active members of Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Ted was devoted to his family and took great pride in the accomplishments of his children and grandchildren. Spending time with the family was his highest priority and having his grandchildren around was one of his greatest pleasures.

Ted was preceded in death by his parents, his aunt and uncle, Gordon and Frances French Houston, and his infant son.

Survivors include: his wife of fifty-four years, Esther Doughtie French, son, William Henry French III and wife Keelan Muir French of Memphis, Tennessee, and daughter, Esther French Virden and husband, Robert Brittain (Britt) Virden of Greenville, Mississippi. "Granddaddy" is also survived by grandchildren: Esther Alice (Allie) Virden, Virginia French Virden and Robert Brittain Virden, Jr. of Greenville, Mississippi, and William Edward French, III, Kaylan Elizabeth French and Katherine Grace French of Memphis. Other survivors include his brothers, Mark Henry French and wife, Mary, of Nashville, Tennessee, and James Austin French and wife, Belinda, of Columbia, Tennessee, and their families.

A visitation will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Thursday, April 27, 2017 in Fowler Hall at Sr. James' Episcopal Church. Visitation will continue at 3:00 P.M. Friday, April 28, 2017 in Oak Ridge Hall at Sr. James' Episcopal Church followed by a funeral service at 4:00 p.m. A graveside service will be held 2:00 P.M. Saturday, April 29, 2017 in the Byhalia Cemetery in Byhalia, MS.

In lieu of flowers the family suggests memorials to the William Edward (Ted) French Scholarship Fund, Mississippi State University Foundation, P.O. Box 6149, Mississippi State, MS 39762, or St. James' Episcopal Church, 3921 Oak Ridge Drive, Jackson, MS 39216 or a .

Sebrell Funeral Home

Published in The Commercial Appeal on Apr. 27, 2017
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