University mourns the loss of alumnus, coach, friend Dan French


The standout three-sport athlete, longtime men's basketball coach and athletic director passed away on Nov. 14.


Pacific University Athletic Hall of Fame member Dan French '56, MS '64, a standout three-sport athlete in the 1950s and a longtime Pacific men's basketball coach and athletic director, died Nov. 14 at his home in Indian Wells, Calif. He was 78. 

At his request, no services were held. His life and contributions to the university will be recognized in the Stoller Center gymnasium at 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 23.

The ceremony is open to the public and will include remembrances from family, former students and colleagues and friends. A reception with light food and beverages will take place following the service in the Boxer Learning Center, which is also located in the Stoller Center.

For details on the reception, please contact Edna K. Gehring at 503-352-2107. 

Mr. French was born on May 12, 1934, in Eldorado Springs, Mo., but was raised in Hillsboro. He graduated from Hillsboro High School and earned his bachelor's degree from Pacific in 1956, then his master's in physical education in 1964. 

A standout three-sport athlete, Mr. French was a four-year letter winner in football, basketball and track and field. It was on the hardwood, though, where he shined the most.  

A two-time All-Northwest Conference selection, he held the Pacific career record for rebounds (688) until broken by Ross Bartlett in 2010 and ranks fifth on Pacific's all-time scoring list with 1,279 points.  

Mr. 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, Mr. French served two years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps before beginning his teaching and coaching career at Hillsboro High School.

He became Pacific's head men's basketball coach in 1960 and served in that role for 12 seasons. 

He led the Badgers to a second-place finish in the NWC in 1962-63. His 117 were the most in school history until surpassed by Ken Schumann in 2001-02.  

Mr. French came back to serve as an interim coach for 14 games during the 1982-83 season for Gary Meggelin. 

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

Upon retirement, Mr. French worked for a land development company and purchased a Century 21 franchise in Hillsboro.  

He and his wife, Varina, relocated to Borrego Springs, Calif., in the late 1980s. While there, Mr. French spent time as interim head football coach and head of security at Ram's Hill High School. 

Mr. French is survived by his wife of 58 years, Varina Heinrich French, who also 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. 


Posted by Joe Lang (jlang@pacificu.edu) on Nov 27, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Edited by Rachael Burbank (rburbank@pacificu.edu) on Feb 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM

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