George Edward “Ned” Freeman

Posted:  Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - 8:30am

Ned Freeman died Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, from a head injury sustained during a fall the day before.

He was born February 20, 1923, in Riverdale, N.Y., the son of Dorothy Perkins Freeman and Edward W. Freeman.

He attended the Riverdale Country School and the Fresnal Ranch School in Arizona. He graduated from Phillips Academy at Andover and received a degree in engineering from Yale University as a member of the class of 1948W. At Yale, he was on the championship swimming team and performed in the legendary 1945 production in the Yale swimming pool of Aristophanes’ “The Frogs.”

His Yale studies were interrupted temporarily by World War II. As a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, he served as an officer for a “Jim Crow” regiment, building roads and bridges, working in England, France and Guam. He was on his way to swim in the Army Olympics when the plane carrying the team went down in the Pacific. Although he survived, he had chemical burns and was sent to Hawaii to recuperate and thus was in Pearl Harbor on VJ day.

As a young man, he was a counselor and sailing instructor at Pine Island Camp in Maine’s Belgrade Lakes region. For several years, he oversaw the ocean voyage for campers on the camp owners’ sailing ship. He also crewed on his parents’ schooner, Blue Goose, in the Monhegan Race. After graduating from Yale in the post-war class, he held managerial positions at the Ralph C. Coxhead Corporation in Newark, N.J., and Minneapolis-Honeywell in Philadelphia, Pa.

He was a long-time resident of Bucks County, Pa., and was a county commissioner and a member of the Bucks County Council on the Arts. He served as deputy secretary of community affairs for the state of Pennsylvania, implementing projects throughout the state.

To ease the commute to Harrisburg from Bucks County, he earned his pilot’s license and enjoyed flying the plane he co-owned with Pennsylvania State Representative Jack Renninger.

In the 1960s, as owner of Red Lion Garages in Norristown, Pa., he became one of the nation’s first Volkswagen dealers. He was also a successful real-estate investor in Bucks County.

From the time he was born, Ned was a summer resident of Damariscotta, and as a young man helped out on the Round Top dairy farm his father had founded early in the 20th century.  Ned later built a summer cottage at Dodge Point in Newcastle, adjacent to the tree farm owned by his family.

He married Natalie Ann Morrison of Merion, Pa., in 1946. The couple had three children, and the marriage ended in divorce in 1971.

In 1984, he married Barbara Hill Shenkle. In 1991, the couple moved to Maine year-round from Buckingham, Pa. In Maine he became a tutor for the Literacy Volunteers of America. He also volunteered at the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library’s used-book store.  He was a volunteer docent at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and an enthusiastic ambassador for the Gardens.

He shared his life-long love of traditional jazz as a volunteer DJ for WBOR through the Maine Jazz Alliance. He was the founder of the Lincoln Arts Festival’s annual Jazz Weekend and, as a member of the Ark Angels jazz band, played rhythm guitar for many years in the popular annual Jazz Sunday church service at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor and other events.  Prior to moving to Maine, he played in the Newtown Mudcats and Sideliners big band in Pennsylvania. In Maine, he was a member of the Sheepscot Valley Chorus for several years and sang bass in the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor’s choir for nearly two decades.

He was an excellent tennis player before moving to Maine and always enjoyed watching Grand-Slam matches. He loved dogs and is missed by his rescued Labrador-Chessie mix, Tootsie Roll.

In 2008, he and Barbara became snowbirds, migrating each fall to Sanibel Island in Florida, where they had been married in 1984. There, he sang in the Sanibel Congregational Church choir and was an avid birdwatcher, alligator watcher and gardener.

He is survived by Barbara Freeman, his wife of 28 years; daughter, Gail Burke of Wiscasset and Seattle, and twin sons, George Freeman of Newcastle and Guru Sangat Singh Khalsa of Great Falls, Va., and their families that include eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren; brother John Freeman of Riverdale, N.Y.; step-children of 28 years, Zachary Shenkle of Media, Pa. and Abigail Allison of Chicago, Ill.; and two step-grandsons.  

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor and Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

A memorial service and reception will be held at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Congregational Church of Boothbay Harbor.