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Roofer killed in Rye accident remembered as devoted brother, outdoorsman

FRANKLIN — David W. French, the “happy-go-lucky” middle child of 14 siblings who died Monday in a roofing accident, was a devoted member of the huge family around him, his siblings said Tuesday.

“He was a great brother and a great uncle, and that’s how we’ll remember him,” said David French’s eldest brother, James French Jr.

David French, 58, died Monday after falling from a ladder while working on a roof in Rye, his brother said (see obituary page B6).

He was the first of the 14 children of James Sr. and Verna French to die, said James French Jr. He said the siblings ages range from 48 to 66.

“This is the first experience we’ve had in losing a sibling, which is amazing in itself. It’s kind of a strange feeling,” he said. “Most of us are pretty healthy. We’ve been fortunate.”

One of David French’s younger sisters, Sherry Ames, said her brother was an avid outdoorsman who loved hunting and camping. She said he’d proudly display pictures of the first deer he took each hunting season.“He had bragging rights every year,” she said.

Ames and James French said the family had a terrific time growing up on the nearly 20 acres in Hill, near Franklin.

“We had our own baseball team,” Ames said. “It was a lot of chaos, I’m sure, for our parents. But we had a lot of fun. We were all friends.”

James French said his brother was a recovering alcoholic who’d devoted himself to mentoring other alcoholics at Webster House in Franklin.“He was alcohol-free for 15 years and we were all very proud of him for that,” James French said. He said his younger brother, the seventh child of the 14, was rarely without a smile and loved spending time with his stepdaughter, grandson and numerous nieces and nephews.“He was happy-go-lucky,” he said. “He always looked at the positive side of things.”

tbuckland@unionleader.com



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