March 8, 1939 — April 6, 2018
James (Jim) French passed away April 6 in Corvallis, the result of heart failure.
The son of James Byram and Nell Long French, he was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He graduated from North Hollywood High School in 1957 and continued his education at Oregon State, where he lettered in rowing and was a member of Delta Chi fraternity.
Following graduation in 1961, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps and served as a jet aviator until he was retired on disability as a Captain in 1969.
After leaving the Marines, Jim went to work in project management on the F-111 aircraft program for ITT, and was subsequently hired by the Aircraft Division of Hughes Tool Company in Culver City, California. At Hughes Helicopters, he was involved with numerous programs including the TH-55 Army Trainer, the OH-6 scout helicopter and the Apache Attack Helicopter. In 1970, he was named the Budget Manager for Hughes Helicopters and held that position until 1973, when he was promoted to the position of Budget Director for the Hughes holding company, Summa Corporation, headquartered in Las Vegas. Summa, in addition to the helicopter company, operated an airline, seven hotels and casinos, television and motion picture operations, major real estate holdings, ranches, mines, and numerous other activities. Upon the death of Howard Hughes, in 1975, Jim was named Director of Financial Planning. He left Summa in 1984.
His next position was as Controller for Broman Aircraft Corporation, a joint venture between General Electric and the Government of Puerto Rico to establish and develop an aircraft industry on the Island. He subsequently assumed the position of Director of Planning and Control. That program was discontinued after four years as Puerto Rico ran out of money.
Jim’s father, a pioneer in the broadcasting industry and Director of Engineering for CBS, had given Jim and his sisters his interest in a radio station in Lancaster, California. Jim joined the Board of Directors of the company and was named Vice President of Finance. Other members of the Board were looking for financial guidance at that time and Jim accepted the position of Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for Antelope Bus, California’s largest charter coach company. During his eight-year tenure, the broadcasting company acquired two more stations and the coach company grew from 85 buses and three operating yards to over 180 buses and six operating yards.
In 1998, Jim coordinated the sale of both the bus and radio businesses and retired. Retirement didn’t last long. Beginning in 2000, he was again active consulting on assignments in the aviation industry. He worked on programs for Mooney, Luscombe and Quest Aircraft and continued consulting up to the time of his death for numerous other companies.
Jim was preceded in death by his first wife, Linda, in 2008.
In 2011, he married Carol Trammell in Corvallis. He is survived by his wife; sisters, Susan Souveroff of Encino, California; and Kathleen Campbell of Sugar Grove, North Carolina; son, Scott of San Diego, California; daughter, Karen of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin; grandsons, Tyler and Connor French, Jacob and Matthew Grzeca; and granddaughter, Meghan Grzeca.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances should be directed to the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, April 20, 2018, at Suburban Christian Church in Corvallis.
Please leave condolences for the family at www.mchenryfuneralhome.com