Neighbors: Bill Freund

 

Neighbors: Bill Freund

 

Date: February 2, 2012
by: Rachel S. O'Hara | Staff Photographer

 
 

 

Bill Freund is well-known in the world of economics, but he is the new kid on the block when it comes to the world of children’s books.

Freund, who lives half the year on Siesta Key and the other half in Chatham, N.J., has just written his first children’s book at the age of 85 and has plans to write another one by the end of this year.

“The Cookie that Saved My Family” is the true story of Freund’s family escaping from Germany during the beginning of the Nazi take-over, when Freund was 11 years old. His family was not allowed to carry any valuables, because those might be confiscated, but Freud’s mother thought ahead and persuaded a local baker to teach her the recipe for a traditional German cookie, lebkuchen. She memorized the recipe and explained to her family that no one could take away their knowledge and that one day the cookie recipe would come in handy.

When they arrived in the United States, the family of two parents and two children had $7. They found an apartment in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York, where many German immigrants lived. Freund helped to make ends meet by shining shoes. During World War II, when foreign delicacies were hard to come by, his mother began making the lebkuchens and opened her own bakery. The secret cookie recipe helped the family get on its feet.

The tasty tale from his childhood was a story Freund knew he wanted to tell, but he had never had the time. Prior to retiring three years ago, Freund was active in the world of economics. He was the senior vice president and chief economist for the New York Stock Exchange for 20 years, taught economics at Pace University for 18 years and wrote two books about economics. Even in retirement, he keeps his finger on the pulse of the economy by reading the Wall Street Journal every day.

When the cookie book came out in December, Freund was glad to hear feedback. The first people to receive his book were his five grandchildren.

“I shall treasure this book for the rest of my life,” wrote his grandchild, Rebecca, in an email.

Freund has plans to write another book, based on a true story about his sister-in-law called, “The Towel that Saved a Child.” He hopes to have it finished by the end of the year.

“I knew when I started this that this is not going to be a business or make money for me. It’s a hobby,” says Freund. “But it is extremely gratifying and I derive a lot of pleasure from it.”

 

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