James George French was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on the evening of June 9, 2013, to Kris and Lindsey French. James was a very happy baby and a joy to his family, especially to his big sister, Klaire, who loved and cared for him as only a sister can. At age 3, James became a big brother to Frank.
James began to exhibit developmental delays in infancy and, at 18 months, was found to have a rare condition called lissencephaly. While this condition may be very debilitating, James surprised us all with his growth and abilities. Surrounded by the love, diligence and support of his family, friends and a community of therapists, James thrived. Simply stated, James exceeded everyone’s predictions and expectations.
James endeared himself to everyone he met with his big blue eyes and gentle way. He loved other kids and made fast friends. James was a boy’s boy and a man’s man. He loved cars, trucks, tractors and trains — toys and the real thing. When we had picnics or barbecues, James parked himself by his dad, or by someone’s dad, to play trucks. He was always ready to give one of his “head hugs” and hold a hand.
James attended Good Shepherd Preschool, and then kindergarten at Billings Christian School, where he made best friends and had wonderful teachers. James’s success in school was due in large part to the support and therapy he received at The Pediatric Therapy Clinic of Billings.
James’s great joy in life was playing with big sister, Klaire, and little brother, Frank. Klaire, ever the big sister, could get James to play house, do projects, build cities, play match and even do schoolwork together. Frankie and James brought out one another’s silly, rough-and-tumble sides. Their boyish laughter could be heard throughout the house and yard. Klaire, James and Frank ended most days running, jumping and wrestling in the basement while we chased them around trying to put on their pajamas.
On the morning of April 25, 2020, James passed from this life to the next due to unexpected complications of lissencephaly. While we are all deeply saddened by James’s passing, we are confident that he is with His loving Father in heaven. We look forward to the day we will meet him there.
James is survived by parents, Kris and Lindsey French; sister Klaire (8) and brother Frank (3); grandparents Frank and Kordelia French of Plentywood; grandmother Judy Smith, of Billings; uncle and aunt Nathan and Angie French, and their children, Ryan (16), Laura (14), Megan (11) and Abby (11), St. Cloud, Minnesota; and uncle Brian Smith of Billings. James was preceded in death by his grandfather, Bob Smith. James will also be remembered and cherished by numerous extended family members, friends of the French family, Pediatric Therapy Clinic, Billings Christian School and Faith Chapel.
Services for James will be held at Faith Chapel in the large worship center at 11 a.m. on Friday, May 8. Accommodations for social distancing will be in place. The family respects your personal choice to attend, or not to attend, in light of current events.
In lieu of flowers, we ask that gifts are made to the James G. French Memorial Fund.
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James G. French Memorial
Billings Christian School Education Foundation
3031 Grand Ave., Suite 100-106
Billings, MT 59102.