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Raymond Emil FrenchAugust 4, 1921 ~ May 4, 2017 (age 95)
Raymond Emil French, 95, passed peacefully from this life to return home on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at the Meadowbrook of Granby Nursing Facility in Granby, CT.
Mr. French was born in Torrington on August 4, 1921, son of the late Raymond Charles French and Alice (Toussaint) French. He was predeceased by his wife, Adelaide “Nini” (Bardelli) French, who left his side in 1985.
Mr. French was employed for 32 years at the Torrington Company Standard Plant as a machinist. A true master at his craft, when someone needed a job to be done right, they went to Ray. He was a lifelong musician and as quoted in his High School Yearbook in 1940, “We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.” Ray sure could make his sax talk, even though he himself had little to say. His extraordinary love of music started at the age of 15 with his first “c” melody horn. From then on, he played the tenor sax. He was an active member of the American Federation of Musicians, Torrington Musicians Association, and the Torrington Jazz ensemble 514. He played with the Paul Driscoll Tempo Kings, Joe Pelinaro’s High Hatters, Blue Knights Band, Nonnie James Band, Ralph Capuano-Ray Gordon Band, Frankie Iacino Band, and the Benny Antonelli’s Big Band. He played for the area benefit ball for the Fire Depts. At the State Armory, and for many years participated in the Regional #7 Winsted, Lewis Mills, and Torrington High School Music Department Bands, playing right alongside the High School music students. A talented member of the Leo Middle Band, he was called “Mr. Experience”, the Big Band authority on swing music. He played for many years at Coe Park concerts and Fuessenich Park 4th of July celebrations, wowing the crowds with his beautiful solos. His favorite pastime was playing with his grandchildren for hours on end, tinkering with his millions of projects in his basement, and writing music. His idol and favorite Jazz Musicians were Stan Kenton and Duke Ellington, and had the opportunity to meet his son, Mercer Ellington, at a concert in Norfolk in 1993.
Mr. French was an WWII U.S. Army Veteran, one of the last living members of the Greatest Generation. He was called to duty in October 1942, and was a dedicated mechanic in the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Division of the Army. He traveled to North Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, Italy, France, and Germany.
He will be graciously remembered by all who knew and loved him. A man of few words, he was a wonderful, loving man with a soul of pure kindness, and he would help anyone who needed anything, any time.
Survivors include his loving daughter and lifelong best friend, Judy Dimaio and her husband Nick of Windsor; and the two great loves of his life, his grandchildren Trevor Gaudette of Unionville and Rachel Gaudette and her fiancé Patrick Scully of Wethersfield; his son, Raymond C. French of Torrington; his step-daughter, Joyce Nejaime and her husband Tony of Arizona; and grandchildren, Todd Nejaime and his wife Andrea of Florida and Lisa Eckman and her husband David of Arizona; and two great-grandchildren. Mr. French deeply loved his two sons-in-laws Nick Dimaio and Rick Gaudette, sharing wonderful moments with both of them over the last 42 years. His family came first above all else.
Funeral services will be held Monday, May 8, 2017 at 10:00a.m. at Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home, 258 Prospect St., Torrington. Burial will follow in Hillside Cemetery, Torrington. Friends may call Sunday, May 7, 2017 from 4:00p.m. to 6:00p.m. at Gleeson-Ryan Funeral Home.
At the request of the family, in lieu of flowers, please make donations in memory of Raymond E. French to the Southwest School Music Department, Attention: Judy Theeb, Principal, 340 Litchfield St., Torrington, CT 06790.
Southwest School Music Department
Attention: Judy Theeb, Principal, 340 Litchfield Street, Torrington CT 06790