Spotlight COlorado  

Have You Met?

David French maintained a high profile in Denver in the 80’s and 90’s. He was always in the news not only because of his great knack for developing challenging properties and opening new restaurants, but because he gave so much of his time and support to a number of local charities. David lives his belief that you should give 40 percent of your time back to your community. He has always had an abiding interest in the education of students and his greatest passion is international education, so many of his contributions were in support of that cause. Currently, he’s committing his time to a new venture, the Orbis Institute. “The institute is a fully fledged 501 (c) (3) and its mission is international education for high school and college kids. The program embodies the concept of leadership, international leadership and world affairs.”

David’s interest in the world began when he was nineteen and took a People to People” trip the summer of 1963. “I didn’t have a real sense of what was happening in the world until I took that trip. I stayed with families in Germany, England and France and it opened my eyes to the world.” After his graduation from the University of Colorado, David attended Northwestern for his graduate degree. Because he wasn’t carrying a full load, he was drafted and spent three years in the army and a year in Vietnam. “The Vietnam experience doesn’t haunt me but I have kind of a John Kerry feeling about it. I was an intelligence officer and at twenty-three I was trying to tell the advisors to the Vietnamese where the enemy was. At that age, how much did I know? It was a joke in a way.”

After Vietnam, David traveled for two years with an army buddy. “We hitchhiked through South America then hopped a Brazilian coffee-boat and traveled around Algiers, Lebanon and France. Then we bought a Volkswagen, traveled through Europe, and then drove it from Finland to Russia. We stayed with Russian families while we were there. After journeying through Eastern Europe and Istanbul, my buddy decided he was ready to go back home but I continued my travels and went overland through Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nepal, India and up to Burma. From there it was down to Thailand, over to Indonesia and then to Australia, where I taught school for six months. I bought an open-dated ticket from Sydney to Rome and ended up in East Africa, where I started in Johannesburg, up through Rhodesia, Tanzania, Egypt, Cyprus and Israel. I got back to Europe- by now it’s almost two years- bought another Volkswagen and traveled with some young people I had met. They wanted to go to the Isle of Wight off England where there was a Jimi Hendricks concert. It was right after the concert that Jimi Hendricks went to London and OD’d. I was twenty-seven at the time and decided that I didn’t need to go to any more rock concerts and figured it was time to go back home.”

David came back to Denver and started a real estate career with Grubb & Ellis. Seven years later, he started his own business, French and Company, which was a small development company. “All of a sudden 25 years went by. During that period, I spent 40 percent of my time in non-profit work. I think America has to be the premier community for volunteerism and I love the fact that we, as a society, can volunteer and volunteer. At some point, non-profits can replace some forms of government. In terms of government doing social service, we’ll take care of it.” David has always taken time from his busy work schedule to volunteer. “I was a Big Brother in the Big Brother program and had three little brothers. Last night I called one of my little brothers for his birthday. He was nine when I became his big brother and he just turned 39. Wow!

David served on the board of the “I Had a Dream Foundation” to help children’s education and was involved with Griffith Center, where he helped start a ranch down by Larkspur for emotionally disturbed children. “Kids spend a whole year there working through their issues. I’m very conscious of the fact that most of the problems are behind closed doors and inside the home.” David considers the Children’s Museum as one of the most intriguing of his non-profit ventures because it was real estate and kids. “We were able to move the museum over to its current location and that was a good.” David serves on the advisory board for Colorado Leadership Alliance and was on the board of the World Trade Center for ten years. “My mission there was to work on international education. It provided the groundwork for my current focus”

Do you have a favorite childhood story? What is it? When I was about twelve, my best buddy and I went into the neighborhood and obtained about twenty contracts for mowing lawns. I remember getting my first Toro lawn mower and that was my start as a young entrepeneur.

What’s in your future? Development of World Camp where 40 high school students from the U.S. and around the world will spend the summer developing international leadership skills. It will allow Denver to have high school kids go back into their world, and years later, they will be a part of the international scene.

Which social event is your favorite? Three good friends on a golf course. Urban Peak Annual Dinner

Favorite restaurant? Tadich Grille in San Francisco

Who is the most interesting celebrity you have ever met? Mohammed Ali. He impressed me.

If your life were a movie, whom would you want to play your part? Harrison Ford. He’s energetic and adventuresome

Do you have any pets? . No

What word describes you best? Loyal and trustworthy

How would you like others to describe you? Loyal and trustworthy

What was your first job? Selling baby furniture at Sears in Cherry Creek

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? Procrastination. I don’t like detail

What trait do you most deplore in others? Hurtful and harmful. People that cause mental and physical harm to others

What is your greatest indulgence? Chocolate

What type of clothes do you like? Casual, no suits

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Read both papers

What’s the last thing you do before bed? Read a magazine on current affairs

Favorite comfort food? Pasta

Tell me something about yourself that people would be surprised to know about you. I lost my hair in my 20’s and I have visited over 70 different countries

What is the best gift you have ever given? Friendship

What is the best gift you’ve received? Health

What or who is the greatest love in your life? My parents

What is your current state of mind? Energetic, compassionate and getting stuff done

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Raising three “little brothers” in the Big Brother program

What is your most treasured possession? Health

What is the quality you most like in a man? Mental strength

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Passion

Favorite books/writers? Leadership by Rudolf Giuliani

What is the best advice you have ever received? A developer told me once that I had to have ESP; Enthusiasm, sincerity and perseverance

Do you have a motto? Deal with it, get involved and the world is run by those that show up. I love bumper stickers!

What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you? My roommate threw out some kind of potion that was supposed to save my hair. He just threw it out. It was pretty funny at the time.

If you could come back in another lifetime, what/who would you like to be? And why? Ghandi. We need to have more people like him.

What are your hobbies? Other interests? Golf, hiking, outdoor activities, studying international relations and world affairs

Who is your mentor? Ghandi

What would you most like to be remembered for? I hope people will say, “He was a good, trustworthy and intimate friend.”

If you could go anywhere and do anything, what would it be? Spend a year in China

What do you like about the town you live in? It’s big enough for many activities, a real major city, but it’s small enough to know many people