Williamsburg native Bill Freeman lived a full life, working over 40 years at what was then Cumberland College wearing several hats during his tenure. In addition, he served his country in the U.S. Army during WWII, served on the Williamsburg Independent Board of Education, was a deacon at Williamsburg’s First Baptist Church, and was active in the Masonic Lodge.
“Bill Freeman is Mr. Cumberland,” wrote Dave Bergman, then director of alumni services at the University of the Cumberlands, in the fall 2007 edition of Cumberland Today, the school’s alumni magazine.
Billy Floyd Freeman died Friday, Sept. 18, at the age of 95.
A celebration of life is planned on Friday, Sept. 25, with outdoor visitation taking place from 1 – 2:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church in Williamsburg.
The service will take place at 2:30 p.m. with Rev. Doyle Lester and Rev. Ande Myers officiating. Masks and social distancing are encouraged. A graveside service will follow for immediate family only.
Freeman was born at the Bon Jellico Mining Camp, which is just outside Williamsburg, on April 17, 1925. He graduated from Williamsburg High School in 1943, and then enlisted in the United States Army during WWII.
After serving his country in Hawaii, he returned to Williamsburg, and attended Cumberland College, and got his BS at Union College before earning his master’s degree in speech pathology at the University of Tennessee.
He married the love of his life, Wanda Ann Bowling Freeman, in 1956, and they were together for 63 years.
Freeman spent 44 years at Cumberland College.
“Bill Freeman was an incredible man and is widely admired by all that knew him. During more than four decades of service at Cumberlands, he touched nearly every area of campus, working with the academic, admissions, development, and media relations departments. Bill was a great treasure. He leaves a tremendous legacy and will be sorely missed,” noted University of the Cumberlands President Dr. Larry Cockrum.
Williamsburg Mayor Roddy Harrison added that Williamsburg has lost another of its icons.
“Bill Freeman was a man loved by all and was a staple around the city. Long-time professor at Cumberland College, he loved Williamsburg, and was always involved in making the city better, as well as Williamsburg City School as a board member,” Harrison said.
“He was kind, friendly, and always had a smile on his face, and he just made you feel good. Mr. Freeman and his wife, Wanda, were a fixture at our block parties dancing the night away, too. He will be missed.”
Although he was still able to live on his own, Freeman moved into Hickory Hills Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Henderson, Tennessee, a few years ago with his wife after she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
Even though he was in a nursing home, Freeman still found ways to continue educating people.
Logan Pascarella first met Freeman last summer when his mother moved into Hickory Hills Alzheimer’s Special Care Center in Henderson, Tennessee. It didn’t take long before Pascarella and his family befriended and adopted Freeman as a member of their own family.
Pascarella’s two daughters, Ellasyn, (3), and McKinley, who was five at the time, became quick apprentices to Freeman, who taught the girls how to play the “spoons.”
“I, nor my wife, had never heard of playing music with two ordinary soup spoons attached back to back so we too became students along with our children,” Pascarella said in an e-mail to the News Journal earlier this year.
“Every time we come to visit my mom (Grandma) the girls will ask to play spoons with Mr. Bill and they put on quite the performance for other residents as they sing and play to the tune of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ and ‘Jesus Loves Me.’”
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Bill Freeman Memorial Fund at the University of the Cumberlands (www.ucumberlands.edu/give) or mailed to: University of the Cumberlands, Office of the President, 6191 College Station Drive, Williamsburg, KY, 40769. The funds will be used to assist students in need.
Online condolences can be made to either of his sons Steven Todd Freeman or Billy Freeman via Facebook.
For complete obituary information, see page A-12 in this week’s edition of the News Journal.