Dan French

Posted December 6, 2012 at 10:50 am



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Pacific University Athletic Hall of Fame member Dan French, 78, a standout three-sport athlete in the 1950’s and a longtime Pacific men’s basketball coach and athletic director, died Oct. 14, at his home in Indian Wells, CA.

At his request, no services were held. His life and contributions to the university will be recognized with a halftime ceremony at the Pacific mens basketball game on Feb. 23 against Willamette. A reception will be held before the game at 7 p.m.

French was born on May 12, 1934, in El Dorado Springs but was raised in Hillsboro. He graduated from Hillsboro High School and earned his bachelor’s degree from Pacific in 1956 and earned his master’s in physical education in 1964.

A three-sport athlete, French was a four-year letter winner in football, basketball and track and field at Pacific.

It was on the basketball court, though, where he shined the most. A two-time all-Northwest Conference selection, he held the Pacific career record for rebounds (688) until it was broken by Ross Bartlett in 2010. He ranks fifth on Pacific’s all-time scoring list with 1,279 points. French was inducted into the NAIA District II Hall of Fame in 1968 and the Pacific University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.

Following graduation French served two years as an officer in the Marine Corps before beginning his teaching and coaching career at Hillsboro High School. He became Pacific’s head mens basketball coach in 1960 and served in that role for 12 seasons.

He led the Badgers, formerly Pacific’s mascot until 1968, to a second-place finish in the NWC in 1962-63. His 117 wins were the most in school history until surpassed by Ken Schumann in 2001-02. French came back to serve as an interim coach for 14 games during the 1983-83 season for Gary Meggelin.

In addition to coaching, French served as Pacific’s director of athletics and chairman of the physical education department from 1965 to 1972.

Upon retirement, he worked for a land development company and purchased a Century 21 franchise in Hillsboro. He and his wife, Varina, relocated to Borrego Springs, CA, in the late 1980’s. While there, French spent time as interim head football coach and head of security at Ram’s Hill High School.

French is survived by his wife of 58 years, Varina Heinrich French, who served as a Pacific coach and physical education faculty member, and was inducted into the Pacific University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.

He is also survived by a son, Daniel V. French, and his wife, Hayley; daughter, Laurie Lund, and her husband, Kurt; six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

For details on the reception before Pacific’s Feb. 23 men’s basketball game, please contact Edna K. Gehring at 503/352-2107 or gehringe@pacificu.edu.