Dr. Robert E. French, a prominent Orange County orthodontist, passed away peacefully On Saturday, Oct. 12, with family members at his bedside. The cause of death was related to complications from a degenerative lung condition.
Bob was born an only child to Ursula and Schuyler French on May 7, 1930, in St. Louis, Mo. In 1938, the family relocated to California and settled in Laguna Beach, where Bob continued his education and spent several years as a city lifeguard.
French began college in 1947 and received his bachelor of arts from Loyola University College of Science and Engineering in 1952, his doctorate in dentistry from Chicago’s Loyola University in 1954. He then honorably served as a captain in the U.S. Air Force dental corps before returning to Laguna Beach to establish a successful practice in family dentistry.
Being a perennial student, French successfully completed a two-year orthodontic residency program, receiving his certificate of specialty and degree from Loma Linda University in 1964. He returned to Laguna Beach once more to become the city’s most acclaimed orthodontist.
Eventually, Dr. French established a second practice in Newport Beach with his close friend and colleague, Dr. David Webster. During his many years in practice, Dr. French was a volunteer to his community, an exemplary leader in his profession, a meticulous researcher, a respected educator, a mentor to many and a dear friend to all.
Dr. French was a local Rotarian, a founding member of the Newport Harbor Academy of Dentistry, a founding member of the Bio-progressive Orthodontic Excellence, served as president of the Orange County Dental Society and eventually served as president of the California State Society of Orthodontists, now known as the California Association of Orthodontists. Dr. French was elected as a fellow of the American College of Dentistry, in recognition of his years of service and volunteer leadership, and his uncompromising ethics and integrity, a distinction that fewer than 4 percent of the nation’s dentists achieve. In 2001, the California Association of Orthodontists honored Dr. French with its prestigious Distinguished Service Award.
Not being one to rest on his laurels, in 2003 Dr. French became an associate professor in Loma Linda’s orthodontics department, continued to practice orthodontics on a part-time basis and remained very involved, until recently, in the activities of the Academy for Orthodontic Excellence study club.
French was preceded in death by his son, Timothy. He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Marcia; his sons Peter French and Jeff Spurlock and his daughters Paula Scotland, Judy Scholl and Dawn Spurlock; as well as 13 adored and adoring grandchildren.
For those of us that shared his life, it can be said with absolute certainty that Bob lived his life to the fullest and was so loving and generous to his family and friends. He will be so dearly remembered and so truly missed.
A memorial service to be held on Saturday, Oct. 26 at 11 a.m. at the Laguna Beach Presbyterian Church.
In lieu of flowers the family requests donations be made out to the Laguna Beach High School Scholarship Foundation, with Dr. Bob French’s name in the memo. Mail to PO Box 1569, Laguna Beach Ca., 92652-1569.