Our Founders


David Edwin French 1871 - 1936 

Source: Obituary in Bluefield Daily Telegraph, run Feb 1, 1936



David Edwin French, prominent Mercer county attorney, businessman and long one of the recognized leaders of the Democratic Party in West Virginia, died at 8 o'clock last night [January 31, 1936] at his home on Reid Avenue.


Although in declining health for some time, Mr. French passed away suddenly. He was at his office Thursday morning and went to his home that evening. Thursday night he suffered a serious heart attack from which he never recovered.


Dr. J. W. Preston, of Roanoke, a life long friend, came to Bluefield yesterday afternoon for a consultation with Mr. French's personal physician, Dr. Albert H. Hoge. Children were summoned home after the physicians had definitely concluded that the end was rapidly approaching.  He was 64 years old.


A Lawyer, Banker, Businessman and political leader, Mr. French had served his home community and state with equal fidel­ity and competence.


Born in Giles County, Virginia, July 26, 1871, he was the son of Hanley C. and Harriett Thomas Easley French, and was a descendant of a long line of Colonial ancestors, a number of whom served in the American Revolution.


He received his early education in the grade and high school at Pearisburg, Va., studied law with his brother W. W. French at Pocahontas, Va., and was admitted to the Virginia bar in 1895. He then located at Keystone, McDowell County, and remained there until 1905 when he moved to Bluefield.


Mr. French organized the Bank of Keystone in 1905 and was its president until 1923. In that year he was elected president, of the Bluefield National Bank of Bluefield and retained that office until the merger of the bank with the Flat Top National Bank of Bluefield a few years ago.


In 1910 Mr. French was elected to the state senate and his record for constructive legislation in that body was such that he was repeatedly urged to seek higher offices. He conceded to the wishes of his friends and in 1916 aspired for the Democratic nomination for governor.   He was a delegate to the Democratic national convention in 1924, being chairman of the West Virginia delegation.   He served as city attorney for Bluefield from 1908 to 1915 and as special assistant to the attorney general of the United States the following year.


A Democrat of the old school, who treasured the finest tradition of the party of Jefferson, Senator French is generally credited with laying the foundation for the commanding position his party enjoys in Mercer County. As chairman of the county organization he led the Democrats to victory in several bitterly contested campaigns.


During the World war he was chairman of the Four-Minute Men of Mercer county, local chairman of military training camps association, and a member of the Mercer county legal advisory board.


He was a former president of the West Virginia Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and vice president of the national society. At the time of his death he was nat­ional adviser of the Huguenot So­ciety, Founders of Manakin of the Colony of Virginia. Other fraternal connections included membership in Masonic, Shrine, Elks and Knights Templar orders. He was a member of the First Baptist Church, past president of the Bluefield Rotary club, member of the Bluefield Country club, and a member of the Bar Associations of Mercer County, Virginia, West Virginia, and the American Bar association.


 Senator French was active in the business and civic life of Bluefield, He was president of the Bluefield Office Building company, and president of the American Finance company, and was financially interested in a number of other business enterprises of the community.


On November 15, 1899 Mr. French married Miss Minnie Reid, of Athens. His wife and the following children survive; D. E. French, Jr., John R. French, Miss Harriet French and, Miss Elizabeth French, all of Bluefield, and [? Nephew ] Paul Clark, Jr., of Fort Sill, Okla. He also leaves two sisters, Mrs. Mary Clarke Snidow, of Jarratt, Va., and Mrs. Bernice F. Holland, of Richmond.


Senator French was a first cousin of Guy, Charles and George French, W. C. Easley, D. M. Easley and Frank S. Easley, all well-known citizens of Bluefield. Funeral services will be announced today.


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