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DANIEL PHELPS FRENCH
In Loving Memory of Daniel Phelps French
Daniel Phelps French, a man of remarkable achievements and unwavering dedication, passed away peacefully on October 13, 2023, at the age of 79. Often quoted as saying he “wanted to die young, as late as possible”, he leaves behind a legacy of love, resilience, and a life lived to the fullest.
Dan was born on December 12, 1943, in Piqua, Ohio to Alfred Willard French, Jr. and Marjorie Phelps French. He remained grateful for having been taught the value of hard work and an appreciation for travel and life's pleasures. As a young boy, he embarked on a morning newspaper route, a venture that taught him the principles of service and customer satisfaction while nurturing his connection with the ever-changing seasons of nature.
Daniel's academic journey took him to the Phillips Exeter Academy, where he graduated in 1962, and later to Princeton University, where he earned his BA in Sociology in 1966. While at Princeton he pursued studies in Social Psychology, Philosophy, and even contributed to the university's computer center. He further displayed his leadership as a Cadet Colonel in Princeton's Air Force ROTC unit, culminating in a distinguished military career that began with his commissioning as a Second Lieutenant in the US Air Force the day before his Princeton graduation.
Dan's life wove through diverse experiences and challenges. In 1968, he served in the Republic of Vietnam as a member of a Special Operations unit, a testament to his courage and commitment to duty. After five years of active duty and 23 years in the Reserve, Daniel retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1994, having earned accolades and medals, including the Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon with V for Valor and one bronze OLC, Vietnam Service Medal with 2 Bronze Battle Service Stars, National Defense Medal with one Bronze Battle Service Star, USAF Small Arms Expert Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Medal with Palm and other decorations.
Dan married Margaret Taylor Loomis in 1970, embarking on a journey that saw them making their home in Piqua and traversing the globe. He regaled friends and family with stories of skiing instruction and fishing at the Little Sturgeon Trout Club in Michigan, SCUBA diving escapades across various locations, and his youthful days as the charismatic Rock & Roll DJ "Big Daddy Dan" on WPRB-AM & FM. Fluent in languages and skilled in joke telling and in the art of flight, he embraced every opportunity to learn, explore, and share.
In 1971, Daniel joined the family business, The French Oil Mill Machinery Company, a legacy begun by his grandfather, Alfred Willard French, Sr., in 1900. Dan completed the Harvard Business School Owner President Manager program in 1977. The education and training lead to his contributions which transformed the company by navigating economic shifts, expanding product lines, and leading international ventures, including establishing a Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprise in China.
French was a member of the Racquet Club, the Young Presidents Organization, Gold, an Associate Member of the International Institute of Synthetic Rubber Producers, and the American Oil Chemists Society, among other professional organizations.
His commitment to community and industry was unwavering, reflected in his roles as a Director of Piqua National Bank, the Ohio Manufacturers Association, the Piqua Country Club, a member of the Southern Ohio District Export Council, and other initiatives. Dan served on the Boards of the Piqua Memorial Hospital, the YMCA, and the Piqua Community Foundation. He founded Grow Piqua Now, Positively Promoting Piqua, and his leadership in community enhancement projects like the Hotel-Library Legacy Alliance and "Awesome Piqua" showcased his unwavering dedication to making the world a better place. In 2008, Dan was recognized as one of Piqua’s leading citizens by the Piqua Area Chamber of Commerce, with their highest honor for civic involvement and achievement, the “Order of George” Award. He also devoted years of service as a Trustee of the Columbus Beach Club in Indian River, Michigan, his happy place where his family made countless cherished memories.
Daniel's profound impact on the lives he touched is perhaps best epitomized by his devotion to family. He cherished every moment with his wife, children, and grandchildren. He always sought to create lasting memories, reinforcing his father's wisdom that investing in memories is the true wealth of life.
Daniel Phelps French's journey came to a close on October 13, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of all who knew him. He will forever be remembered as a man of integrity, resilience, and unwavering dedication to family, community, business, and the pursuit of knowledge.
He is survived by his wife, Margaret Loomis French, sister Susan French Muirhead (Urbana, Ohio), children Peter Loomis and Carolyn Gill French (San Antonio, Texas), Tayte French and Michael Lutz (Cincinnati, Ohio), grandchildren Laura Wells French, Amelia Gill French, Loomis Negley French, Estelle French Lutz and Dominic Rozzi Lutz. He was preceded in death by his parents Alfred Willard French, Jr. and Marjorie Phelps French, and his brother Alfred Willard French, III.
A visitation will be held on Wednesday, October 18th between 4 and 7 PM at the Fort Piqua Plaza, 116 West High Street, Piqua, Ohio. A celebration to honor Daniel's life will be held at a future date. The arrangements are being thoughtfully handled by the Jamieson and Yannucci Funeral Home.
Should a gesture of honor be desired in Dan’s memory, please consider contributions to the Piqua Community Foundation, 209 W. Ash St., P. O. Box 226, Piqua, OH 45356. In keeping with Dan’s generous spirit, these gifts will favorably impact people for many years. Guestbook condolences and expressions of sympathy, to be provided to the family, may be expressed through jamiesonandyannucci.com.
May Dan's spirit live on in the cherished memories of those whose lives he touched.
Piqua Community Foundation
209 W. Ash St. P. O. Box 226, Piqua OH 45356