In Memoriam: Charles French (December 2002)

Aug. 16, 1917 – Nov. 4, 2002

Charles H. French, age 85, Brooklyn Center, Minn. died peacefully at home.

He had a lifelong commitment to civil and human rights, and had been an active member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, along with his wife Dorothy, since 1982. Charles had served as a Foundation Board member from Minnesota, and regularly attended Foundation conventions.

Charlie, who had a degenerative illness, took control of the end of his life, deciding when to stop taking his live-sustaining medication.

Charlie served 15 years as a minister in the American Baptist Church, always a liberal, with special interest in civil rights and fighting racism, working with the NAACP and Freedom Riders. He joined the Minnesota Human Rights Department where he worked until he retired in 1982.

Charlie gave a speech about leaving religion at the 1985 convention in Minneapolis, which was reprinted in Freethought Today.

“I highly recommend atheism to anyone and everyone,” said Charlie.

He became an active member of the Minneapolis area freethought community, and was honored by the Humanists of Minn., the Minnesota Atheists and the Freedom From Religion Foundation of Madison, WI.

He is survived by his wife, Dorothy, and children, Jane (Richard) Bovard, Fargo, ND; Don, San Francisco; Doris French and Alice (Richard) Fowler, Chanhassen; Nancy French, Plymouth; Robert, Minneapolis, and Pam French (Kent Carlson), Shorewood. His stepchildren are Clay (Mary Lynn) Oglesbee, Northfield; Jeff Oglesbee, Minneapolis; Brent (Holly) Oglesbee, Bowling Green, Ken.; Sondra Oglesbee, Brooklyn Center, and 11 grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

A memorial service was held on Nov. 29 at the First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis. In lieu of flowers, his family prefers memorials to donor’s choice. “His cheery presence, activism and practical assistance to freethought will be missed,” said Foundation president Anne Gaylor. “We send our best wishes to Dorothy.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation