Andre Paul Friant, resident of Blackhawk in Danville, California, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving family on Friday, October 2, 2020, after a short battle with cancer. He was 80 years old, having been born on February 6, 1940, to Lise and Paul Gaston Friant, in Clichy, France, a suburb of Paris. His father was taken prisoner of war in Germany during World War II and his mother died when he was 4 years old. He and his older brother, Claude, lived in occupied Paris with his grandmother until the war ended. After the war he was raised in Paris by his father and new step-mother, Alfreda, in Montmartre and then on Boulevard de Strasbourg in the 10th Arrondissement.
Andre always had an entrepreneurial spirit and was ambitious. He earned his engineering degree in France while working for the Renault automobile company and participating in their scholarship program. He met his first wife, Beverly, an American from San Francisco who was visiting his family. They eventually got married in France. He then served in the French Navy during the time of the Algerian war. He was stationed on an aircraft carrier and flew in fighter jets during the war. After getting his discharge from the French Navy, he was excited to come to the United States to join his wife in San Francisco and to have what he believed was a much greater opportunity for success than there was in France.
Initially he did not speak English and worked for a tool and die company and as an automobile salesman. He quickly learned English and soon began his career in the office furniture industry, first working for the M.G. West Company. He proudly became a naturalized US citizen on March 20, 1970. He was a partner in the Robert Morry Office Furniture Company, where he was very successful. In San Francisco he became well known in the industry and made many life-long friendships. In 1997 he began working with his two sons, Paul and Marc, at Friant and Associates in Oakland, a new office furniture manufacturing company that Paul had started, having learned the office furniture business from his father. Their office has recently moved to San Leandro. Andre was loved and admired by the staff and employees, always greeting everyone cheerfully when he arrived each morning. He loved his work in research and development and continued his career there until he first became sick in February of this year, never really wanting to retire.
Andre touched many people’s lives with his ever-enduring optimism and charisma. He enjoyed a reputation as a consummate gentleman who showed respect and kindness to everyone. His affection for his wife, his children, grandchildren and extended family is legendary. Christmas Eve at Grandpere’s and Grandma MirMir’s house was a family tradition.
He also enjoyed visiting family and extended family in France and Germany as well as in Arkansas, and he traveled to these places every year. Everyone who knew him adored his warmth, sense of humor and his great story-telling.
Andre is predeceased by both his parents and recently in January 2015 by his dear step-sister Jemmima Bruillard and in August 2016 by his beloved brother, Claude Friant, all in France. He is survived by his beloved wife of 22 years, Miriam Delay-Friant and his three children, Tanya Galvan (husband Edward), Paul Friant (wife Yia), and Marc Friant (wife Melody). He is also survived by his beloved younger sister in France, Denise Harnois (husband Michel), as well as nieces and nephews and extended family in France and Germany and the United States.
Having come to California from France in 1963, Andre and his first wife raised their three children in the Bay Area. Several years after his first marriage was over, Andre married his wife Miriam, the widow of his close friend Bernard Delay. She had three step-children from that marriage whom Andre came to consider as his step-children too and, being loving and inclusive, they had a blended family from which Andre is also survived by his step-children, Jean-Michel Delay, Laura Sandford, and Marc Delay (wife Rikke) and 15 grandchildren. The nine grandchildren from the Friant side of the family are: Juliana, Joseph, Annalisa, and Daniel Galvan, Isabella, Monica, and Mason Friant, and Samantha and Luke Friant, and the six grandchildren from the Delay side of the family are: Mary-Caitlin and Rebecca Delay, Jamie and Renee Sandford, and Anna and Andre Delay.
In addition to enjoying his work, Andre always enjoyed sports and was a champion team handball player in France. He played soccer in France and in San Francisco and was a soccer coach in Oakland. For many years he played tennis at Piper Park in Marin County with a group who became life-long friends. Finally, at the age of 67, Andre took up golf and loved it. He enjoyed playing golf with Miriam, all his golf group friends and enjoyed all the friends and acquaintances he met at Blackhawk. One of his favorite things to do was to play golf after work with his son, Paul. His was a life well-lived and he is forever loved and deeply missed.
A private family Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, October 24, from 3:00 pm to 7:00 pm at his home. At a later time to be announced there will be an open house or virtual Celebration of Life open to the public.
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