|Birth: ||Jan. 23, 1927|
District of Columbia
District Of Columbia, USA
|Death: ||Apr. 27, 2009|
On Monday, April 27, Carolyn Howard French succumbed after a brave battle with cancer, surrounded by her loving family.
The daughter of Dr. William J. and Dorothy Waring Howard, she was born in Washington, DC, but lived overseas for many years, traveling around the world, making friends and extending her warmth and hospitality to everyone.
French broke molds in all walks of her life: as an educator, family historian, political activist and a member of numerous civic and social organizations. She was a natural leader who enjoyed the process of creating and implementing change, and at various times was president of most of the organizations she joined. She also was a voracious reader and lifelong learner who continued her education at every opportunity.
Throughout most of her life French undertook extensive research projects that focused on the Howard, Waring and French families and involved all of her children and many of her grandchildren in trips to libraries, courthouses and archives in hot pursuit of information. At various times she was a member of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, the Historical Society of Washington, and the Orange County Historical Society. She was a founder of the Orange County African-American Historical Society.
A fifth-generation Washingtonian, French spent her early years in the historic Strivers section of Washington, DC. She attended the Garden of Children, which was founded by her mother, from age two until third grade, going on to Garrison Elementary School, Shaw Junior High School, the Paul Lawrence Dunbar High School and Mount Holyoke College. While at Mt. Holyoke, Carolyn met her future husband David M. French.
They married in 1945 and became the parents of eight children. French instilled in her children a love for the written word, precise language and intellectual curiosity.
During their 63-year marriage, French and her husband lived in Washington, DC; Cleveland, Ohio; Boston, Massachusetts; Detroit, Michigan; Newton, Massachusetts; Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire and Barboursville, Virginia. In each place she and her family lived, her time and energy were focused inwardly on family and outwardly on creating social change.
French's career as an educator began at the Garden of Children, and included teaching positions at schools, Head Start programs and day care centers in Washington, DC and Massachusetts. In Côte d'Ivoire she served on the board of the International School.
In addition to her work in support of early childhood education, French worked in many capacities to ensure the rights of all citizens. She won the respect of civil rights leaders for courageously driving the family van, converted into an ambulance, during the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 and the Meredith March in 1966.
French's last 23 years were spent with her husband at Brownland, her ancestral home in the Virginia Piedmont. She became an active member of the Orange County Branch of the NAACP executive committee, established the Orange County Council on Race Relations and served on the Orange Downtown Alliance. She was appointed to the Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services Board and was recognized by the Orange County Board of Supervisors for her work. Additionally, she was elected an officer of the Orange County Democratic Committee and ultimately served on the Orange County Board of Elections.
As a founding member of the Friends of Barboursville, Carolyn was active in a successful effort to prevent strip mining in Barboursville, which resulted in preservation of the ecology, and a historic and thriving African-American community.
She is survived by her husband, Dr. David M. French; children, Lynn Carol, Mary Ann, David Jr., Howard Waring (Agnes), Joseph Blaine, James Albert, Bertha Mae French (Guy Harkless) and Dorothy French Boone (Elwood); as well as 14 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
A memorial service was held Monday, May 4, 2009, at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church, 1701-15th Street, NW, Washington, D.C.
David Marshall French (1924 - 2011)
Created by: Andie Parrish
Record added: May 02, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 36622908