Roderick T. French (1918-2017)

Roderick T French

June 16, 1918 – August 11, 2017

Roderick T French, age 99, of O’Fallon, born June 16, 1918 in Chicago, Ill., passed away August 11, 2017 at Memorial East Hospital, Shiloh, Ill., following a brief illness.

Rod grew up in Ganges, Mich. (where the water and air were clean), and graduated from high school as a standout basketball player. Following the tragic death of his father in an automobile accident, he moved with his mother and brother to Florida to attend college.

In 1942, he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps Medic Group. Taking advantage of the shortage of pilots during the war, Rod jumped at the chance to train as an aviator. Upon graduation from pilot training, he was joined in California by his high school sweetheart, Marguerite Heinze, formerly of Fenneville, Mich., and they married May 13, 1943 in Fresno, Calif. Soon after their wedding, Marguerite bravely saw him off to Kimbolton, England. While stationed there, Rod flew 33 missions in the B-17, while serving with the 326th Bomb Squadron. His many service decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, National Defense Service Medal, and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters. His military stations also included Labrador, Canada, Okinawa, Mississippi, Ohio, and Illinois, before his discharge in 1944. He then returned to college to complete his chiropractic studies and settled in Dearborn, Mich. with his wife and two young children. In 1952, he was recalled for non-combat service in the Korean Conflict, due to his skills in electronic radar construction and repair. In 1968, he retired from the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel, and settled in Illinois to continue his chiropractic service.

In his spare time, he enjoyed golfing, woodworking and hand-canning. Rod never met a card game that didn’t challenge him to win; he outwalked anybody anywhere and lived for his wife’s cooking. He scored a hole-in-one once, but rightfully attributed it to the favorable wind, not his skill. Rod and Marguerite have joyfully lived at The Colonnade Senior Living residence in O’Fallon, which has provided a safe, supporting environment and has enriched their senior lifestyle. The French family is indebted to the loving, professional service provided by the staff at The Colonnade, Memorial East Hospital, and Hospice of Southern Illinois. Rod will be greatly missed by all he met – both near and far.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of Southern Illinois. Condolences may be extended to the family by visiting

Surviving are his wife Marguerite; daughter Patricia; son Rick; brother Loren; grandchildren Thorston (Julie Durkee) Tichenor, Joshua French, Chad (Aimie Jory-Hile) French; great-grandchildren Daniel and Sophia; and son-in-law Peter Tichenor.

The family received friends from 2:00 – 4:00 pm, Tuesday, August 22, 2017 at The Colonnade, 700 Weber Rd., O’Fallon, Ill.

Burial will be at a later date at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis County, Mo.

Arrangements entrusted to Wolfersberger Funeral Home, O’Fallon, Illinois