Ord Civic and Business leader William B. “Bill” French, passed away on February 26, 2017 in Chandler, AZ at the age of 87.
William was born December 11, 1929 in McCook to Otto and Maybelle Bradley. Otto was tragically killed in an automobile accident on December 24, 1929 just a few blocks from the Hospital on Norris Ave. after visiting Maybelle and William. Maybelle remarried Robert H. French a few years later and William was adopted by Robert, joining twin brother and sister Robert Jr. and Nanette.
William graduated from McCook High School and Community College. Bill married Mildred Berry in McCook in 1948 while serving in the US Army during the Korean War. Two children were born in McCook to this marriage Valarie and Ernest.
Upon returning from the service Bill worked for Herman Funeral Home. He became a District Manager for Fuller Brush in 1956 moving to Grand Island, NE. He became a State Farm Insurance Agent in Ord, NE in 1960. He served the Ord and Central Nebraska Area for over 50 years retiring in 2010. He was the first Nebraska Agent to earn Lifetime Presidents Club for State Farm and was extremely active in giving back to his community and the area.
Bill served as Mayor of Ord for two terms, He started and served as the first Exalted Ruler of the Ord Elks Lodge, served as Ord’s Chamber of Commerce Manager, was a volunteer firemen with the Ord Fire Department, and was a member of the VFW and Toastmasters. He was a past State President of the Nebraska Jaycee’s, and served on many other area and state organizations. He earned his Eagle Scout Award at age 15 and continued his leadership in the Boy Scouts his whole life, being honored with the Silver Beaver Award, Boy Scouts of America’s Distinguished Service Award.
While Bill worked hard, he played harder. He was founder of the Sherman Yacht Club, and was a 4-time National Sailing Champion, pilot, golfer, scuba diver, and snow skier. As a young man was a District Golden Gloves Champion and served 4 years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Bill is survived by wife Nancy of Casa Grande, AZ. Daughter Valarie Fruit of Discovery Bay, California. Son Ernie (Carol) French of Johnson Lake, Nebraska. Step sons Mike (Kim) Fredrick of Atkinson, Nebraska and David (Michelle) Fredrick of Lawrence Kansas. Grandchildren Jennifer (Marc) Caro of Tucson, AZ, Noah (Shelly) French of Goodyear, AZ, Nathan (Haley) French of Aberdeen, Scotland, Ashlee French of Burbank, CA, Katie Fredrick of San Diego, CA , Eddie Fredrick of Atkinson, NE, Alex and Oliver Fredrick of Lawrence, KS. Brother Robert French of Fort Lauderdale, FL sister Nanette Baumfalk of Colby, KS, and numerous nieces and nephews.
Bill was preceded in death by his mother Mabelle French, father Otto Bradley, step father Robert French, wife Mildred French, and grandson Joshua Durand.
Memorials can be left to the Boy Scouts of America, or the Ord American Legion Post.
Celebration of Life Services will be held in Lexington, NE on Saturday May 20, 2017 (details at a later date) and on Saturday March 11, 2017, at 2pm at 11 South Mission Parkway, Bldg 2, Casa Grande, AZ.
Bill’s ashes will be placed in Fort McPherson National Cemetery at Maxwell, NE.