G. Ross French, a decorated World War II veteran who was a sales executive for a wire products company, died of heart failure Oct. 7 at Gilchrist Hospice Care in Towson. The former Lutherville resident was 99.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Canterbury Road, he was the son of H. Findlay French, director of the old Baltimore Industrial Bureau and his wife, Helen Clark. He was a 1939 Gilman School graduate and played varsity football and baseball.
He earned a degree at the University of Pennsylvania and joined the Army during World War II. He was sent to Officer Candidate School and was assigned to Europe. He landed at Omaha Beach in Normandy several weeks after the initial Allied Invasion. He later participated in the liberation of Paris and slept in what had been a royal garden with other members of his unit.
Mr. French wrote to his parents, “There was no wine, women and song for us.”
He later moved on to fight in southern German. He was wounded by a German sniper Sept. 19, 1944 and treated.
“The bullet went through his left leg into his right leg,” said his son, George R. “Geordie” French Jr. “He was sent back to hospital in England, where his right leg had to be amputated."
Mr. French was awarded the Purple Heart.
“At first his parents got a telegram that their son had been wounded. It took a while before they knew anything," his son said. “But my father wrote them not to be upset. ‘I’ll be dancing soon,’ he wrote. And as time went on my father did receive compliments for his dancing.
"He never let his amputation become a limitation. After I was born he played catch most summer evenings after he returned from work. He would also play singles tennis in 95-degree heat and humidity.”
Mr. French subsequently was sent to Atlantic City, New Jersey for six months of rehabilitation.
“We met when I was at the Philadelphia Navy Yard,” said Dr. William F. Fritz, a Riderwood resident. “Ross had suffered a leg injury and some years later, when I came to the Johns Hopkins Medical School, we renewed our friendship. Through the years Ross was patriotic, authentic and a loyal friend.”
After leaving the military and returning to Baltimore, Mr. French worked for Westinghouse and Black & Decker.
“He also tried selling insurance and hated it,” his son said. “He would drive to Baltimore County near Middle River and watch the ships to make the time pass.”
He later joined National Wire Products and retired as its senior vice president in charge of sales in 1985.
He met his future wife, Katharine “Kitsy” Iglehart through a mutual friend. She was the daughter of an early owner of the Orioles, Joseph Iglehart.
They lived in Lutherville for many years and had a winter home in Delray Beach, Florida. He and his wife frequently played tennis and were enthusiastic golfers.
He was a donor to the Fund for American Studies in Washington, D.C.
In addition to his son, survivors include eight grandchildren and six great grandchildren; and two special friends, Peggy Thorne and Dr. Elhadji Ndiaye. His wife of 54 years died in 2004. His daughter, Margaret “Meg” Iglehart French Sicher died in 2008.
Funeral services are private.