Joseph French

Obituary of Joseph L. French

Joe died peacefully at the Atrium at the Village at Penn State surrounded by members of his family. He was a loving husband and father, a loyal friend, and a respected educator. A nationally esteemed leader in the field of school psychology, he was known for his kindness, humor, and fairmindedness. Joe was as generous with his million-dollar smile as he was with organizations devoted to human and civil rights, environmental protection, and the arts. He truly was a scholar and a gentleman. Joe and Peg married June 11, 1950 and their adventure began. He loved to travel, taking his family on vacations throughout the country. In retirement Joe and Peg took several trips to Europe and many more travels in the U.S. They enjoyed many trips to New York to see Broadway shows and visit the family's friend, Christopher Kennedy. Canoeing, whether at Colyer Lake or floating downstream, was one of Joe's favorite activities. He continued to bowl and play softball in senior leagues until recent months, both lifelong interests. When he was 70 he got the ball rolling to create the senior softball league in this area. In his younger days, he coached a Little League team that included two of sons. An avid Penn State fan, Joe had season football tickets for 53 consecutive years. He cheered on Penn State teams in all seasons, especially men's and women's basketball, and women's volleyball. Joe enjoyed musical and theater productions indoors or outside in a variety of genres. He regularly attended Torch Club and Quarterback Club. Joe graduated from Bloomington (IL) High School in 1945 where he played basketball, softball, and was active in other clubs and activities. A Boy Scout, he attained the rank of Eagle Scout and later was a Scout leader when all three of his sons participated in scouting. Joe enrolled at the Illinois State University at Normal where he met the "Peg of his heart", Peggy Gallagher. They were married 66 years and remained devoted to one another throughout their marriage, including many years of caring for her as she battled Alzheimer's. After they married, Joe taught classes half-time at ISU and covered campus sports for the local paper. Joe served in the Illinois National Guard, 44th Division during college. When his unit was called to active service in 1951, he entered the Army and was promoted to lieutenant. His most interesting post was Mainz, Germany where Peg and their baby daughter, Jane, were able to join him. The family enjoyed seeing much of Europe that year. Following his discharge, they returned to ISU for several years, where their first son, Jeff, was born. Joe enrolled in the Doctoral program at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln in 1955 where he earned a EdD in Educational Psychology and Measurement. His Doctoral thesis was based on the IQ test he developed for special needs children. The Pictorial Test of Intelligence, revised, is still in use today. Joe taught for a year at Nebraska, birthplace of son John, before accepting an appointment at the University of Missouri in Columbia, where son Jim was born. He was recruited by Penn State in 1964 to develop and run an independent doctoral school psychology program where he remained in various roles until retiring as an emeritus professor of education in 1997. Shortly after moving to Penn State, Joe and Peg joined a newcomers' bridge group, forming lifelong friendships with the others. Some years later, the group decided they really weren't newcomers anymore so began referring to the bridge club as the Old Newcomers. Joe wrote more than 50 articles for professional journals, 24 pieces for encyclopedias, developed nine tests, wrote seven externally funded research reports, and edited two books of readings on educating gifted children. He served on the editorial board of numerous professional journals and belonged to many professional organizations. Joe worked tirelessly as a consultant for the Home of the Merciful Savior, a home for children with cerebral palsy. He received numerous professional accolades including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of School Psychologists of Pennsylvania, 1994, ISU Distinguished Alumnae 1998, the National Association of School Psychologists Legends of School Psychology Award, 1999, and was inducted into the ISU College of Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, 2006. While at Penn State, Joe served in the Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, College of Education Faculty Council, as well as many other committees. In retirement Joe did site reviews of school psychology doctoral programs (in parts of the country he wished to visit) and offered to give speeches to any group that offered lunch. He served on the Pennsylvania Psychology Board 1974-2016, including one year as its president. He was active in the Democratic Party, serving as precinct captain for several years. Joe delivered meals for Meals on Wheels through December 2017. He was a member of the Resident Council at the Village, serving as president in 2017. He became an active member of the University Baptist and Brethren Church when the family moved to State College. Joe was predeceased by his wife, Peg French; parents, Irene and Raymond French; sister, Susan Toman; brothers-in- law Mike Gallagher and Jim Gallagher; and son, Jeff French. Surviving are brother-in-laws, Jim Toman and John Gallagher; sister-in-law Pat Gallagher; daughter Jane (and Gary) Brubaker of State College, son John (and Guenet) French of Orlando, FL, Jim (and Lynne) French of State College; grandchildren John (and Laura) Brubaker, Catherine Brubaker, Jessica Chaffin, Sarah (and Jason) Conrad, Joseph M. French, Benjamin French, eight great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. A celebration of Joe's life will be held March 10, 2018 at the University Baptist and Brethren Church in State College beginning at 1:00. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial gifts be made to the Centre County Children and Youth Services, the University Baptist and Brethren Church, or the Alzheimer's Association. Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences and signing of the guest book may be entered at
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Memorial Service

1:00 pm
Saturday, March 10, 2018
University Baptist and Brethren Church
411 S. Burrowes St
State College, Pennsylvania, United States
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