Donald Lloyd Freeman

Donald Lloyd Freeman — October 13, 1931 to October 6, 2014

Grandpa-captionI’d like for you to remember my husband, Don. I interviewed him for 54 years, so I think I know this subject fairly well.

Don was born in Portland, OR, the only child of Frank and Mildred Freeman.

After High School, he attended Portland State College for one term and then he joined the U.S. Navy. He was stationed at Moffit Field near San Francisco for most of his enlistment after “boot camp”, but was deployed aboard the USS Essex for about three months (one cruise). He worked as an aviation electrician during his military service. This was during the Korean War -he was very fortunate to be only tangentially involved in this war.

When Don completed his tour of duty in the Navy, he used the GI Bill to return to Portland State College, then transferred to Oregon State University where he graduated with a degree in Electrical Engineering.

We met in October, 1959, three months after he finished college and the day after I completed nursing school. We were married the following May, and then we moved to The Dalles, OR, to be near his job with the Bonneville Power Administration.

At the Bonneville Power Administration he worked as a meter and relay engineer for several years. He transferred to work for the Coast Guard and we moved to Seattle in 1962 during the World Trade Fair. His job with the Coast Guard was to maintain the aids to navigation and he also helped design some of the stations. His office was next to the Smith Tower in downtown Seattle — the Smith Tower was the tallest building in Seattle at the time.

Next he went to the Navy and we moved to Bremerton to be near his work in the Navy shipyard. When the Trident Nuclear Submarine base in Bangor, WA, was in the planning stages, Don went to work with the team that was given the task of planning the support facilities for the submarine. This not only meant planning the buildings, but also the dock areas, ammunition storage areas, demagnetization facilities for the subs and the training facilities for the military people who were stationed at the base. The submarines were built on the east coast and then transferred to their new home in Bangor.

When the base was finished, his job was done and he decided that it was time to see some of the rest of the world. He took a job for the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and we were transferred to Frankfurt, Germany, where we lived for the next 12 years. It was an interesting time for our family. Our 4 children went to America military schools and eventually all transferred back to the States to complete college. I worked as the school nurse for the Frankfurt International School. We were involved with young military people and officers, but lived in the German community.

One of the challenges Don had in this job was a sort of competition with young soldiers who were bored and took aim at the light fixtures in the barracks with their boots. They would make bets to see how many times it would take to lob a boot at a light fixture and take it out. It was Don’s job to make the fixtures “soldier proof”. He had mixed success with this project.

Don and the other engineers in his office did some interesting and extensive projects while we lived there. They renovated the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt. It was a large modern military hospital that provided medical support for US military personnel and Americans who were working in Germany under the Status of Forces Agreement from World War II.

Toward the end of our time in Germany, Don spent several months in Turkey near the Black Sea where they planned and constructed a desalinization plant to turn salt water into drinking water. This plant was later given to the Turkish government and the 97th General Hospital was given to the German government. Right after his time in Turkey, he spent a couple of weeks in Norway preparing a very large generator to be shipped to South America to be repaired.

Much of the time he was in Germany, he and his German colleague traveled to bases all over the country to do anything that was needed for their electrical requirements. He loved this part of his time there. Hans knew all the best Gasthauses to stay in and the best local places to eat and was his translator and friend. They had many routine jobs and some challenging ones and worked with officers and civilians alike.Our years in Germany provided a unique opportunity for us to travel. We had full access to the USO travel office as well as the local German travel agencies and had the ability to schedule trips that were inexpensive and unusual. We traveled to Paris, Venice, Florence, Rome, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark, Greece, Turkey, Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, England, Lichtenstein, Brussels and many more. Our children have often thanked us for this unusual opportunity to see Europe as part of their life and education.

When we came back to the States, Don retired and we moved to Oregon to be near his parents. We had been there 4 years and the urge to be near our children in the Seattle area proved to be too much and we moved to Bothell, Washington.

During our time in Bothell, Don spent many wonderful hours with his grandchildren. He loved them, played with them, fed them, took them outside for walks and when they went to school, he helped them with their homework. He sat with them at the computer and gave them some of their beginning love of the electronic world.

He still loved to travel. We went to Maui and saw everything we could during our time there assuming we wouldn’t be back. We went to Australia and New Zealand and reminisced over and over again about the wonderful time we had together.

Don was a wonderful husband and father. His most endearing quality was his quiet patience. He always provided for us as his family and never gave us the impression that it was any sacrifice.

Jean Freeman
Don passed away at his home in Mill Creek with his family by his side. Don is
survived by:
Delores Jean Freeman – wife of 54 years
Michael Dean Freeman (Megan Robertson)
Daniel Kent Freeman (Patricia Freeman)
Steven John Freeman (Kellie Boudreau)
Bonnie Renee Skafte (Paul Skafte)

Alex Freeman (Alisha Hussain)
Corrine Freeman (Jeff Suchland)
Joshua Freeman
Zachary Freeman
Sydney Freeman
Eva Skafte
Memories of Donald Freeman – from the perspective of his children.
– Mike –
I had a job after school at the officer’s club. I was working New Year’s Eve. At midnight, the manager gave each of us a piccolo of Champaign, and time to drink it. It seems that there was a woman that enjoyed buying me beer. I made it to the end of my shift, (just barely) and dad showed up to give me a ride home. To put it bluntly, I was pretty drunk. We got to the house, and mom was on the balcony waiting for us. Dad told me to go straight to bed, and he would tell mom that I was really, really tired after the long night. Soon after I tucked myself in, I found my stomach to be upset. Mom was upstairs, and luckily, I had a downstairs bathroom. Dad found me unconscious, leaning against the toilet, in the wee hours of the morning. He walked me back down the hall to my room, and tucked me back into bed. An hour or so later, he found me on the floor of the bathroom again. Once more, he walked me back down the hall, and saw me safely back to bed. He never, ever mentioned the incident
to me at any later time. I guess he figured it wouldn’t help. If I didn’t learn from that experience, he couldn’t say anything to change it. He just did what he always did. He saw a need, and simply took care of it. No fanfare. No fuss.

– Dan –
My dad had an adventuresome soul. He didn’t seem to think twice about big adventures like driving across the country to a class, or packing up the family for a cross-country and cross-Atlantic move to a new home in a foreign country. He was the first to explore the trains in our new city to navigate to and from work and he filled our lives with travel to new and interesting places. As a result of his spirit, we have all had fuller lives.
My dad was supportive but persistent. When on a 50-mile hike with the boy scouts when I was 11 years old, we were bringing up the rear of the group, and were quite a ways behind the other scouts when we encountered a river with a fallen log as the bridge. I was scared to death to cross. After failing to cajole me across, he went across first with his backpack and then returned to cross again with my backpack. Finally, he encouraged me with each step as I crawled across the tree on all fours. Later on that same hike I remember sitting next to him on the bank of a stream seeing who could keep their feet submerged the longest in the ice-cold water.  My dad was our safety net. His love for my mom and the rest of us, combined with his selfless patience provided a safe environment where we could learn and grow.  We often took for granted the hours he would stay late at work in order to give us a ride home from school activities or scouts. Trips to the school plays, sporting events, appointments and concerts were a given. He and mom always welcomed our friends and some to the point of becoming family themselves. When college called and the house began to seem empty, they brought in “new kids” in David and Jessica who needed a home and support. They continued that practice, welcoming grandchildren of all ages to share their lives.  My dad was a provider. He worked hard to anticipate what would make us happy in addition to what we needed. Whether it was bundles of comic books from the second hand store, bags of pistachios from his trips to Turkey or warm Brochen from the bakery down the street, he would always find a way to provide something for the family. He helped out with school as much as he could, which got harder as we got older. I recall my senior year, he would try to re-learn calculus when I asked for
help, which ended up taking longer than figuring it out myself and he sent me off to college with his college chemistry text books, which were old enough that some of the elements on the periodic table had not yet been discovered. Regardless of the challenge, he pitched in to help as best he could.

– Steve –
“All my life Dad was a quiet hero. No matter what I needed, he was there with nearly infinite patience, teaching me how to bait a fishhook, how to use a pocketknife or how to collect coins. With the hindsight of having my own children, I look back and marvel at his calm ways. As a small child, when I had migraine headaches, he would hold me on his lap in a dark room and sing “I’ve been working on the railroad” to me for hours on end.As I got older he was always “present” whenever I needed him. Throughout my time in Boy Scouts, he drove me to every meeting and outing, even if it meant he sat in the car reading his book until I was done. He went on camp outs when an adult was needed, but never felt the need to take over. He always had time for the most boring music recital, school event or just to talk. It was so important to him that I was able
to be successful, he never made a fuss over how much of his time it took, whether it was convenient for him, or if he had other plans. To me, it seems he measured his life to the pace of my own. On Volksmarches, he would walk a little slower or a little faster so that his legs moved at the same speed as my own, even as my legs grew over the years. He taught me to drive with nerves of steel, calmly correcting me until I could make it home with hardly a cringe. I remember when “The Lord of the Rings” movie came out in 1979; it was only playing in one American theater, an hour away. He drove just the two of us to see it and listened to me talk about how the books were the most important literature ever. We sat through the whole horrid film with me, and then told me that my imagination was better than the movie. His love and support for me helped create an emotional home for me wherever we went.Working my first job, after school at the Corps of Engineers, Dad taught me that
even when you disagree or have a conflict with other people, every person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. We talked about that over and over as I drove us home from work. No problem is worth behaving badly, whether you think other people deserve it or not. In my office, in San Francisco, I had a large sign that declares, “Treat every person with dignity and respect”, and the president of our company now quotes that in meetings. Each time he does, I think “Thank you Dad”.When I moved away from home and on to college, his quiet, patient love never
wavered. Like every kid growing up, I subconsciously tried to find ways to irritate and alienate, and Dad always found new ways to be patient and supportive. Nothing I did was enough to push him away. From getting my ear pierced, changing my college major from Architecture to History, almost dropping out of school, getting married and having a kid before graduation, and later getting laid off from jobs – Dad was always there to help me get back on track. He was not the kind of person to take problems away and fix them; he was the man who would sit next to you and
talk you through how to fix them for yourself. Pine Wood Derbies, College Graduation, Life.  The older I get, and the more of life I see, the more Dad is the scale on which I measure myself. He is my role model and he is my “hero.”

– Bonnie –
There are so many examples of Dad’s strengths, which we have spoken about a lot in the past couple of weeks, but the clearest display of his character showed in his last two months of his life. He never complained. His patience was overwhelming. When I was young, he would sit with me for hours, helping me get through my homework. He never pointed out my weaknesses, but taught me how to figure out the best approach to get my work done as best I could. He treated my brothers and I equally; never favoring and always fair. Dad taught us each to drive his car, a stick shift of all things! Being the fourth in line to learn, you’d think he would have passed on that opportunity. He had a favorite incline to
take us on and make us stop and have to get moving without stalling the car. If that isn’t patience, I’m not sure what is. I was lucky to have been able to spend some time with him over the last couple of weeks. At almost 83 years of age, he had not changed his easy going nature, his sense of humor, or his kindness to just listen. Dad supported us all with his constant patience, his encouraging support and his care for his family. I hope I can be more like my father, to be more genuine and kind, to show an inner strength and a quiet sense of humor. I am so proud that he was in my life and I can honestly say that I liked him as well as loved him very much
In summary, our father was a very special person. His quiet, unassuming manner sometimes masked the passion he had for his family. I am sure that our accomplishments meant as much to him as they did to us. We will miss him very much. We would not be where we are today without his love and support.

Donald Lloyd Freeman will be interred in a niche at the Tahoma National Cemetery to honor his military service.

One Response to “Donald Lloyd Freeman”

  • coney says:

    We are sorry for the loss. Mr. Freeman was well reported on. May the memories you have of in remain.

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