Saved fliers as part of French Re­sis­tance

Shel­tered pi­lots un­der siege in France

Chicago Sun-Times - - Obituaries - BY MAU­REEN O’DON­NELL

In his new life in Amer­ica, Roger Fourmaux was an in­trepid troublesho­oter who could fix any of Nabisco’s cookie-mak­ing ma­chines, and a proud French­man who loved the wine of his home­land and the mu­sic of Gal­lic spar­row Edith Piaf.

Be­fore that, in war­time, he and his fam­ily were mem­bers of the French Re­sis­tance, cred­ited with sav­ing 17 pi­lots in one day, rel­a­tives said.

Mr. Fourmaux, 87, died Jan. 20 at ManorCare of Wil­mette.

Dur­ing the war, Al­lied forces flew over Mr. Fourmaux’s home­town of Bre­bieres in north­ern France. At times, the skies roared with Bel­gian and Bri­tish planes, said his son Serge. The Nazi oc­cu­piers of Bre­bieres did their best to shoot down the pi­lots. When they suc­ceeded, it was a race be­tween the Ger­mans and the Fourmaux fam­ily and other Bre­bieres res­i­dents to get to the avi­a­tors first. The Re­sis­tance nursed in­jured fliers and hid them.

Mr. Fourmaux, his two broth­ers and his fa­ther were rec­og­nized with Re­sis­tance medals from the French, Bel­gian and English gov­ern­ments, ac­cord­ing to his son.

“They were very young and brave,” Serge Fourmaux said. “My grand­mother al­ways said how lucky she was that all of them sur­vived.”

The Fourmaux an­ces­tral home, with walls as thick as 2 feet, be­came a refuge for Bre­bieres res­i­dents dur­ing bomb­ings, his son said.

L’amour made Mr. Four- maux take chances. De­spite a Ger­man cur­few, the son said, “My fa­ther would get on his bi­cy­cle in the mid­dle of the night to see my mom, who he was madly in love with. The Nazis, with Ger­man shep­herds, were chas­ing him.”

But Mr. Fourmaux used his knowl­edge of the coun­try­side to evade them.

He mar­ried the lovely Ge­or­gette, and died just four days be­fore they would have been mar­ried 65 years.

Af­ter the war, Mr. Fourmaux be­came a French para­trooper in Port Lyautey, Morocco. He and his wife loved the heat and ter­rain, but they im­mi­grated to the United States in 1953 be­cause she had fam­ily in Evanston.

Here, he be­came a fore­man at a Nabisco ma­chine shop in Evanston. He tested ma­chines by stamp­ing out cook­ies — and brought home gi­ant bags filled with Oreos.

Af­ter he re­tired, Mr. Fourmaux re­paired fur­ni­ture at his son’s Cen­tral Street an­tique shop, named Lib­erty’s for the ship that car­ried him to Amer­ica. It was the Ger­man ship Europa, seized as repa­ra­tions and re­named for free­dom.

Mr. Fourmaux is also sur­vived by his brother Ray­mond and sis­ter Rolande Aurel. His fam­ily plans to take his ashes back to Bre­bieres this sum­mer.

Roger Fourmaux, his broth­ers and their fa­ther were rec­og­nized for their ef­forts with the French Re­sis­tance.

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