Before I begin, let me express my sincere condolences to Becky and Susie Freeman. I know Bill loved Becky. They've been through some good times and sad times but managed to keep it together through all of it. Bill's face would light up every time I asked about Susie. He was so proud of her and her gig at NASA. Hell, if Bill could have figured out a way to be on that shuttle instead of watching it, he would have done it.
My story begins in 1988 or so when I first met Bill. Bill was the reserve and acquisitions engineer at CODA Energy. It didn't take long to figure out he really knew his stuff and made my job as a bank engineer much easier. More importantly, I gradually began to know Bill as a person, and once I got past that gruff exterior it became apparent that Bill had a heart of gold as big as Texas. I learned that we shared a love of high school football, UT football, Southwest Conference football, Texas Ranger baseball, golf, hunting and fishing, skiing, and a general zest for life. From Bill, I learned to live every day as it might be my last.
During the last twenty years, I shared a lot of good times with Bill. Among the highlights were skiing at Vail/Beaver Creek, watching the US Open at Southern Hills, attending the MLB All Star game at the Ballpark in Arlington, dove hunting at the palatial hunting lodge in Electra Texas, playing a couple of rounds of golf with Bill and Russell Romoser at Southern Hills in Tulsa. The highlight of all the bucket list items was going with Bill to the 2002 Masters at Augusta National. Bill called and saying he had a couple of tickets and asked if I could go for the Thursday/Friday rounds. I figured he was pulling my leg, but it gradually dawned on me he wasn't joking. Didn't take long for me to book a flight to Atlanta and join Bill for the golf trip of my life. We must have covered every inch of that golf course during those two days. I believe that Susie came up and joined him for the last two days and they were able to watch Tiger make history. I know i came back with $700 worth of goodies for my buddies.
I feel fortunate to have known Bill Freeman. He was one of my heroes and I'll miss him.
Add your memories by commenting to this post. Maybe I didn't quite think this out.... not anyone can post to this blog - but you can comment to my posts. There is also the ability to add authors to this blog - if you would like to be added, please let me know! Additional authors I add will be able to post freely to this blog.
James William Freeman, age 68, died from a heart attack on Saturday, March 14, 2009 at Cape Canaveral waiting for the shuttle launch. He had been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer Thanksgiving, but had successful surgery in mid December. He died before any true battle with cancer – and was still very active. In fact, only 75 days after major pancreatic surgery at the Mayo Clinic, he went skiing at Beaver Creek. At his post surgery check-up he had asked Dr. Kaye Reid Lombardo, his Mayo Clinic surgeon, when he could play golf. She looked at him puzzled and when asked if he actually felt good enough to play golf, he said almost – and with a smile she said as soon as he felt good enough.
His bucket list, as Phil described it, was more like a 25 gallon galvanized tub. And he had good friends that helped him check each item off. Good friends indeed… lifelong friends. He was a good, caring man who would help out someone in need, no matter the cost. The impact on his friends and family of his passing is testament to their love for him.
He died before that launch… but he had a much better view than we earthbound viewers. And that launch was magnitudes more beautiful and representative of his zest for life.
One of his many passions was their summer home on Flint Creek in northeast Oklahoma. He was a hard worker, constantly improving life at Flint – while enjoying every minute of it.
He also loved sports and managed to find himself in Augusta at the Masters when Tiger won, the Rose Bowl when Texas won the national championship, Indy 500s, Busch Stadium front row on the dugout for game 5 when the Cardinals won the World Series, and this year’s Super Bowl.
Equally enjoyable was his love for music – of which you have all had the unique pleasure to experience today. He loved the local music scene and has, on occasion been know to throw Bo Diddley a birthday party – only later to find out Bo would have come had he known!!!
He is survived by his wife, Becky, daughter Susan Freeman of Seabrook, Texas, niece/daughter Nacha Guzman and her husband Roy Guzman of Denton, Texas, and sister Barbara Milligan of Ft. Myers, Florida. Bill resided in McKinney, Texas. He met his wife while receiving his BS from Tulsa University and was on the golf team. He worked for Exco Resources in Dallas and Tulsa.
His funeral will take place in Siloam Springs, Arkansas at a later date. The family requests, instead of flowers, donations be made in his memory to the Mayo Clinic for pancreatic cancer surgical research.
Welcome! I decided in order to capture all the wonderful stories and memories of Dad, we would start a blog in his name. This allows his friends and family to contribute to this memorial - and share their memories with those he loved. And anything we receive on email, we will add as well. Feel free to share how his life impacted yours - and toss in a picture or two!