Willis French
Willis French
Willis French
Willis French
Willis French
Willis French

Obituary of Willis (Wiggs) French

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Willis “Wiggs” French



It is with broken hearts that we announce the peaceful passing of Willis “Wiggs” French, on Tuesday, April 16, 2024, at the age of 82 years at Western Memorial Palliative Care in Corner Brook, NL.


He left this world peacefully in the loving embrace of family and fully knowing that he was in the hearts and prayers of his entire family, and the many friends and community members who were praying for him daily.


Born in Bay Roberts, NL on July 5, 1941, and raised in Corner Brook, NL, Willis, grew up on Prince Street. He was the youngest of his family and described by siblings and neighbours as having a big personality before he could barely walk. From an early age, he became known for his energetic spirit, and was well known for, and spotted throughout the west side by his ginger hair and full head of unruly curls, earning him his lifetime nickname “Wiggs.”


After many years in the Army Cadets, including being selected for the Banff National Army Cadet Camp in Banff Alberta, Willis joined the Canadian Forces Reserve as an infantry officer with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Newfoundland Regiment in Corner Brook. Wiggs played many sports but was happiest and known best in hockey circles. He played from a young boy right through to senior men’s and then the Oldtimers, establishing friendships along the way that lasted a lifetime. He met Maureen (Moe), the love of his life, and they married in 1963. They began their beautiful life together in their first home in Steady Brook. Wiggs was transient in his early career, with Simpson Sears and then the Federal Government (Employment Insurance), resulting in lots of adventure and joy, living, and raising their family throughout the Atlantic Provinces and Ontario, until another transfer took him back home to Newfoundland where he stayed.   Over the years he worked in the insurance industry and then in different business opportunities in Corner Brook, until retiring. He left an impression on all who came across his life path. 


To all who knew him and knew him well would say Wigger was a big ole softy at heart. He was a gentle man and a gentleman. He was one of a kind. Wiggs was a loving and devoted husband, father, father-in-law, grandfather, and loyal friend whose love was unconditional. He was a man of big character, a giant heart, and a caring soul. Wiggs was quite simple really - he taught by example. He always stood by his word with a firm handshake. He was a man of principles, great faith in The Lord, and lived a life of integrity, compassion, and gratitude. He represented the essence of goodness and loyalty. He epitomized the word kindness. Finding the good in everyone, he was the ultimate cheerleader and champion for anyone in his circle.


Wiggs had many lifelong friends, and the circle continued to grow over the years. He never went far without meeting someone he knew from a time back when. A testament to how he made friends -around every room, across the country and across the Atlantic. He was never at a loss for words, and never shied away from enjoyable conversation. He loved to laugh. He loved big family gatherings and hosting friends. The holidays were his most favorite time of year and without fail he was the biggest kid in the room. Wiggs was happiest being “on the go.” Throughout the years, he preferred to be outdoors whether it was on the water or during the winter snowshoeing, cross country skiing or playing or watching a variety of sports. He enjoyed just tinkering in the yard and taught his kids how to hold their first hammer, and stack wood. He could often be found helping build someone’s deck or enjoying cabin life boating and sitting around campfires. He will be remembered for cooking up a scoff, whether with the boy scouts, in hunting with the boys, or throwing on a pot of cabbage rolls for family and friends who popped by the house. His Saturday morning big breakfasts were a treasured tradition, creating cherished family memories.


By far, Wiggs’ favourite moments were spending time with and caring for his family, who he cherished and never tired of being an active part of their lives each and every day. He was the doting poppy, sword-fighting with baby forks, cheerios, and berries. He found so much joy winning but mostly losing toy room hockey games against his grandsons, using his trusted cane as his stick. He wanted a play by play of every game missed and faithfully watched games live streamed when he could not be there in person.  He appreciated the simple things in life and thoroughly enjoyed annual summer, spring and winter trips with Moe and spending the majority of those with his cherished grandchildren.


Wiggs is survived by the love of his life and best friend of 61 years, Maureen (nee O’Brien), who he always (right up to his last moments) so affectionately referred to as “my beautiful wife Moe.” His children and grandchildren will be forever thankful for his unconditional love, unwavering support and for how he continually found ways to tell them everyday how proud he was of everyone. He leaves behind his children and their families who adored him beyond measure; daughter Kimberly and granddaughter Jillian, son Gregory (Bonnie) and daughter Leanne (Ross) and grandsons Alex, Callum, and Connor. He was predeceased by his parents, Robert, and Winnifred (Roach) French and brothers: Arthur, Raymond, and Bill French; and sister, Mary Clarke.


Honouring Wiggs’ wishes a cremation has taken place and there will be no formal visitation at this time. There will be a celebration of life and interment at Mount Patricia Cemetery that will take place at a later date when all family can travel and be together. 


In remembrance of Wigg’s life, we would love to hear stories on the family guest book and the family asks that those who wish to express sympathy to please consider donating to charities that were important to Wiggs. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (jdrf.ca) and the Western Memorial Palliative Care Unit.


The family wishes to express their immense gratitude and appreciation for the beautiful care Dad received by the healthcare team at the Western Memorial Palliative Care unit.


Those we love don’t go away; they walk beside us everyday. Unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed, and very dear.


Love you always.

A Memorial Tree was planted for Willis
We are deeply sorry for your loss ~ the staff at Fillatre's Funeral Homes
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Willis French

In Loving Memory

Willis French

1941 - 2024

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