WASHINGTON, D.C. (CelebrityAccess) Mark French, founder of speakers bureau Leading Authorities, died May 3 in Washington, D.C.
According to a source, French suffered complications from the common ablation heart procedure after recovering from a stroke approximately four years ago.
He was president and CEO of Leading Authorities, one of the nation’s most prominent strategic event firms and lecture agencies. French founded Leading Authorities in December 1990 following more than a decade of achievement with two major national associations.
French has served on the Board of Directors for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and served on the boards of Bright Beginnings and MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital. He participated as a speaker at numerous industry events and was considered a key leader in the speaking industry.
His commentary on the speaking industry has been featured in numerous media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CNN, ABC News, and NBC News, to name just a few.
Current clients of Leading Authorities include former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Paul Ryan and Colin O’Brady, the first person to cross Antarctica unassisted.
“I am stunned and saddened,” said Tony D’Amelio, CEO of D’Amelio Network Speaker Management. “My friend Mark French, founder and head of Leading Authorities passed away today. A good and kind man – I will miss him so much. I am speechless. RIP Mark French.”
The company’s partner and exec VP Rainey Foster wrote the following dedication:
Mark D. French
Dearest Friend, Mentor, Brother
Left this world today —
And we weep.
Where do I begin?
A devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother and colleague
A friend who was beyond loyal and ferocious in his loyalty
An insatiable intellect
A serial entrepreneur
A force of nature
A champion of women
A beautiful, wondrous mind
And yes-often a bull in a china shop…
But he was our bull
I remember when I first started at Leading Authorities 22 years ago-
I was an out of work singer and Mark’s only encounter with me was when I used to crash ATA’s Annual Meetings when they held them out west…
My sister, Leslie and brother,
Clint -both at ATA at the time-would get me a room, where I promptly emptied the Mini bar ( never give an out of work musician the key to a minibar)
and then showed up at their reception, wearing a belt as a skirt with hair down to my rear and Los Angeles written all over me.
He was pretty horrified and I think I scared the living daylights out of him…
Regardless, a few years later, when I relocated to DC, and needed a job, he still hired me-
Now that was courage.
And then it began –
This wonderful, crazy dance for 22 years.
We were the new kids on the block- trying to make our way in an already established and highly competitive industry.
Many of us are still here -Marina, Matt, Tony and Helena -all veterans for over 20
years, building this business with Mark at the helm.
He had a new idea every 20 minutes-actually every 20 seconds
Mark rocked the boat.
Mark was a tidal wave .
You either hung on for dear life or you drowned.
We hung on and watched as others followed what was often considered an outrageous move by Mark and then became a benchmark in our industry
I remember about five years in, I proposed to Mark that we should start booking entertainment. We were content experts but our clients were also using entertainment at their galas.
This proved to be a difficult move as Mark
was a man who read 4 newspapers before 7am and relaxed by watching CSPAN and the History Channel.
He thought Dana Carvey was a stripper and then recommended that maybe we should book Helen Reddy or Judy Collins.
I asked him if either one was still alive?
But then he took the leap and ran with it and then ran even farther, which eventually led us
to opening 4 different portfolios of business-
We became contenders -we grew and grew and he was proud.
And we were too.
When my husband, Bill was killed 9 years ago in a plane crash, I had the
police call my sister and Mark. He was the first one at my door and virtually never left my side during those many dark years…
He then danced at my wedding 5 months ago…
He was my brother’s brother and they clashed as siblings often do-
but always came full circle in the end.
He wept at Clint’s funeral and continued to be ever present- helping to pick up the pieces for my family.
He adored his Carol- telling all he knew that she, Kathleen, Brian and Lauren were his greatest gifts.
He fought like a warrior after his devastating stroke 4 years ago and won the NRH Victory Award a year later for one of the most remarkable recoveries in the history of that institution
He skied again last winter – his great passion -made sweeter still with his dearest friends Matt and Tony by his side.
He was simply remarkable.
Good and kind and now a gentler version of himself…
With a moral compass that never wavered and is a rarity today.
I love you , Mark French.
There is no one like you and there never will be again.
You have left an indelible mark on our lives life and we are so very grateful.
You will never be forgotten.
May you soar with angels – the most beautiful one being your sweet daughter Kathleen who
I know is waiting for you -with open arms.