PILOT MOUNTAIN — Former Pilot Mountain Commissioner Andrew Joseph French III, age 51, of Pilot Mountain, died Wednesday at Rowan Regional Hospital.
According to Pilot Mountain Town Manager Homer Dearmin, French was a public servant whose passion for service to his town existed before serving for three years as a commissioner and continued after his tenure.
“He was on the board when I was hired as town manager in August of 2011 and served until the 2012 elections,” said Dearmin. “He was always one of our more actively involved downtown merchants who owned several properties and helped us a lot on zoning concerns. He was just super to work with,” said Dearmin. “He will be greatly missed. Certainly by me and most certainly by the town of Pilot Mountain.”
Dearmin said French had continued to work on a pro bono basis with sewer rate structure projects for the town after serving for three years as a commissioner. Shortly before his death, he was serving as a consultant for analyzing the water rates for the town.
“Even after his tenure, he remained a proven friend of the town and always offered wise counsel to me,” Dearmin said. “He had a brilliant mathematical mind and really helped us on coming up with solutions.” Dearmin credited French with being a primary architect of getting the town back on firmer financial ground, taking the lead on the project and helping draft the first strategies sent in as official notification to the state financial issues were being addressed.
Pilot Mountain Mayor Dr. Earl Sheppard said he remembers French’s exuberance and energy for life as well as community.
“I am just devastated. I’ve known Andrew since a little league game where I met him and Janice when they first moved here in 1997,” said Sheppard. “He was a great man and served our community in a variety of ways. Everybody liked him. He was just the nicest guy. He was absolutely brilliant and so dedicated to his family. He owned three buildings downtown and was so excited to be a part of Pilot.”
Sheppard said French had many talents such as the ability to “sit down and re-write a computer program” if the software was not working to suit him.
“He was a wonderful commissioner to work with. He was practical and was willing to give and take when it came to issues. He was very easy to negotiate with. He was a great advocate. He will be missed. You just don’t replace people like Andrew French.”
French was born Aug. 11, 1962. in Rockville Center, N.Y. He graduated from Vanderbilt University and worked as a pension actuary. French is survived by his wife, Janice Jacoby French. The couple’s children are Alexandra Janice French and Zachary Andrew French.
In lieu of flowers the family has asked memorials may be made to East Surry Little League, P.O. Box 1515, Pilot Mountain, NC 27041. Online condolences may be made at www.howellfuneralservices.com.
David Broyles may be reached at 336- 719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.