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Community leader best remembered for his hands-on involvement, love for children and grandchildren

PMG FILE PHOTO - Kirk French, right, was never afraid to get his hands dirty when it came to helping his community. He planted the cherry trees blooming in Main City Park.Former Gresham City Councilor and longtime community volunteer Kirk French died Friday, April 9, after a serious illness in a local hospital.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Kirk FrenchFrench grew up in Northeast Portland and graduated from Lincoln High School. He went to work for Burns Brothers Inc. Truck Stops in East Multnomah County, where he rose through the ranks and eventually served as the district manager of Travel Centers of America before his retirement. 

He moved to Gresham in 2007 and was first elected to City Council in 2014, after previously filling a vacancy. As a councilor, French was known for his hands-on approach to leadership and presence at community events. By some counts, he attended more than 800 public events after he was sworn into his first full term on council in January 2015. He was elected council president and served the city in that capacity until losing the position to Eddie Morales in a close election in 2018.

During his final year on council, French oversaw the launching of Gresham's Neighbors Helping Neighbors, a program aimed at dealing with low-level code violations. In the first gathering, which had volunteers help at a home in the North Central Neighborhood, Council President French was there doing his part. He cut back out-of-control foliage, removed trash and leaves, and cleared the sidewalks for the resident who was unable to deal with the issues on their own.  

For French, it was the right thing to do. 

"This is all about helping people in our community," French told The Outlook. "We can make a difference." 


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