William Henry Freeman
April 11, 1932 – January 13, 2021
William Henry Freeman, 88, of Newburgh, previously of Owensboro, Ky., and Evansville, passed away peacefully at home on January 13, 2021.
Mr. Freeman was born April 11, 1932, to William A. and Mary F. (Bassett) Freeman, at their Independence Avenue home in Owensboro. He graduated from Owensboro Senior High School in 1950. He married his sweetheart, Ruby Jeanette Husk, on April 21, 1952. They initially met in the first grade, but his family moved after that year and he attended another school until they met again in junior high band when he played trombone and she played clarinet. They later attended Owensboro Senior High together for two years before she transferred to the county high school for junior and senior years. He went on to attend Western Kentucky State Teachers College before entering the United States Air Force on January 5, 1951. He began writing letters to Ruby, she wrote back, and after some hesitancy on her part, they started dating and fell in love. During his service, he served as an electronics and radio instructor. He felt fortunate that he was able to stay close to home, based at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, and easily found ways to make trips home to see Ruby and his nearby family and friends. He achieved the rank Airman-First Class, receiving the Good Conduct Medal and National Defense Service Medal. He was honorably discharged January 5, 1955.
Upon returning home to Owensboro, he was briefly employed by the General Electric company, before becoming a field engineer with International Business Machines (IBM) working out of their local office and making calls working on computers and learning about technology as it constantly changed. The family had the opportunity for some extended trips to Minnesota and New York due to his work, which was full of some interesting times, but they were happy to come home. He was fascinated how computers have changed over time from being the size of a bedroom to fitting in his pocket as a smartphone that now has more memory than any of those large machines of the past.
He and Ruby welcomed a daughter, Suzanne, on February 15, 1959. They moved to Evansville in 1960 and resided there until moving to Newburgh and building a new home in 1972. He retired from IBM in 1989 after the birth of their grandson, Jake. They remained in Newburgh for the remainder of his life but kept up with Evansville, being just next door, and frequently, sometimes weekly until recent years, visiting family in Owensboro. He enjoyed the time he and Ruby got to spend with their daughter and also babysitting their grandson as he grew up. They spent a lot of time traveling often to Owensboro, caring for her parents and aunt, and his mother.
Until recent years, his many interests included Kentucky Wildcats basketball, which everyone knows is best enjoyed by muting the telecast and listening to the radio broadcast. Additionally, he liked keeping up with current events by spending multiple hours watching CNN and reading the newspaper, including Peanuts and Close to Home on the comics page. He also kept tinkering with technology after retirement. From fixing the sewing machine to sharpening scissors (correctly, because his father was a barber, and he knew scissors should be sharp), he never got bored. He bought his first home computer in 2001 and discovered how to keep up with IBM retirees through internet groups. Of course, he also experienced the adventures of testing out his farming skills with the once-popular Farmville application, but was glad to reconnect with old friends and keep up with current friends through Facebook, especially trading photos studying Freeman, Bassett, and Husk genealogy.
An avid reader, Mr. Freeman kept hundreds of mystery novels accessible on his Kindle and Nook, as well as in print. (His grandson, a librarian, will be cataloging these books for a long time.) He was happy to pass on his love of reading to his daughter and grandson. His love of older music was evident, as well as old radio shows. He appreciated pipe organ music, southern gospel, and big band tunes, as well as anything classic country or anything instrumental. His experience playing the trombone led him to investigate other instruments, including the banjo. His grandson picked up the trombone and played it proudly in honor of his grandfather in middle and high school.
As of late, especially while spending more time at home, he enjoyed a good crime drama or outdoor adventure on television, especially Chicago P.D., Blue Bloods, Life Below Zero, and even some exciting British dramas and comedies like Agatha Raisin and Doc Martin. A soft spot for animals, he also tuned in to vet programs like Dr. Jeff and Dr. Pol from time to time. He greatly enjoyed hometown foods, especially from Moonlite and Old Hickory.
He would do anything for anyone, and we will miss him forever.
He is survived by his wife of almost 69 years, Ruby; his daughter, Suzanne Freeman Kohlmeyer (and husband Tom); grandson, Jake Kohlmeyer, of Evansville; two sisters, Judy Hamilton (and husband Randy), of Owensboro, Ky., and Maudie Brawner, of Louisville, Ky.; a cousin, Brian Bassett Hunt (and wife Cathy), of Lexington, Ky.; nieces and nephews, Melissa Roberts (and husband Larry), of Owensboro; Mike Hamilton (and Sara Booker), of Whitesville, Ky.; Phil Woodard (and wife Hannah), of Greenwood, Ind.; John Freeman (and wife Melody), of Rapid City, S.D.; Sheri Brawner Webb, of Charleston, S.C.; and Thom Brawner, of Louisville, Ky.; Ruby’s cousin and close friend, Bobby J. and wife Barbara “Susie” Foster, of Berthoud, Colo., and their daughter, Michelle Sandersen, and granddaughters, Emily and Lexi Sandersen, of Loveland, Colo.
He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Robert A. Freeman; his closest aunt, Laura Jane (Bassett) Hunt (and husband Weldon); his in-laws, Estil and Myrtle (Foster) Husk; his aunt-and-uncle-in-laws, Wilbur and Elizabeth (Foster) Husk; as well as dogs, Little-Bit, Buttons, Lucy, another Lucy, and yet again, another Lucy, and finally, his late mother's dog, Ami. Ruby and family wish to thank the caring and loving staff of Heart to Heart Hospice of Evansville for their love and care over the past couple of months, especially to the hospice chaplain, Scott, and Dr. Karl Sash. They also wish to thank the neighbors of Wyntree Villas for kindness and support for many years.
In lieu of cards or flowers, we welcome contributions in Mr. Freeman’s name to organizations close to the family. In support of community learning and literacy, consider the Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Foundation, via the web at evpl.org/foundation; in support of families receiving special, end-of-life care, to Heart to Heart Hospice, at htohh.com; or to the humane society or animal rescue organization of your choice.
Arrangements are entrusted to Alexander Funeral Home in Newburgh. A graveside service for family and close friends will be held 1:00 p.m., Saturday, January 30, 2021 at Owensboro Memorial Gardens, and will be officiated by the Rev. Kevin Scott Fleming, of First Presbyterian Church of Evansville. The family asks anyone attending to wear a mask and practice social distancing. To leave condolences and share memories, Jake has set up a web form for everyone at tinyurl.com/whfreeman47630. Condolences may also be made at www.AlexanderNewburghChapel.com.
Graveside Service for Family and Close Friends
Saturday, January 30, 2021