Saved fliers as part of French Resistance
Sheltered pilots under siege in France
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.