Eleanor Harris Freeman, an Akron resident since 1998, died Friday Oct. 20, 2023 of natural causes.
Eleanor was born Nov. 8, 1927 in Portage, WI to the Rev. John W. and Attabelle Harris. As a child, she lived in several towns in Wisconsin, due to her father’s ministry. She graduated from River Falls High School and always considered River Falls, WI her home town.
Eleanor graduated from Northwestern University in 1949 and taught kindergarten in Crystal Lake, Illinois for two years. She married Richard H. Freeman, her high school sweetheart, in December 1950, while he was home on leave from the Air Force. After completing her two years of teaching, Eleanor joined her husband, living at several bases, including in Colorado, Georgia, and Illinois. After her husband’s discharge, they moved to Minnesota, followed by years in Iowa, Connecticut, New Jersey (where they moved three times), Illinois, Michigan, and finally to Washington DC, where they lived for 22 years. They moved to Akron 25 years ago, to be near one set of grandchildren.
A lifelong Methodist, Eleanor was active in the United Methodist Women (UMW), wherever she lived. She was named United Methodist Woman of the Year by her local church in 2008. She was also a member of the PEO Sisterhood since 1960, belonging to Chapter P in Akron.
While her children were in school, she was always active as a room mother, taking turns with her daughters’ classes. At one time, she and her husband were co-presidents of the PTA. Eleanor also volunteered in many other capacities, including UNICEF, American Field Service, YWCA, and Girl Scouts. For several decades she was a frequent Red Cross blood and plasma donor.
Eleanor also volunteered at the VA hospital in New Jersey, Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington DC, Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland, and she spent 20 years volunteering at Summa Health System in Akron, until the age of 90.
When Eleanor and Richard’s eldest daughter was starting college, she went back to work full-time at Bloomingdale’s in New Jersey and then later in Maryland, where she worked until her retirement. Her friendly and helpful demeanor led to strong sales in any department she worked in.
Eleanor and Richard had a special relationship with his cousins in Denmark, whom they enjoyed very much. They visited them in Denmark several times, and the cousins visited them in New Jersey, DC and Akron.
Despite encroaching deafness leading to profound and eventually total hearing loss, Eleanor attended numerous musical performances with her husband. After his death, she continued as a yearly subscriber to the wonderful musical series of Tuesday Musical Association in Akron.
Eleanor was a steady, calm and reliable force. She had a sense of humor, was kind, open-hearted, independent and intelligent. She remained engaged with current events until her final illness. In her last years at Rockynol, she became a fierce Bingo player and started watching sports on her big screen TV. As our dad would say, “Who knew?”
Eleanor is survived by four deeply cherished daughters: Christine A. of Montgomery, AL, Sarah J. of Milwaukee, WI, Margaret E. Freeman-Karcewski of Middletown, MD, Laura E. Freeman-Clark of Tallmadge, OH and her sons-in-law Gordon Merna, Thomas Karcewski, and Christopher Freeman-Clark. Peter and Julia Karcewski (fiancé Joshua Kuhn), Samuel Singleton-Freeman (Colleen O’Conor), Nicholas and Natalie Freeman-Clark, Joseph and Charles Freeman-Merna are her beloved seven grandchildren. Seven nieces and nephews also survive.
Her beloved husband Richard preceded her in death (in 2008), as did her parents, infant brother James, brother Dr. John Harris, sisters Barbara Burkholder and Mary Eesley, sisters-in-law Ann and Ila Harris, brothers-in-law Everett Burkholder and Richard Eesley, and nephews John Eesley and Jeffrey Burkholder.
The family wishes to thank Eleanor’s special friends, Phyllis Thornton, and Ruth Klein, The Ohio Living-Rockynol staff and community, Ohio Living Home Care and Hospice, First Light Home Care, Summa Geriatrics, UMW, as well as her PEO Chapter P sisters for their friendship, care and support over the years.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday Nov. 8th, 6:00 PM in the chapel in Ohio Living-Rockynol. A graveside service will be held in Greenwood Cemetery in River Falls, Wisconsin, in May, officiated by her niece Rev. Jane Eesley. Memorials may be given to the First United Methodist Church of Akron for current expenses (263 E. Mill St. Akron, OH 44308) or the Ohio Living Foundation (9200 Worthington Rd. Suite 300 Westerville, OH 43082).