We've Moved!

Obituary & Eulogies














We've Moved!





The following obituary appeared in the local newspapers:

PETER W. FRENCH
 
Peter Warren French, 27, of Winchester, died suddenly on Monday, April 29, 2002. He was the son of Leslie (Sanger) and Evander French, Jr., also of Winchester.
 
Peter was born in Winchester on December 26, 1974. He attended the Winchester Public Schools and graduated from Winchester High School in 1993. A member of the National Honor Society, the Drug and Alcohol Peer Education Program, and the Multi-Cultural Network, he also sang in the Octets. Peter had a passion for sports and played varsity soccer, basketball, and tennis. He was a three-year starter in soccer, a Middlesex League All-Star his junior and senior years, and a tri-captain of the Middlesex League Championship team in 1992. He was the point guard of the 1992-93 basketball team that made a serious run in the State Tournament. He played varsity doubles in tennis for three years, serving as co-captain his junior and senior years on teams that won consecutive Middlesex League Championships.
 
During his early years, Peter participated on many town teams including Youth Baseball, Youth Soccer, and Youth Basketball. During the first of his three years on the Bambino Baseball All-Star Team, Winchester won the Massachusetts State Title before losing in the New England Finals. He played the piano and drums, and also participated in a Middle School presentation of "The Wizard of Oz".
 
Peter majored in Political Science at Colgate University and graduated in 1997. He was a member and officer of Sigma Chi Fraternity, formed a Club Soccer Team, and was active in the Intramurals Program as an administrator and participant. During the first semester of his junior year, he was a Visiting Student at Brandeis University where he played Varsity Soccer.
 
Following graduation, Peter worked at John Hancock, Fidelity Investments, Satellite Asset Management in New York City, and most recently as an Information Analyst at Wellington Management Company in Boston. He maintained an interest in music, reading, physical fitness, sports, and travel. His greatest qualities were personal warmth, generosity and kindness, an infectious sense of humor, a love of humanity, and unwavering loyalty to family and friends.
 
In addition to his parents, Peter is survived by two brothers, Vandy, 30, and Chris, 19. He was a beloved nephew of Mardy (Sanger) and John Miklus of Chatham, MA and Debbie (French) and Bill Parker of Stamford, CT. He is also survived by a great aunt and seven cousins.
 
Funeral services were held at the First Congregational Church in Winchester on Saturday, May 4, 2002, followed by interment services at Wildwood Cemetery, Winchester. Lane Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. For those who wish, memorial donations in Peter's memory may be made to the Winchester Sports Foundation, PO Box 493, Winchester, MA 01890; or to Colgate University Scholarship Fund, 13 Oak Drive, Hamilton, NY 13346.

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The following eulogies are from the Funeral Service on May 4, 2002, in the order in which they were read:

Our Beloved Son, Peter
by Evander French, Jr. (Peter's father)

The entire French family expresses its deepest gratitude for the numerous expressions of love and support to Peter's many friends from Winchester, Colgate, Newport, New York and Boston, to Vandy's and Chris' many friends, to the family's good friends in the school system and in the town, to Peter's co-workers and the management team at Wellington Management Company where Peter worked, and to Reverend George Waterbury and the marvelous people at the First Congregational Church. Your kindness has overwhelmed us and sustains us!

Peter will understand if I don't speak to you directly today because he and I are alike in so many ways - we care about what we do and the people around us and we sometimes wear our emotions on our sleeve. I am fond of saying (because its true) that Peter inherited his good looks from his mother and his bordering on stubborn, "lead with you emotions" nature from me.

I am filled with wonderful memories of Peter:
**The time that Leslie and I spent selecting his name, Peter, which means rock in Greek. We selected the name because we liked it. He has certainly been our rock of strength in the family. Warren came from his grandfather, Chester Warren Sanger, who truly personified the word gentleman, just as Peter did.
**The fact that Leslie and I reached the finals of the annual Husband and Wife Tennis Tournament in the Summer of 1974 when Leslie was five months pregnant with Peter. His perseverance and toughness rubbed off on us before he was born!
**The feeling of total exhilaration that I experienced when he was born the day after Christmas in 1974 and the many half birthdays we celebrated on June 26 for Peter, as how can you fully celebrate a birthday on the day after Christmas?
**The games of "Big Chest" at our first home on 27 Ledyard Road in Winchester as Big Chest chased Peter and Vandy around the house (much to mother's dismay), and how Peter stared in amazement at how quickly Big Chest would disappear and reappear and his mild mannered, loving father would appear and disappear.
**The ease with which Peter learned to read, to ride a bike, to swim, and to take part in athletics.
**The site of Peter and his next door neighbor, Chad Ferrari, whizzing down our steep driveway at that first home in their big wheels, expertly guiding these vehicles to a perfect stop in our backyard, but not before barely missing a tree stump and stone wall at the end of their ride.
**The EnKa Fair Parade competition that Peter entered as Snoopy the Red Baron with his mother's expert help, and the dazzling first place prize he won - a brand new Mongoose bicycle with all the bells and whistles.
**The magical moment when Peter was seven and served as the ring bearer in his Cousin Joanie's wedding ceremony as he walked down the aisle looking very angelic and proud in his powder blue tuxedo.
**The piano lessons and recitals with Carol Fieleke and the drums and the junior high concerts - oh how Peter loved to go into the basement and play his drums as the whole house shook - we still have that drum set as on occasion, even later in life, Peter greatly enjoyed pounding away on his drums.
**The brief acting career in Junior High School as a farm hand in the Wizard of Oz.
**The delightful Christmas Eve pageants at the First Congregational Church in which Peter further displayed his acting talents as a shepherd and as one of the Wise Men.
**The joyous Christmas mornings with the whole family and the trips later in the day to Simsbury, Connecticut to have Christmas dinner with the Miklus family and to enjoy a few days of "cousin togetherness."
**The many years of athletic involvements as Peter was a great athlete who loved to compete and who loved to work out and keep himself in great shape. Soccer, basketball, baseball, and tennis were his favorite games.
**The opportunity to coach Peter in youth baseball and basketball and that special 7th Grade Basketball Team that won 30 games and lost just once (winning every tournament it played in) and his talented teammates, Matt, John, Jamal, Shaun, Jeff, Scott, Josh, Kirk, Todd and others.
**The great soccer games Peter played in youth soccer, at Winchester High School, in college, indoors, and in the Men's Summer Soccer League and the opportunity for Leslie and me to watch Peter play. One of my greatest joys in sports came several summers ago when Peter, Vandy, and Chris all played Summer Soccer together and Leslie and I were able to attend all of the games!
**The experience with the Octets his Senior year in High School as he explored and immensely enjoyed this late in his high school career choral opportunity.
**The many books, newspapers, magazines, and catalogues that Peter consumed as he was an avid reader.
**The family vacations to Chatham in the Summer and to Florida during the February School Vacations to visit Nana and Grampa and the numerous trips to Disney World and Busch Gardens. More recently, the family trips to Barbados and the wonderful cruise on the S.S. Norway and Peter's deep, natural tans from these experiences.
**The way Peter could turn a room upside down in the blink of an eye lash - he could be a very lovable slob at times!
**The gas guzzling Ford Bronco, the 1989 Jeep Wrangler, and his Vintage 1996 Ford Corbra Mustang Convertible, and our many challenging experiences with these vehicles.
**The dogged, successful efforts on Peter's part to find jobs that were meaningful and satisfying.
**The recent Sunday night tennis matches when Peter joined our men's doubles group and how great it was when I teamed up with him.
**The birthdays and anniversaries over the years and Peter's special way of telling you how much you meant to him and how much he loved you with moving cards and thoughtful gifts.

These are wonderful memories that just scratch the surface. Leslie and I have been very blessed with three great sons - we are so proud of each of them! Their love and support for each other has always been very special. Peter is a superb role model for his brothers, and, indeed for all of us. He worked hard and he played and partied hard. He enjoyed life to the fullest. He never gave up in whatever he did, was graceful in defeat, was extremely loyal, and truly cared about others. He was a real friend to many, a true brother, and a loving, devoted son. I can't begin to tell you how much Leslie and I love him and how much we will miss him. Our grief is beyond description. But our love for him and your love for him fills this sanctuary and this town and is boundless. And it is this love that will remain with us always and help sustain us and Vandy and Chris in the difficult days that lie ahead.

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Tribute to Pete
by Chris French (Peter's younger brother)

Before I get started, I'd like to add to the previous thanks by my dad. The turnout last night and here today is just amazing and overwhelming. It has given us strength and a great sense of satisfaction to see how many people Pete touched during his life. It just shows how people can pull together in the most difficult of times, so thank you from the bottom of my heart and the bottom of my family's hearts to all that have helped.

When I decided to take this semester off from college, the main purpose was not to spend more time with my family. But as it turns out, that is the best thing that I will take away from my semester home. For whatever reason back in December, I just had a feeling that I wanted to be home instead of at school. I couldn't place my finger on it at the time, but I think I can now. Maybe it was a sign, I don't know. But I was lucky enough to be able to spend my brother's final five months with him, in the same house no less. In case you didn't know, the three French boys had all moved back home and were living with their parents, just like the good ole days. The only difference was that the three of us had grown up and there wasn't nearly as much family feuding going on. The three of us got to play soccer together a couple last times. I was able to wonder how anybody could eat a dinner and shower so quickly. And I was even able to go to a Celtics game with Pete a few weeks ago. I'm very thankful that I got to spend these great times with him the past five months.

Between all the hugs and the tears and the sleepless nights, I have done a great deal of reminiscing about the 21 years of my life and about Pete's life. The two were always intertwined, and I know neither of us could imagine growing up without the other. In more recent times, Pete and Vandy have been best of friends. There wasn't a weekend that went by when they weren't together. But back when Vandy was in high school and college, and was out with his friends or away at school, Pete and I did many things together. We have never been outspoken to each other about how we felt, but we knew. There was always that mutual silent understanding that we were brothers, loved each other dearly, would be together forever, and nothing would ever change that. But there have been many interesting moments over the years that will live in my heart and my memory forever. I'd like to share a few of these memories with you, to give you a little glimpse of Pete's amazing character.

The first thing that comes to mind when I think about him is his stubbornness. Not in a bad way, but whenever he had an idea in his head, you could be sure he was going to do it, no matter what rhyme or reason, or even what his family members, may have said. About ten or fifteen years ago, Pete badly wanted a hamster as a pet. Finally, my parents gave in and let him buy one, who he aptly named Mugsy. After a little while, Pete began to feel bad for Mugsy because he was all alone, with no other hamster friends to keep him company. So somehow or other he convinced my parents to buy another hamster, with the obvious understanding that it would be a male because we didn't want any Baby Mugsys running around. Well after a couple weeks of having these two hamsters, sure enough we had about one hundred baby hamsters running around our house, and I mean literally around our house. They'd escape from their cages, somehow find their way into the attic and pipes throughout the house, and on one occasion, even into our pet cat's mouth. Apparently Mugsy's new friend wasn't a male, but hey, Pete got his way and had his two hamsters.

Then there was the time Pete was determined to play Pop Warner football. Soccer had been the main sport in his life then, just as it always would be. But for whatever reason, he wanted to try something new. He wasn't the big, strong, muscular guy that he is now. A little on the skinny and lean side, he wasn't going to give up until he got his way. If my parents hadn't finally given in and said he could try it, he would probably still be bugging them about it today. But they did give in, and he did go to the first two days of tryouts. His football career was extremely brief, however, as it lasted just those two days. He had in his mind these grand visions of just showing up and being the star running back or quarterback. I have no doubt that he would have been the star, but these ideas were quickly diminished after two straight days of nothing but pure calisthenics. He quit football after two days and that was that. He had once again got his way, and it was time to move on to another endeavor that he would set his heart on.

Related to his stubbornness was his strong competitive nature. Pete hated to lose, but more importantly, you would never see him give less than 100% in whatever he did, be it a high school tournament game, a meaningless pickup game of basketball, his job, and especially partying with his friends. He played hard and did everything to the best of his ability, and this usually resulted in him being the best. This sentiment was proved to me a couple weeks ago, when the three French boys were playing together in a co-ed indoor soccer game. We were winning about 10-1, and most of us weren't playing very hard anymore. But Pete was still busting his butt, stealing balls from poor helpless girls, and shooting rockets on goal. After the game he said to me, I hate games like this cuz I just can't play half-assed in anything. That was the attitude he lived by all his life, even as a child growing up. And, unfortunately for me, this was shown to me numerous times throughout our childhoods. On many occasions, we found ourselves facing off one-on-one in just about every imaginable sport - nerf basketball and soccer in the basement, wrestling on our parents big bed, wiffle ball and handball in the front yard. You name it and I'm sure we battled in it. Being six years older than me, of course he felt he should win every time we played. But there were those few times where I would actually be winning, and he would get pretty irritated. When these times arose, there was about a 100% chance that it would end with me crying to Mom about how he had cheated and hurt me. He played as hard as he could, even if it included a physical beating to his little bro along the way.

He wasn't just a winner when it came to sports, though. He was a winner off the field as well, and particularly in the arena of girls. If you could be sure of one thing in life, it was that a girl would be calling the French household daily to talk to Pete. I think I fully understood the idea of Peter French the ladies man at a pretty early age. I very clearly remember being in 8th grade and receiving a phone call from a girl in my grade. Naturally I was all excited because I figured she was calling for me. Well she was calling for me, but unfortunately was calling to tell me how hot Pete was and how lucky I was to have such a hot brother. Not what I was looking for. A few years later, during the summer after my freshman year of college, I was again reminded of Peter French the ladies man. One of my friends had gone off to Colgate University, Pete's alma mater, and upon seeing me one afternoon, he said, "You never told me that your bro was such the ladies man!" Intrigued by his statement, I responded with, "What are you talking about?" He said, "I don't think I met one girl who didn't know your brother. He's a legend at Colgate!" Luckily for me I think, I didn't go to Colgate. By choosing elsewhere, I wouldn't have to be told every day how lucky I was to have such a hot brother. I had already learned that lesson, thanks.

As I said earlier, I am currently taking the semester off from college. However, while home I have been taking two courses at a local college, one being called American Heroes. We take a closer look at the men and women who have changed lives throughout the course of history. Well, my brother has certainly changed my life and helped me get to where I am today. Whenever I needed help on anything, no matter how big or how small, he was there with an open hand and an open heart, ready to help. I know I am not the only one he extended this hand to, and the number of people here today and yesterday attests to that. He deeply affected many of us, and he has changed a great number of lives along the way. Don't believe for an instant, though, that just because he is no longer physically with us that he will no longer be affecting us. He will continue to shape and guide me as a person just as he has my whole life, and I know he will be shining down on me. Pete, I think now is as good a time as any to tell you how I truly feel. Our silent understanding should remain silent no more, because the world needs to know how special you are. They should teach a course just about you because you are my hero - you always have been and you always will be. I love you more than these words or any words can ever hope to express, and not a day will go by when I won't think of you. You'll always be my friend, my mentor, my hero, and most of all, my brother. Rest in peace bud, and I'll see you soon.

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Letter to Pete
by Vandy French (Peter's older brother)

Dear Pete,

I don't even know where to begin. What you have meant to me over the past 27 years goes so far beyond words, but I'll try. This letter is my way of saying goodbye for now, until we meet again in a much better, gentler place. I know you're high above watching and listening to this right now, and are nodding your head in acknowledgement, knowing how much I love you, and that is a very comforting feeling. There weren't many words left unsaid between you and me, and that's how life should be. We weren't afraid to show our feelings for each other, or embarrassed to say we loved one another. We didn't say it all the time, but we didn't have to. We both just knew. Everyone could see it in so many of the things we did for each other, both as brothers, and as great friends. I think that is what makes this all so extremely difficult for me; when you passed away I lost my brother and my best friend at the same time.

Back when we were kids I remember so many things that we did together: our trips to Florida to visit our grandparents, our days by the pool at the Winchester Boat Club, our adventures in our yard on the slip-n-slide, our sleepovers in each other's rooms, me baby-sitting for you when Mom and Dad went out, reading you stories and playing Atari. The list goes on and on, but the biggest thing I remember about our childhood was how much better my world became once you came into it. I now had a partner in crime, a little brother to play with, to joke with, to tease, and to love. You were always the dare devil of the French brothers, Pete. Watching you speed down our driveway in your little blue Big Wheel at thirty miles an hour verified that. You weren't afraid of anything. You learned to swim when you were so young, you played sports with all the older kids, and you would always sled down the steepest hills. I always admired that in you, Pete. You never let fear stand in your way of anything, and you carried that quality with you for your entire life.

Through our teen years you were my biggest supporter and fan. You were always there for me trying to help in any way possible, and you really looked up to me. Although it may not have seemed like it at the time, it always meant a lot to me. Having a little brother tagging along for everything you did might not have seemed "cool" when you were thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen years old. But it was to me. I loved having you around, Pete, and I always picked you to be on my team. Together we could beat anybody. We always felt that way: when we were on the same team nobody could beat us, no matter what the sport or challenge. That feeling only grew stronger over time. You were such a great competitor who never wanted to lose at anything, and I was the same way. Together we thought we were invincible. I remember watching you be the youngest player on the All-Star baseball team. You were ten and all the other boys were eleven and twelve. Despite being the youngest, you were the best hitter on the team. As you got into high school, you were a great soccer and tennis player who teammates loved and respected but opponents feared. I remember seeing you sing your senior year with the Winchester High School Octets, and was so proud. Everything you did, you did so well, Pete.

As we got through high school and into college I missed having my kid brother around. I think that's when I realized even more how important you were to me, Pete. I had gotten so used to having you around, and had enjoyed your company more than I expected. That's when I promised myself to value each and every time we spent together in the future. I only wish I knew how soon those precious times would come to a sudden end. But we certainly did take advantage of the time we did have! These last 27 years, we did more things together than most brothers and sisters share in a lifetime. We spent so many nights out together in Boston and Newport. We went on three cruises together. We went to Cancun together. We lived together in Brookline, and we have lived together at home in Winchester. We played on dozens of teams together over the years, and went to so many sporting events. We planned many parties together, and just about did everything together.

Over the years I watched you go from a scrappy young kid with a big heart and a big smile, to an amazing young man with the world at his finger tips. I have never in my life known someone who was as adored and loved as you, Pete, and that's not just by Chris, Mom, Dad, and me, but by everyone who came into contact with you. I don't know anyone in this world who doesn't think the world of you, Pete. Your amazing generosity, your contagious smile, your loyalty to your friends, your whimsical and silly manner, your hard-working nature, your loving compassion for everyone, and your never ending desire to make sure that everyone around you was having a great time and felt included were qualities so divine and rare.

Which brings me to why God may have called upon you so soon in your life. Do you remember your days as a Doorman at The Big Easy in Boston? You would check ID's, welcome people into the club, and generally make sure the night went smoothly so everyone could have fun. I believe that job summed up who you were perfectly, Pete: welcoming everyone to your home, wishing them all a good time, and doing everything in your power to make sure they all had a great evening, even at your own expense. The Big Easy was lucky to have you (as we all were), and I think that God has called upon you to do the same for Him now. The famous Saint Peter must be tiring of his duties at the Gates of Heaven, and who better to replace him as God's Doorman than you, Pete? I know you'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt as you always did, and you'll be fair and compassionate. Plus, you're the closest thing to an angel I've ever seen.

How do I try to wrap all these memories into a few brief pages, Pete? I can't. But you know that you were an enormous part of my world and that you will forever be in my heart and my soul. I would do anything to change what's happened, but alas, you know I cannot. I always thought as your big brother I could protect you from everything. I'm so sorry that I couldn't protect you from this. I tried, Pete. I really did. A big part of me died with you Monday night, Pete. My life will never be the same without my first brother in it. We had so many things yet to share. We were going to move in somewhere together, you were going to be my best man when I got married, our kids were going to play with each other, and we were going to grow old with each other. All of those dreams are impossible now, but my love for you will never end. You were the best brother a guy could ever have, Pete. You were also the best friend a guy could ever have. You may have looked up to me as your big brother, but I also looked up to you in so many ways, and admired what an amazing, wonderful person you were. There will never be another one like you, Peter Warren French. You'll always be in my mind, in my prayers, and in my heart. Farewell for now. I look forward to seeing you again at Heaven's Door where we can go inside and do it all again. Just please make sure I get in! I love you Pete!

Love,

Vandy

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Memories of a Friend
by Shaun Oliver

It's funny, the last time I was here, it must have been sixth or seventh grade, I was sitting up in the balcony. Peter had somehow prodded me into coming to church with him. After the service had begun, Peter turned to me and said that he had forgotten to tell me something - that all the new people at the church had to go up to the front and sing their name and where they were from in front of everybody. I asked if he was kidding, and he said no, that he had to do it when he first came, and it wasn't that bad. I sat next to him for what seemed like an eternity, sweating, thinking I was going to have to sing my name to everyone. And finally, when he couldn't take it anymore, he busted out laughing and had a grin ear to ear because he had fooled me. But that's the essence of Peter.

Mrs. French asked Jeff and I to say a few words about Peter. I will be speaking on our behalf, and I am sure that our sentiments speak for all of our friends.

Jeff and I have known Peter since the third grade. We were trying to come up with a story that really encompasses everything that he is, and we had a really hard time. Not that there aren't any stories, but every time we thought of one story, it led to so many more memories.

I am sure that anyone here could stand up and tell a hundred stories about Peter and how he did something great, made us laugh, or just acted like a friend. He was truly someone that was larger than life. He did everything and was good at everything. But most importantly, he did everything in a unique way that gives us the fond memories that we hold with us today.

There were so many different sides to him. When I first think of Peter, I think of Peter the athlete. Many of us know Pete as a great athlete. Since as early as I can remember, he played every sport imaginable - soccer, basketball, and tennis to name a few. As we also know, as good of an athlete as he was, he was also notorious for being a tremendous sportsman, always gracious in victory or defeat, always complimentary of opposing players and teams, always keeping his cool. No doubt something he picked up from his older brother, and passed on to his younger.

I remember once Pete, Jeff, and I were playing tennis, and Pete had always beaten me 6-0, 6-0. But for some reason, I had hit a couple of lucky shots, and took a game off him. It was the crowning achievement in my athletic career, and I smiled a little at him before retreating to the baseline to serve. As I turned my back and walked away, all I heard was a ball whiz by my head. I turned around and Peter was launching tennis balls at me. For the next 5 minutes, he chased me around the courts, while Jeff fed him balls to hit me with. Thanks Jeff. And we have always been so thankful that he was our teammate rather than playing against us.

Then there was Peter the writer. Some of us knew Peter as a great writer. He loved writing stories, loved writing papers, and we all thought that he was destined to be the next great Boston Globe columnist. But if Pete enjoyed writing stories, he loved writing emails even more. Many a time we would be at our desks at work, and we would see that Pete had sent us an email. Instead of being the normal "Hey, how are ya?" it would be some strange yet hilarious poem about a helmet-wearing duck, which he had constructed out of the blue, that he just needed to share. And you can almost see the huge smile on his face after he hit send. We would spend the rest of our day talking to other friends wondering what world he comes from? And where does he come up with this stuff?

And then there was Peter the Party Planner. Peter took so much joy organizing get-togethers for his friends, whether it was a bar crawl, where he cut out all our 7th grade pictures and put them on our score card with some embarrassing caption below, or getting people to come see his brother DJ. Inevitably, he would show up wearing some outrageous costume that immediately made everyone smile, and immediately made you understand that the festivities were beginning.

However, the best side of Peter was Peter the friend, which is why we loved him so much. Whether it was some encouraging words or just lending an ear, you knew that you could always count on Peter to be there for you no matter what. I remember the summer before my junior year in college. My Mom had been sick, but I really hadn't mentioned it to anyone. Peter one day sent me a letter, first, telling me that everything was going to be okay and that he was there for me if I needed anything. But he also told me how upset he was that I hadn't come to him with my problems. That's the type of friend he was. He was hurt when you were hurt, and he did anything he could to take that pain away.

Peter has been our best friend since third grade. But whether you have known him for 20 years or 20 minutes, he had a way of making everyone feel special, and you left a better person because you crossed his path.

This week has been terribly hard on all of us, but I think all of us would agree that Peter would want us to celebrate the life that he lived, and would want us to go forward and live each day to the fullest, just as he always did. We miss our friend Peter, but we know that he will be watching over all of us, and know that somewhere, somehow, he is already planning a party for when all of us meet again.

Thank you very much.

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Words of Remembrance for My Best Friend
by Dan Hennessy

I'd like to take this opportunity with all of you not only to mourn the loss of Pete, but also to celebrate Pete's life. We have a lot to learn from Pete's life, the values he kept, and the example he set. He was so full of life.

Pete had this stuffed animal named Stew that he had since he was very young and he took him everywhere. Stew was this mangy, old, beat-up dog. His eyes were gone, his fur had worn out, he barely had any stuffing left. He basically looked like a gray dishrag with arms and legs. I used to poke fun at Pete about Stew and hang Stew out the car window on road trips (that would drive Pete nuts). But, despite that, Pete stuck by Stew.

The way Pete treated Stew is analogous to the way he treated those close to him. He saw through Stew's flaws and still kept him around, just like he saw through our flaws and saw us as his friends.

You see, friendship meant a lot to Pete. And as many of us boxed up or discarded our stuffed animals long ago...Pete didn't. As many of us lost touch with old friends...Pete didn't. It's very easy to lose touch with good friends as the years go by. You don't have time, people have an argument, etc. But Pete made an enormous effort to maintain his ties with old friends, and I always respected that about him. The simple fact that there are so many of us here from all of the stages of Pete's life - his good friends from Winchester, Colgate, and those he has made since - attests to the degree to which Pete touched all of our lives and has been the glue that has brought so many of us closer to each other.

Pete was always generous and his generosity never had any strings or expectations attached to it, except to return the friendship. Pete always made his friends feel special. He was someone to trust, he had a heart of gold, and he always put a smile on your face. Pete went the extra mile for his friends. He was the guy that would remember your birthday and give you a card; he'd be the one calling to invite everyone to go out or to a party so nobody felt left out; he was the guy that would bail you out if you were in trouble and to console you during tough times. Pete was also never one to judge his friends and you could confide in him. I used to joke with him that he would make a great psychotherapist, or even priest, for any time I had sinned and it bothered me, I could tell Pete and he would reply with his customary "Dont worry about it," and I would feel absolved. He would of course follow up with sound advice.

When I met Pete at Colgate, I liked him immediately. I quickly noticed that people gravitated towards him. He was charismatic, fun-loving, witty, and just plain fun to be around. But Pete French quickly proved that he goes a lot deeper than being just "the fun guy" with the commitment and loyalty he showed to those close to him.

As we all gathered from Evander Jr. and Sr.'s and Chris' accounts, Pete was also a loving brother and son in addition to a true friend. I know that the Frenches are a very tight-knit family with Mrs. French acting as the backbone. The Frenches have a tremendous enthusiasm for sports and spent many years bonding together while cheering on, or screaming at, the Sox, Pats, Celtics, and Bruins. I admired that. Mr. French was a stellar baseball player in his day, and Pete, Van, and Chris looked up to that so much. The fact that they were all so involved with sports and all wore the same number 10 on their jersey that their father had worn exemplifies the respect they have for their father.

Pete will be remembered by us all as a model son, loving brother, and great friend. Pete, losing you has left an empty place in my heart, and I speak for us all when I say that we will truly miss you.

Three Hearts

by Rob Thatford
 

P-Ditty, French Daddy, The Rock, Frenchie, Pete, or Peter. I can't begin to describe the kind of person that Peter was. I know I don't have 6 nicknames. Although I am up here speaking, I am speaking on behalf of all of Pete's friends. I guess we have been labeled "The Newport Crew". He had the most friends out of anyone that I knew. He also created friendships. I know he did for us - Dean, Ted, Dan, and especially Vandy, or Van the man as Pete would say. I never met anyone that people wanted to be around more than Pete. He really was "Money". We know this because he used to tell us all the time.

 

We were all looking at pictures on Tuesday, and every picture that Pete was in, he was smiling with his arm around someone, usually dancing. He loved everyone just as much as we all loved him. He possessed so many great qualities, yet he always seemed to admire others while everyone admired him. He was the one person that was always there when you needed him. He had an uncanny ability to sense something was wrong with you. He would go out of his way to pick you up and he would always find a way to make you happy. Scott Dinneen told me that he believes God puts angels on this Earth, and that Pete was our angel. He was like a brother to all of us. Anytime we had a get together, or a party to celebrate someone's birthday, or a themed party that Vandy was Djing at, you always wondered what Pete was going to wear. It was probably the most common asked question - "What's Frenchie going to wear?" He would always show up in some crazy outfit - his gold Elvis suit, pimp daddy hats and elf shoes, or most recently a dress with Dean. Even then he would still have girls walk up to him or ask about him. They would ask me,"Who is that? Is he your friend? He's hot!" I always had the same reply - "You do see that he is wearing a dress and elf shoes right?"

 

Pete had a passion for music and sports like no one that I have ever met. I can't put the radio on or listen to a CD without thinking of Pete. That's probably because he made everyone's CD's. But he didn't just give them to us. He put thought behind every CD that he made. I don't know how he found the Albanian flag for CJ's CD. Each person has songs that Pete knew you liked and they were on your CD. Even songs that you didn't remember hearing, but he heard you say that you liked that song - it was on your CD. He also knew everything about sports. I couldn't understand how he would memorize the sports page and know every stat about the Sox, even if the stats weren't that good, which is pretty much all of the time. I also couldn't believe that he played tennis, along with soccer and basketball. Every Sunday, no matter what was going on, he never would miss playing tennis with his father. As a joke one day, we were all wearing Pete's old Winchester sports jackets out to lunch. We happened to run into one of Pete's old coaches or a family friend. Seeing Pete wearing his Winchester soccer jacket, he just put his arm around him and shook his head.

 

Pete was always the life of the party, whether it was in Boston, New York, on a cruise ship, in a small town called Newport, or an even smaller town in upstate New York called Hamilton (where Colgate is). None of these places will be the same without him.

 

I can remember the first time I met perfect male specimen. Tall, chiseled chest, big arms, six pack abs. I thought to myself, this kid's a stud. I could probably meet girls just standing next to him. Then he introduced me to his stuffed animal Stu, who later I found out was a dog. Eventually I would stand next to him again, and Stu became our 11th housemate in Newport. He would always come up missing though. Pete didn't like that too much. He said Stu would disappear in college a lot too. I think Dan might have had something to do with that.

 

I have never met a kinder, more endearing, gentleperson in my life. All the years that I have known Pete, I have never heard him raise his voice once. He was also extremely intelligent. He had a brilliant mind. He also had a tremendous sense of humor. He could always make everyone laugh, that is if you understood what he was saying. I had to pull my car over a couple of times listening to his 10 minute voicemails that he used to leave.

 

I am deeply saddened by this untimely tragedy. I can stand up here and say that it isn't fair, but I think everyone already knows that. I am also very happy, grateful, and extremely lucky to have known Pete and to have him as a part of my (our) lives. He made us all better individuals just being around him. We will all miss him very much and cherish the time we got to spend with him.

 

Rob Sprague sent me a comment that I would like to share: "They say it takes a minute to find a special person, an hour to appreciate them, a day to love them, but an entire lifetime to forget them." I don't believe that anyone will ever forget Pete. I know we won't.

 

Last night I was looking through one of Pete's High School scrap books, and there was a quote that I found very ironic, but very fitting - "Everyone dies but not everyone lives". I think we can all agree that Pete definitely lived, and he lived well.

 

Mr. French, the other night you looked at us and said that Pete was a great son and you hoped that he was a good friend. He wasn't a good friend. HE WAS THE BEST FRIEND anyone could have. We will miss him dearly.

 

We love you Pete!

3hearts.jpg

Words of Reflection
by The Rev. Dr. George Waterbury, Pastor of First Congregational Church of Winchester
 
What then shall we say to this? If God is for us, who is against us?
 
I don't know about you, but I find there are times when I can say words of faith easier than I can believe them. There are times when it's hard to affirm that - God is for us so who is against us - when it's easier to believe in the permanence of despair than the presence of hope. Today may, for many of us, be one of those times.
 
Peter French was 27 years old! Born December 26, 1974....died April 29, 2002 - the words stick in my mouth. If time ever has felt "out of joint", it does so today. Our children are supposed to grow old, not die young. They are supposed to follow, not precede us, to the grave.
 
We all ask the question "Why?" How can we help it? Why one so young? Why one with so much to offer and to live for? Why one who was so loved and loving? The question "Why?" is essentially rhetorical, not substantial. My words today do not pretend to offer an answer, for the answers are beyond our knowing.
 
But it is an important question to ask. For at the very heart of what we are called upon to proclaim here today is a truth found more in our questions than in our certainties - a truth about the meaning we are invited to discover in the midst of incomprehensible. It is the truth to which Paul alludes in Romans: God is for us! God meets us in the pain and loss. God cries with us the tears. God embraces us when we rage. God is there for us in our certainty and when we are certain of nothing.
 
There is nothing we feel that God will not feel with us. There is no pain or rage or anger or hurt that is too distant or caustic or raw for God to embrace. God is for us, who is against us. The God we worship knows better than anyone else what it is like to lose a son - He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? Nothing, not even our inability to feel God's presence, can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord.
 
Rabbi Harold Kushner, whose son Aaron died as a teenager, says it well when he writes, "Let me suggest that the bad things that happen to us in our lives do not have meaning when they happen. They do not happen for any good reason which would cause us to accept them willingly. But we can give them meaning. The question is not "Why did this happen?" A better question would be "Now that this has happened, what am I going to do about it?""
 
Peter's death may always feel like overwhelming tragedy. But perhaps we can redeem its tragedy by filling it with the life he so loved and lived with such gusto. Perhaps in remembering his love of competition, we may renew our resolve to demand the best of ourselves. Perhaps in his love of music, we may hear again refrains of the song of life in which his tune and ours blended. Perhaps in his devotion to friends and family, we may be continually reminded never to take loved ones for granted and to celebrate each day as the true gift it is. Doing this may not take away any of the brokenness we now know. But it may help mitigate the pain and sanctify our grief.
 
Peter's life, while way too short, was also full and rich. It was filled with people and activity and love and fun and thoughtfulness and energy - the list could go on and on. My prayer for you is that these memories which may well bring tears to your eyes and leave you devoid of hope today, will in time become precious moments of love that you will treasure in your heart always.
 
Amen