Joan Grace Irene (née Jorginson) French
Born: December 11, 1935 (Calgary)
Died: September 28, 2013 (Calgary)
Softball Canada Hall of Fame (1986)
Alberta Sports Hall of Fame (1984)
Softball Alberta Hall of Fame (1983)
An infielder known for her timely hits, Joan French later became one of the sport’s best-known coaches and administrators in the country.
She was a Canadian all-star at third base before becoming coach of the senior A Trimac Tires women’s softball team in her hometown of Calgary. She guided the Tires to four national tournaments from 1968 to 1972, including a silver medal at the first Canada Summer Games.
She was called the “Sparky Anderson of Calgary softball.” She acknowledged she’d had more than a few on-field discussions with umpires.
“Back in those days, I knew the rulebook from the front cover to the back cover,” she told the Calgary Sun in 2005. “Most of the arguments aren’t on the technical side, it’s on the interpretation side. We used to have some real heated discussions.”
She was acknowledged by Sport Alberta, on whose executive she served for many years, including a term as president, as one of the hardest-working persons in amateur sports in Calgary. French’s contributions to the sport of softball gained her induction into three sports halls of fame.
French, who died from lung cancer, leaves Renate Janzen, her partner of 19 years. She also leaves a son, Jeff French. She was predeceased by another son, B. Grant French, and by four brothers and three sisters. An amateur sport and education foundation has been founded in her name.