James “Frenchy” French 1964–2021

From his friend Stephanie Hessen:

James was kind, funny, hardworking, intelligent, creative and the sweetest soul I’ve met. Honest to a fault and would give you anything. He loved music. He could sing CCR like no other. He drew and learned he could paint. Loved Seahawks, T-bones and wine.

He was a union carpenter and laborer for 25 years. He became ill and very depressed and lost his condo, job, relationship and health. He began selling Real Change in 2007, right after we met, at the 3rd and Vine Rite Aid. He was a giant heart of the old Belltown – before the condos.

James participated in Seattle Insiders 3-part docu-series and fun, goofy challenges. He donated money he saved to Seattle Children’s Hospital and was on KIRO news. Appeared in “Out on a Limb” documentary in 2011/2012. Premiered at SIFF about homelessness in Seattle.

I met him when I was 21. He taught me so much. We got kicked out of a KISS concert at Key Arena in 2008. He was a military brat. Showed me killer music—classic rock. While he was staying outside Street Bean in Belltown a random attempted murderer kicked him while he slept. He had 15 staples in his head and I watched over him. We danced a lot. He loved the WII bowling. He had an RV and taught me how to cook. He taught me about life. I loved him so much the grief is horrible. He needs to be remembered.


James was born October 15, 1964.  He died of multiple sclerosis June 21, 2021 in Walla Walla, with family.

Real Change Obituary

James’s Leaf is at 2013 Third Avenue. If you have photos or memories to share, please post a comment.

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