Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
It’s been a year since European-born couple Jean and Philippe Trochard uprooted themselves from France and moved to Lincoln County.
They now consider the American community their true “home.”
The couple visited the county for a month more than a year ago and knew then and there it was the place for them.
Jean said she first ventured to Lincolnton in 1970 in order to learn more about her father’s family, who grew up in the area.
Since her father Robert Coyle “Doc” Lockman died when she was just 4 years old, she desperately desired to find out all that she could about him and visit his grave in the church cemetery at Asbury United Methodist Church.
She said he went to Europe with the United States Army, and while there, met and married her mother.
Born in Germany, Jean spent most of her childhood and adult years in France, and at age 19, traveled across the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in hopes of connecting with local aunts, uncles and cousins.
More importantly, she wanted to get to know her grandmother.
“For me, that was very important,” she said.
With limited knowledge of English, Jean experienced extreme culture shock upon her arrival.
She said the country’s native tongue and food were the most difficult for her to grow accustomed to.
For the two years she lived in Lincoln County with her Aunt Bobby Warlick, she attended Lincolnton High School for a year followed by a year at Gaston College. During her time at Gaston, she served as the French teacher’s assistant, and to this day, still maintains a friendship with him.
After finding numerous area relatives, Jean said her local roots extended much farther than she could have imagined. She discovered a half-sister from her father’s previous marriage.
“I like this little town,” Jean said about Lincolnton. “People are friendly here.”
Jean and Philippe currently live in the Lincoln Forest neighborhood off N.C. 150.
Due to the home’s initial declining state, they worked furiously to remodel and renovate the residence when they moved in last summer.
The couple also stays quite busy in the community, frequenting the local YMCA, hosting dinner parties and card game nights as well as participating in other activities across the region. They particularly want to get involved with volunteer work at a local nonprofit, Jean said.
The couple is set to visit France the end of August in order to visit their children and grandchildren.
While the pair still pines for fresh French seafood, cheaper socialized medicine, beautiful coastal landscapes and their southwestern town of Bordeaux, they have no plans to permanently return to the European country.
“We came here not to stay with French people,” Jean said, “but to be with American people.”