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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 5 years ago

Obituary: Richard Merrell 'Dick' Freeman

by: Mallory Gnaegy A&E Editor

Richard Merrell “Dick” Freeman, of Sarasota, and formerly of Longboat Key and Chicago, died Jan. 17. He was 90.

Mr. Freeman was born July 2, 1921. In his youth, he was an Eagle Scout, president of his class and, in his senior year, was elected governor of Hoosier Boy’s State. He graduated in 1939 from Crawfordsville High School.

Mr. Freeman attended Wabash College, where he was captain of the golf team, a member of Beta Theta Pi and elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. He graduated in 1943.

Following graduation, he joined the Navy Reserve and served as an officer in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters during World War II. He married Joanne Spears Nov. 26, 1943. After leaving the Navy in 1946, he attended Columbia University Law School and graduated in 1948.

Mr. Freeman began his legal career as an attorney with the Tennessee Valley Authority and later joined the Chicago law firm that became Belnap, Spencer, Hardy and Freeman. In 1967, he accepted the position of general counsel and vice president of law for the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad.

A few years later he helped to form a corporation to purchase the railroad. Mr. Freeman also led a successful effort to persuade the Illinois Legislature to create the RTA, a regional transportation agency composed of five northeastern Illinois counties to operate the commuter service of five railroads and the Chicago Transit Authority.

While residing in Glencoe, Ill., he was a member of the Glencoe Union Church and chaired the Board of Trustees.

In 1978, President Jimmy Carter appointed Mr. Freeman as one of the three directors of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Following three U.S. Senate hearings, he was confirmed for a nine-year term. While living in Knoxville, Tenn., he became active in civil affairs and was president of the Knoxville Symphony Society. Mr. Freeman resigned from the TVA in 1986 and after a few years, moved to the Sarasota area, first to Longboat Key and then to The Glenridge of Palmer Ranch Retirement Community.

Mr. Freeman served for several years on the executive committee and as an officer of the Sarasota Symphony. Throughout his life, Mr. Freeman enjoyed his weekly golf outings and traveling worldwide with his wife.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Joanne; and brother, William. He is survived by four children, Randy Freeman, Mark Freeman, Candy Vance and Marcia Albrecht; eight grandchildren; two step-grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to The United Way of Sarasota County, 1445 Second St., Sarasota, Fla, 34236.


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