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Frédéric Chavanne (1955-2023)

Tribute from his son Etienne at his funeral in Paris

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Dear Dad,

You have just left us, very early, at the age of 68. It's a husband, father, brother and grandfather all leaving at the same time.

For my sister, it's a pillar of her life who's leaving; this father with whom she confronted her vision of the world as it became clearer. She shared with him her discoveries, her questions, but also her sorrows and joys. He advised her in her decisions.

For me your son it is the loss of a father to whom I would proudly announce the completion of an internship, the validation of a diploma, the landing of a job, the awarding of a degree, the increase in my responsibilities, and finally my marriage and the birth of one, two, then three sons. For all these things are nothing without the esteem of a father.

Dear father, this sad and painful moment leads us to go through the beautiful book of your life, which I would like to consider today under three aspects: the man, the father and his intellectual legacy.

The man.

You were a man of passion, constantly in search of a better world.

Influenced by your early years in Morocco and steeped in a Christian upbringing, you found your reason for living in concern for others and conflict resolution.

We closely followed a number of round-table discussions organized in Caux, Switzerland, to promote cease-fires in Africa, which I often explained to those around me as parallel diplomacy.

In France, you also worked with all your cards to bring together the minorities who live in this country, where pride clashes, but produces explosive results when they are led together towards their common salvation.

A man of faith and a true Protestant, you read the Bible every week and fed our Sunday lunchtime discussions with your interpretations.

You were also the man who managed our house in Versailles, the foundation of our youth, and oversaw our family finances with method and meticulousness.

You were a man of principles.

We didn't smoke. We didn't drink. We learned that money isn't gambled, it's earned.

You wanted us to learn to think for ourselves. We did.

The only time the TV came on was when there was an instructional documentary or FHVM (a film with high moral value).


Of course, your fatherly principles didn't escape the onslaught of our adolescence.

In the face of your methodical adherence to our lessons, I had to invent a coded phonetic alphabet, from which to stick my crib sheets on the wall behind you when you made me recite them and make you believe I'd learned them.

You regulated the use of walkmans and other disc players, so as not to damage our ears. We had to own several to be able to break the rule, and always keep an ear open for the arrival of authority.

You often tried to elevate the topics of conversation to a dimension of general interest, but you frequently came up against our more basic problems.

You didn't want us to go out more than once in a weekend, so we sometimes ran away through the kitchen, and once or twice were chased down the garden path, before being exfiltrated for my part on an accomplice's scooter.

You forgave us for all these things, and we laughed about them together in retrospect.

So yes, we put your principles to the test, we twisted them, we tried with or without, but the major effect was achieved because our lives were well framed.

You've always been a loving father.

Despite our deviations or failures, your love has always remained unconditional.

I remember you saved my driver's license by taking the ultimate penalty for me.

After I failed my first business school recruitment exam, I remember how you lifted me up. You found me an entrance exam and accommodation next to a new school, encouraged me and got me back on track.

Later in life, when our opinions differed, you listened to me and respected my point of view.

And I can't talk about the father without mentioning the grandfather, which thank God you had the time to be. A loving grandfather, who had a tender relationship with his three little sons, especially Wandrille, whom you used to take on bike rides when he was very young, much to the delight of both of you. And he loved working in the garden with you.

Finally, I'd like to talk about

Intellectual heritage.

We have observed in you a number of qualities that we have learned to value in today's fast-paced world. I'll mention just five.


You taught me in my younger days that you have to look at the main points of a statement, a text, a lesson, in order to convey it properly. And that the overall vision is what links the major axes and gives them meaning. Vision is also the meaning we give to a task, a mission, and which enables us to rally around ourselves.

A sense of responsibility

As we played Monopoly, you were already teaching us how to manage our money, and later how to keep account books and draw up a budget, disciplines that are so crucial today in our adult lives.

You taught me how to process information, and showed me how creativity and pragmatism combined make for greater efficiency.


With you, we've seen how far we can go when we're driven by our passion. And how even insomnia can be put to good use.

For you, it was the creation of a better world and our links as French people with Africa and the Arab world. From now on, it's up to us to identify our passions and direct them, as you did, towards promising subjects.


As Mum says, you knew how to put yourself in other people's shoes. You taught us to enter into different ways of thinking.

In this way, we can build relationships with people from all cultures and all levels of society.

The power of forgiveness

Forgiveness, sometimes so difficult to give, is like a key that defuses crises. I must admit to having experienced this myself. Forgiveness sows peace, and peace benefits us all.


To conclude, I'd like to talk about

The richness of your last few weeks.

What a wonderful collaboration between father and son, what an edifying experience to have worked hard at your side these last few weeks, against the clock in the face of illness, with an unknown ultimate deadline, but keeping a cool head.

True to yourself, for the past year you had been meticulously preparing your departure so that we could take over and ensure many happy and peaceful years for Mom.

In this collaboration, I realized to what extent, despite your apparent calm, you were the rock of the family. May God give me the strength to take over from you.

Etienne Chavanne

Farewell service for my father Frédéric,

Saturday, February 18, 2023

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Article type
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Publishing permission
Publishing permission refers to the rights of FANW to publish the full text of this article on this website.