Former Williamsport mayor dies

March 12, 2003|by TAMELA BAKER

Longtime residents here remembered former Mayor Glenwood "Jack" French Tuesday as a low-key leader who loved Williamsport and had the best interests of the community at heart.

French died at his Williamsport home Monday. He was 70.

"He was a pretty staunch Democrat," town historian Morris Snyder said. "He was a personable guy. He did an awful lot" for Williamsport.

French served as mayor of Williamsport from 1981 to 1985. He also served three terms on the Town Council before becoming mayor.


"He had the community all the time in focus," Snyder said. So much so that he negotiated with Potomac Edison to reroute its coal trucks to bypass Williamsport's main streets to keep the coal dust out, Snyder added.

That attention to detail stands out in Councilman-elect Monty Jones' memory. "He had a way of taking control of a situation," Jones said. "He definitely kept his thumb on the pulse of the town."

Mayor John Slayman, who succeeded French in 1985, credited French with the development of Billy Doub Field, among other things. Slayman was elected to the Williamsport Council when French became mayor.

"Jack was a pretty good mayor," Slayman said. "We had disagreements sometimes, but we learned to live with that and move on. That happens on all councils."

"Jack was a low-key person," Slayman said.

Low-key, but effective, according to Nelson Deal, a member of the Conococheague Little League Board of Directors and owner of N&W Train Shop in Williamsport.

"He made the Billy Doub Field a reality," Deal said. "We had some government money, and he came to me and asked me about (a baseball field). And he made it happen." Later, Deal said, he asked French to help him get a parking lot at the field, and French made that happen, too.

When league officials discovered someone had been stealing items from the field - particularly the concession stand - French took control of that situation, too.

"He said 'we're either going to scare the daylights out of him or we're gonna get him,'" Deal said, and he and French staked out the field waiting for the culprit to show.

Deal heard a commotion, and found French with another person. "He had him pinned up against the backstop," Deal said.

"Take it from me and all the children in the Conococheague Little League - we have eternal thanks to Jack French."

French also was a mentor, Jones said. "I remember Jack French as a man who was a leader at home as well as a servant in the community," Jones said. "He had a firm hand and a big heart."

Jones, who knew French for about 10 years, said the former mayor had encouraged him to serve his community - and that even after his term as mayor ended, he "stayed involved as a lay member of the community. Jack was a good man."

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