Longtime Covite, former Copperas Cove mayor laid to rest
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Forrest “Jim” French was remembered yesterday during a funeral Mass at Holy Family Catholic Church, with a burial at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen.
French’s years of military service were noted, and along with that, his service to the city he called home for more than 45 years. French had been a member of the Holy Family Catholic Church since 1972, where he was a lector and a reader. In 1976, he continued to serve his church by joining the Knights of Columbus and was also a member of the Exchange Club of Copperas Cove.
The Knights of Columbus stood by during a visitation on Wednesday evening, then served as pallbearers on Thursday morning.
During the Mass, Al Castillo, one of the Knights, read the West Point Cadet prayer, which says, “Encourage us in our endeavor to live above the common level of life. Make us to choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong, and never to be content with a half-truth when the whole can be won. Endow us with courage that is born of loyalty to all that is noble and worthy, that scorns to compromise with vice and injustice and knows no fear when truth and right are in jeopardy.”
He ended the reading with a word for his fellow Knight.
“If you’ve read this prayer, you’ll see that Jim lived it,” Castillo said.
French served as mayor of Copperas Cove from 1985-1990, and was a councilman from 1977-1985. He was director of the Copperas Cove chamber of commerce from 1990-1992 and CEO of the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation from 1992-1994.
Prior to his retirement in 1976 as a lieutenant colonel after 20 years of military service, French, a West Point alum and former mathematics instructor at the United States Military Academy, also served his country in Germany, Korea, and Vietnam.
He was awarded the Purple Heart, Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation with Valor device and Combat Infantryman Badge.
Along with his multiple civic duties, he was part of the Coryell County Appraisal District, Military Affairs Committee, and the West Point Association of Graduates. He was awarded Veteran of the Year in 2019 by Star Group - Veterans Helping Veterans.
Additionally, both French and his wife, Janie, were named “Friends of the Chamber” at the chamber’s annual member banquet in January 2018 because of their longtime support of the business organization.
Current chamber of commerce president, Alicia Menard, spoke about the impact that French had not only on the chamber, but beyond Copperas Cove.
“Mr. French served as the Executive Director/CEO/President of the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce for several years and played an instrumental role in developing the mission and purpose of the Copperas Cove Chamber, creating a vibrant business climate and promoting economic growth on all levels for the community of Copperas Cove. His passion for the Chamber was irrefutable and indescribable and his accomplishments are unprecedented,” Menard said.