Larry French, 69, of Madison, SD, passed away at his home under hospice care on Friday, June 26, 2020, surrounded by his loving family.
A private family memorial service will be held at 7 pm on Friday, July 31 at Kinzley Funeral Home in Madison. The service will be livestreamed and a link will be posted on Larry's obit at www.kinzleyfh.com.
Larry French was born December 15, 1950, to Lawton and Josephine (Harrison) French in Mitchell, SD. Larry attended elementary schools in Sioux Falls, Plano, Alexandria, and Mitchell, SD. After the death of his father, he, his mother, and his sister, Jodi, lived in Mitchell while his mother attended Dakota Wesleyan University to obtain a degree in education. After her graduation, they moved to Worthington, MN. In 1965, his mother married Wally Van De Wetering, and the family moved to a farm near Roswell, SD. Larry graduated from Howard High School in 1969. He earned an elementary teaching degree from Dakota State College and a Master's Degree in School Administration from South Dakota State University.
On May 20, 1972, he married Ila Pearson at the Ramsey Baptist Church near Montrose, SD. They were blessed with two daughters, Courtney and Chelsea. They eventually settled in Madison, South Dakota, and together ran and owned a laundromat for 40 years. Larry wore many "hats" in his lifetime: teacher, school administrator, salesman, business owner, truck driver, and special education school bus driver. He especially loved driving the special education bus and spending time with "his bus kids."
Larry was intensely proud of his daughters and grandchildren. He loved attending their musical and sporting events, and often spoke of their accomplishments with pride. He also loved animals, and rescued several dogs and cats who came to make their home on the family acreage outside of Madison, alongside a few retired pet horses.
Larry did not want flowers at his memorial service, but instead requested that memorial gifts be divided among some of his favorite animal rescue organizations including Little Hooves Miniature Horse and Pony Rescue in White, SD, and Gemini Rottweiler and Pitbull Rescue in Madison, MN.
Larry is survived by: his wife of 48 years, Ila of Madison; daughters, Courtney (Justin) Moose of Brandon, SD, and Chelsea French (Russell Schaade) of Valparaiso, IN; grandchildren, Natalie and Daniel Moose, and Russell Schaade; his mother, Josephine Van De Wetering of Howard; a sister, Christy Van De Wetering (Steve Seitz) of Madison; a brother-in-law, Brad Bilka (Jayne) of Rapid City; an aunt, Shirley Adams of Mitchell, South Dakota; and several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
He was preceded in death by his father; a sister, Jodi Bilka; his stepfather; and several beloved aunts and uncles.