In Memory of Hal French

Hal French, a dear friend of NAIN and longtime interfaith activist, passed away July 10, 2014, in Columbia, SC.

He is survived by his wife, Rannie French, and three children, Steve (in Colorado), Mark (in S.C.), and Rebecca (in Kansas.)  Obituary

We will miss his sweet smile, gentle manner, passion for interfaith, and very considerable scholarship.

Hal’s career included ministry, chaplaincy, authoring and editing, and over 40 years of university teaching.  Although he retired as Chair of the Religious Studies Department at the University of South Carolina in 1995, he [like many of us] “failed retirement” and continued teaching part-time.

Kay Lindahl first reported the news to me and said that it was a shock, as she had been in recent email correspondence with him. Several NAIN regulars have responded to the news with affectionate memories.

“I will miss Hal. I looked forward to seeing and talking with him at each connect we were at . His humour, insightfulness, joy of life and understanding made these times together memorable and fun to be with .
Let’s honour him in Detroit “
–Earl Smith

“Hal French and I first became acquainted through our involvement in the American Academy of Religion.  We were among the few academicians active in NAIN when I first got involved in NAIN, both of us professors in the academic study of religion.  He was a leader in expanding the curriculum of religious studies to include interfaith studies in his institution.  A gentle but vigorous proponent.  His voice and presence will be missed.”
–Jim Wiggins

“Dear Hal French was a passionate interfaith pioneer and one of the dearest human beings I’ve ever met.”
–Paul Chaffee [Paul includes a memorial in the July 15, The Interfaith Observer.]

“The news of Hal French’s passing brought back many wonderful memories for me.  He had a great impact on NAIN over the years, and his wise comments kept us going forward many times.  The 1997 NAINConnect in Columbia, South Carolina was my second and his leadership was important to us all. He seemed to know everybody in the interfaith movement and kept us in contact with several interfaith groups that I knew nothing about.  I don’t know how many books he wrote but his book on Zen was one I referred to several times.  Of course, we had a special  bond because he had studied in Canada for a year or two.”
— DonMayne

“So sorry to hear.  Hal was truly one of our NAIN leaders and a wonderful and insightful man.  Plus just a darn good friend!”
–Bettina Gray

We will certainly be remembering and missing Hal at NAINConnect in Detroit this August.

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