E.C. Freeman, 97, of Dumas, died March 1, 2019.
He was born at Tyro, Arkansas in 1921 to James E. and Emma Caroline Freeman.
When he was five years old, his family moved to Dumas and he has been a resident and participating citizen ever since. While still in the Tyro area he was bitten by a “ground rattlesnake” and treated with kerosene signaling that it was going to take more than a poisonous snake to take him out.
He was married to the love of his life, Phyllis Van Winkle Freeman, for 70 years and 6 months. She died in July of 2014. They met on a blind date in the fall of 1942 and married about five months later.
He was a WWII veteran and a near perfect representative of the Greatest Generation. His service to the country started when he was a freshman at Arkansas Tech. He had received a scholarship to play basketball but needed the $1 per drill that he received from joining the National Guard. When the guard was mobilized in early 1941 he was trained and sent to the Aleutian Islands in the Alaskan territory. That was his first tour over seas. While there he was offered a test to qualify for Officer Cadet School. He asked where the training would be and they told him Santa Ana, CA. Thinking about the Alaskan cold, he replied, “Sign me up.”
He graduated as a Second Lieutenant and moved on to Bombardier school. After marrying Phyllis, he was shipped out to the South Pacific. He flew 44 combat missions and was awarded the Air Medal and a Presidential Unit Citation for the longest combat flight for a B24 bomber.
He came home to Dumas to build a life and family. He started with a small country grocery store and eventually built a thriving furniture and appliance business that served several counties for over 42 years. His business innovation showed when he once traded a television for a tractor. His store became the meeting place for golfers, local politicians, farmers, and other assorted friends. Great friendships flowed from that coffee klatch.
He and Phyllis had three children, Mickey (Pat), Carell (Linda) and Jeanie (Rick) Shearouse. The clan grew to nine grandchildren, Emily Penfield, David Freeman, Shelbie Shave, Josh Shearouse, Sage Shearouse, Caroline Ellixson, Kelly Tribell, Todd Perry, and Amy Beaty; 14 great grandchildren, Lauren, Emma T, Hayes, Caroline, Eliza, Emily, Destiny, Emma V, Hannah, Emery, Levi, Steele, Creed, and Isaac.
He gave back to the community by serving local organizations such as the United Methodist Church, Dumas Chamber of Commerce, the Desha County Hospital board, Optimist Club, Lyons Club, Walnut Lake Country Club, and the Housing Authority of Dumas.
He was preceded in death by all of his siblings, sister, Ina Freeman Christman and brothers, Alvie, Forrest, Havis, Gilma, and Dewey.
Story telling was one of his talents along with an incredible knowledge of families and their connections with other families in Southeast Arkansas. He was an avid golfer for over 60 years and made lasting friendships with the couples he and Phyllis met over the years of matches and tournaments. All golfers dream of making a hole-in-one. EC made three on three different holes; the last one when he was 83.
We will all miss the ready smile, optimistic outlook, whistling and humming that was always there.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday, March 5 at 1 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Dumas. A funeral service will follow at 2 p.m. with Dr. Tandy Hanson, Rev. Rick Shearouse, Rev. Emily Freeman Penfield and Rev. David Freeman officiating. Burial will be at Walnut Lake Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 230 Court St., Dumas, AR 71639 or Delta Memorial Hospital and Clinic, 811 Hwy 65 S., Dumas, AR 71639.
Arrangements by Griffin Funeral Home of Dumas.