Darrell Van French of McAlester, Oklahoma | 1930 – 2022

For Immediate Release –  September 14, 2022 — McAlester, OK – – Darrell Van French, 92, passed away at his home on September 12, 2022.

A memorial service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, September 17, 2022 at Bishop Chapel of Memories with Willard Francis officiating.

Van was born on August 23, 1930 to Henry French and Beatrice VanMeter French at their home in Skagg City, a small community outside of Tecumseh. He was a 1949 graduate of Tecumseh High School.

Van began working in the Oklahoma oil field at the age of 20 as a roughneck with Falcon Seaboard Drilling Company. Over the years, he worked as a driller, a toolpusher and then a drilling consultant. In 1979, Van established the Van French Consulting Company and began working as an independent drilling and completion consultant. He worked for multiple companies including Mustang Fuel and GHK until retiring at the age of 79. Having worked all over the United States, one of his biggest accomplishments was in Southeastern Oklahoma drilling a four mile deep well. At that time, the deepest well west of the Mississippi.

In 1979, Van married Margie Kay Turner in Las Vegas.

Margie was a lifelong horse lover, and Van introduced her to the world of thoroughbred horse racing. For the next 40 years, Van and Margie bred, raised, and raced many thoroughbreds and received numerous awards. Van served on multiple boards benefitting the racing industry. In 2017, he was recognized by the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association with the distinct Industry Service Award.

Van was a lifelong Democrat and a 67-year member of the Tecumseh Masonic Lodge #69.

Van is survived by his wife: Margie; children: Rhonda Holbert of Shawnee, Dr. Wade French of Brookings, South Dakota, Kelly Browne Jones of McAlester, Tracy Villines of Meeker, and Karla Browne Whitworth of Sherman, Texas; grandchildren: Justin Holbert, Alisha Holbert, Jarrod Villines, Jenna Browne-Arabaci, Sara Ortiz, Kyle Villines, Regan Browne, Macy Whitworth, and Shayna Villines; 12 great-grandchildren; and multiple nieces and nephews.

Van was preceded in death by his parents: Henry and Beatrice French, granddaughter: Hayley Villines, sons: Curtis French and Tracy Browne, sister: Joyce Townsend, and brother: Jack French.

In lieu of flowers, we ask that you please consider donating to the Racetrack Chaplaincy or the charity of your choice in memory of Van. Remington Racetrack Chaplaincy 1 Remington Place Oklahoma City, OK  73111

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Edward J. DeBartolo (at that time, the owner of Balmoral, Thistledown and Louisiana Downs) built Remington Park in Oklahoma City as a $100 million showcase for Thoroughbred racing. The inaugural race meet during the fall of 1988 was an opportunity for Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen to race in their home state and for horsemen from throughout the region to enjoy Oklahoma’s hospitality.

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