Melba Naomi Briles French

Melba Naomi Briles French

February 17, 1923-May 18, 2007

Melba Naomi French, 84, passed away in Bryan after a long illness. Funeral services will be held at her home church, First United Methodist, 506 E. 28th Street, Bryan at 2pm on Sunday, May 20, 2007. The Rev. Matt Idom and Rev. Bob Bray will be officiating. Burial will follow at the College Station Cemetery. She was preceded in death by her husband Darwood French in 1971.

Melba “Big Mama” French had 5 children; Gayle French and wife Merle of Bryan, Randy French and wife Cheryl of College Station, Jeff French and wife Valerie of Bryan, Melissa French of Atlanta, GA and Nina French of Houston. She had 9 grandchildren and 6 great grand children.

She founded and operated French’s Schools for over 20 years where she was affectionately know by the kids as “Frenchie Momma”. With a humble beginning in her home, the business grew with help of her devoted husband Darwood, to 5 commercial centers that served over 750 children per day. There are now hundreds of former students living in B-CS who felt her loving care. She also had numerous foster children as well as a large heart to help those in need.

The family ask that in lieu of flowers that a memorial donation be made to a charity that would be very close to her heart, Scotty’s House (child advocacy center), 502 S. Coulter Bryan, TX 77803.

Please leave condolences at


  1. Hello, Gayle and family, my thoughts and prayers are with you all for the loss of your mother. She was an inspiration and example for everyone. My mother passed away in December and I know how you must be feeling. Peace and blessings,

  2. Randy, Jeff and entire family

    I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your mother. She was a great lady. I have wonderful memories of her and your father due to the many many hours spent at the day care as a young child. I believe it was on Royal street. My brothers and I all went there, since we lived on Dunn Street.. it was very close.
    I am sure she will be fondly remembered by all the students she kept, because she was indeed their 2nd ‘Momma’.
    I will keep you and your families in my prayers during this time in your life.
    My condolences.. Debbie Godfrey Raley

  3. Oh how I loved Mrs. French! The days at her school are still some of my life’s most cherished memories. She was a sweet, FUNNY and practical woman who never looked the least bit surprised when Jack the goose bit me – she told me he would!! =) Thanks to Mrs. French I learned how much better fresh eggs are than store eggs, how important a good nap is, and that I should probably learn to be quiet during quiet time. She made learning fun and had an infinite amount of patience and affection for all of us. She did a wonderful thing for kids in Bryan and I know she will be dearly missed. I’m praying for all of you in her family, and just know that she touched so many lives!!

  4. To The French Family. I was out of town this weekend, or I would have been there. Mrs. French was so dear to me. As a matter of fact, I have my first ‘school’ pictures hanging in my hallway. The entire French family was so dear to my family. I remember the times I was allowed in the kitchen during nap time….I was running and hit my head on the cabinet door. Still have the scar on my forehead!! I remember the times Mrs. French would keep me at her home. She surely will be missed by many. My prayers and thoughts are with the family durning this time.

  5. My heart is saddened by the death of your mother. She and your dad were very kind and helpful in the care of our 3 sons in the late 1960’s when we were neighbors on Garden Acres. My prayers are with you. Sincerely, Nan

  6. Kent and I were very sad to read in the paper yesterday of Mrs. French’s death .We will never forget the goodness she and your dad showed to us when we came to Bryan in 1970. Our thoughts and prayers are with your family, and we will let our family in Italy know so they can get the word out there.She was remembered fondly by many in Italy.

  7. To all the French Kids,
    I was blessed to know all of you including your mom and dad. My three sisters and I all attended either Royal Tot or Wee Aggieland. Then I had the pleasure of working for the French family for 4 years during and after high school until you sold the daycares. What a wonderful woman ‘Big Momma’ was to not just us but every child who attended the schools. My heartfelt prayers are with the entire family. God Bless all of You.

  8. Oh the memories that are immediately brought to mind in learning that Big Momma has gone to meet Frenchie. Like so many in Bryan and College Station, they were surrogate parents for our children. It would have been impossible for me to go to graduate school and work if it had not been for the wonderful child care they provided. But more than that was the love they gave each child who ventured through the door. My thoughts and prayers are with each of you at this time. I also give you my profound thanks for sharing your parents with my children. Gayle

  9. I was so saddened to read of the passing of your dear mother. Although I did not go to the nursery school, I have fond memories of it. I know the children all loved her.

    May God hold you close to him during this time of saddness.
    Warm regards,


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