Eric Paul French
January 15, 1949 – April 1, 2021
On April 1, 2021, surrounded by his loving family, Eric “Rick” Paul French of Fairfax, Virginia left this world a better place than it was when he entered it. He was born on January 15, 1949, in Massena, New York to Audrey M. Carmichael and Watson P. French. He attended elementary school in Massena and Rochester and later moved to Arlington where he ran a successful paper route for the Washington Post and The Evening Star. He attended Stratford Junior High and spent one year at W&L High School where he played varsity baseball as a freshman. His family moved to Fairfax and he was a member of the Fairfax High School Class of 1967 yet completed graduation in 1968 due to a serious car accident his senior year. This afforded him the opportunity to build many additional life-long friendships and meet his future wife and best friend, Patricia “Patti” Weese.
Married on July 25, 1969, Rick and Patti have had an eternal bond for nearly 52 years. They are true soulmates. Having grown together from a very young age and through the ups and downs of life they have always respected, supported and balanced each other. They have cherished every stage of life and their deep love is apparent to everyone who knows them. They were blessed with three children and their spouses: Debbie (Doug) Bymers, South Riding, Virginia; Eric (Ansley) French, Gainesville, Virginia; Kara (Jay) Custis, Fairfax, Virginia. As well as nine grandchildren: Emily, Mallory and Megan Bymers; Layla and Dylan French; Leah, Andrew, Ryan and Wyatt Custis.
Rick began his career at Honeywell as a draftsman while attending Northern Virginia Community College before deciding on a career as a Masonry Contractor. For over 40 years he and his company built numerous hotels, schools/daycares, homes, and other masonry works of art throughout Northern Virginia and the DC Metro area. Many who know him are also fortunate to enjoy his work at their homes. In 2003 Rick became a Grandpa for the first time and was a natural for the part. Every grandchild that joined the family became the highlight of his life and after he retired he spent many days at home running Grandpa’s Daycare which included four-wheeler rides, music & history lessons, playing with tools in the shed and rocking to sleep in the recliner.
During his leisure time he played ice hockey, baseball, softball, and was an avid bowler. He coached countless baseball teams for his 3 children, from T-ball to Legion ball, spanning two decades. As a baseball fan he could be found watching the Reds, Orioles, and later the Nationals. Having grown up in Massena and Rochester, New York he brought a love of hockey with him when he moved to Virginia. A Capitals fan from the beginning, he never missed a game.
Rick was also a history enthusiast who enjoyed studying ancient cultures such as the Egyptians, Aztecs and Mayans as well as the assassination of JFK. As a music afficionado Rick owned an extensive catalog ranging from blues to country to jazz to rock to zydeco- you could always count on a tune playing in his backyard when you stopped by. He made live music a weekly part of his life by listening at one of his favorite local spots and often jumping in to participate on drums. He began playing drums in high school and worked in many bands for nearly half a century. Rick was passionate about gathering friends and family together, organizing many reunions and get-togethers and was always the last man standing at the party.
He and Patti, and often with their children and grandchildren, enjoyed traveling to their favorite places including Quebec, Canada, beaches of the Eastern Shore, Key West, ruins in Mexico, traveling by cruise ship, and embarking on several multi-state adventures throughout the US.
We know his friends will miss him dearly and his family will miss him immensely as he is the pillar in our lives. What joy he brought to everyone he knew with his endless collection of stories, astute humor, infectious laugh and generous heart. We love you Rick, Dad & Grandpa!
Tuesday, April 6, 2021
Eric Paul French
April 5, 2021
He's up there lecturing Zappa right now.
Russ & Chrys in Chapel Hill
April 5, 2021
Truly shocked and saddened to hear this news, Patti, Debbie, Eric and Kara. Our friendship with Rick and Patti doesn't go back as far as some, but I really enjoyed looking at those stories and I can definitely see that Rick's sense of adventure goes back many years, even to age 7 when he navigated the mean streets and saw his little friend to safety. In our case, David and I met Patti when she worked at NVBIA and through her we came to know and love Rick too. He and Patti accompanied us to many Builder Association events where we often had our own party going on. One memory that sticks in my mind is when we attended a Builder's Ball. I was supposed to get an award, and when we arrived I was told that the Executive Director had decided this wasn't the venue for the award. He decided to give it at a board meeting. I was not happy, but Rick was incensed on my behalf. As we sat down at our table with about a dozen other attendees, Rick proceeded to tell everyone at the table about the award, what it took at achieve it, and how the Executive Dir had made a very poor decision to leave it out of the awards line up. He had everyone at the table captivated by this story, and I'm sure I got way more sympathy and attention that I'd ever have gotten if it had been carried out that night. After the ball, we came back to our place where Rick and David shed their cumberbunds and bow ties, and continued the party well into the wee hours of the morning with Rick and my husband David jamming on guitars. We love you all and we will pray for you all in the upcoming months as you encounter your year of firsts without your rock.
April 4, 2021
To your whole family we would like to offer our deepest condolences. I have known Rick since Fairfax High, we had Art 1 together. I have many happy memories from “ the Circle” and the good times we had. Rick will be missed by all. Richard and Sue
April 4, 2021
I met Rick only a few times because my brother, Doug Bymers, joined his family just as I was leaving the DC area. I marveled at Doug and Debbie's wedding his willingness and delight in performing with his band at their reception. I recall "dancing up a storm" at that party, with Rick's beat on the drums as the backbone. His ability as a drummer are a metaphor for the way he kept his family tightly knit and joyfully engaged with each other. He was their backbone, their hero, their steady compass. I don't like using the word "was" because his family is and will be an enduring legacy to his strength and enormous love.
April 3, 2021
Rick was the one I felt would be dancing on all our graves. He was so full of life. Loved listen to him playing the drums especially at Fourth of July bash at the French’s home. His family was the most important part of his life. His face would light when talking about Patti and his kids. My family has so many fun and happy memories of Rick. His passing has left a hole in the hearts of all that knew him. We will miss him a lot.
April 3, 2021
I doubt few of you can go this far back with Rick; he was assigned the duty of walking me (and himself) from our grade school (as we all had to go home for lunch -- near a mile each way). So he made sure that this first grader (6 years) old got to his Gramma's apartment for his small tin of Heinz beans and a coined hot dog. Ricky did this at the ripe old age of 7. That journey was a daily adventure, crossing some reasonably busy streets, past and through all sorts of trials and tribulations on the way. But he always stood by me, and his laugh was just as infectious then as it is in my ancient head now. We made it Rick, in more ways than one. Thanks for the walks my friend and a lifetime of memories. Our Delaney condolences to Patti, the children, grandchildren and those who have ever taken the walk with this fine man.
April 2, 2021
Patty and family. Your love of Family was apparent. So sorry. Rick was always fun and entertaining. Love and prayers to all of you. -Donna
April 2, 2021
My deepest condolences to Rick’s entire family. Rick and I shared a long history both as friends and later as family. A life too short but with memories that will last a lifetime.
April 2, 2021
I was so sad to hear of Rick’s passing. He was a great father, a hard worker, and an overall terrific human being. I am grateful for the times I was able to spend with him and Eric while playing baseball and the fun times we all always had in the basement on Ranger Rd. He will be greatly missed, but our memories of him will live on forever. I wish all of you the best during this difficult time.