In Memoriam: 1940s
Warren Ballinger French Jr. (Engr ’47 CM) of Edinburg, Virginia, died Nov. 4, 2021. When World War II was declared, Mr. French received a Navy commission as an ensign and left college to join the war effort, where he was assigned to the Pacific theater and participated in the Philippines campaign. After returning to UVA and graduating with a B.S. in electrical engineering, Mr. French joined AT&T Long Lines. In 1954, he left AT&T to become the general manager of the Farmers Mutual Telephone System of Shenandoah County, where he subsequently held several administrative positions, both at Farmers Mutual and its successor organizations, Shenandoah Telephone Company and Shenandoah Telecommunications Company. Mr. French was also active in state and national industry associations and organizations representing the interests of small independent telephone companies, and he was appointed by President Reagan as a member of the President’s National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee. In recognition of his career of service to the independent telephone industry, he was awarded the President’s Award by the Organization for the Protection and Advancement of Small Telephone Companies, as well as the United States Independent Telephone Association’s Distinguished Service Medallion. He was inducted into the Independent Telecommunications Pioneer Association’s Telephone Hall of Fame in 1993. Mr. French served as a director of the UVA Engineering Foundation and was appointed to serve as a member of the UVA Board of Visitors from 1972 to 1980. Mr. French was also an active supporter of his community, holding administrative positions at several local organizations, including Shenandoah Memorial Hospital and the Shenandoah County Library Foundation. He also conceived of and founded the Shenandoah Community Foundation. Mr. French was predeceased by his wife, Patricia, and their son, Warren B. French III. Survivors include three children, including Cynthia French Mullen (Com ’76 CM) and Christopher Edward French (Engr ’80, Darden ’84 CM); nine grandchildren, including Warren B. French II (Engr ’11); and eight great-grandchildren.
Palmer Douglas Wexler (Engr ’49 CM) of Sandy Springs, Georgia, died Aug. 23, 2021. The son of Russian immigrants, he grew up in Carteret, New Jersey, and served in the U.S. Army’s 303rd Signal Operations Battalion during World War II in France, Belgium and Germany. He was on a ship bound for Okinawa, Japan, when the war ended and enrolled at UVA 10 days after his discharge in 1945. After graduation, he worked for General Electric for 16 years and later for several other companies in a variety of manufacturing, general management and international positions that took him across six continents. Bored after a short retirement, he returned to work in 1989 with Amrep Inc. as sales representative for Asia, and he made his last overseas business trip at age 87. Happiest when busy building or repairing something, drawing, dancing, or traveling, he was climbing ladders, doing yardwork and playing on the floor with his great-grandchildren well into his 90s. He was a lifelong baseball fan, golfer and stamp collector and served his community as a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels and as an aerobics instructor at his senior living community. He was predeceased by his wife, Delores. Survivors include his partner, Jane Greenberger; three children; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.