Video of Sam Freeman discussing his childhood and family, 2005 (Windows Media 1.8 MB-suitable for streaming with dial up connections)
Ö.born and raised in New York City by Barnett and Rose Friedman.
After graduating from William Howard Taft High School, he served in the U.S. Army in World War II in France, Germany, the Philippines and in occupied Japan in the signal corps. After the war he studied business administration at Syracuse University, graduating in 1949. He found his first job working for the State of New York as a Civil Service personnel examiner. It was here that he first met Mary Holland and was captivated by her beauty.
They married on Labor Day, 1951, the same day as Martha and Fred Schroeder. After they met and discovered this coincidence here in our congregation, they regularly celebrated their anniversaries together.
With a stable job and a loving wife, Sam set about building his own house. If he had realized just how hard this would be, he later questioned whether he would have started the project. But Sam wasnít one to give up on anything he started. He always continued what he started through to the end. This amazed his father in law who couldnít believe someone with a degree in business administration could serve as a contractor for his own house as well.
While he completed the house and the family moved in, I suspect it was never completely done. He refinished the basement and put a cement block patio around their pool, carefully working out the gradient so water would drain correctly.
Sam was always a do it yourselfer. His sons remember him making toys for them to play with in his wood shop. He was always building something or making changes to the house. But he wasnít all work. He loved to lounge by the pool too.
Samís creative impulse grew into cooking with the help of Julia Childís training. He liked to make breakfast on the weekend.† Waffles, pancakes, Souffles on special occasions. But baking French bread was a special joy for him, much to the delight of his family and friends.
Iím not sure if his interest in cooking was part of it or not, but a good time to get a sample of his cooking was at one of the many spontaneous parties Sam and Mary threw at their home in Slingerlands. All the people I talked to this week remember them fondly. Since Sam wasnít comfortable with public displays of affection, he channeled his love through making and baking things for people.
Sam and Mary joined our congregation in 1967 during those activist years our congregation fought the $5 vote and advocated for civil rights and womenís rights. They both served on our Board, with Mary as President and Sam on several committees, though Sam never liked going to meetings. He preferred to join Al Weissbard and Fred Shroeder in our kitchen to make breakfast or dinner. In the 1970ís our congregation had a program called extended families. Sam and Mary were part of one extended family that continues to this day. Many members of the family have died or moved away so theyíve adopted new people into that family. I think they still get together once a year.
Even though Sam didnít like meetings, he served as president of the Public Personnel Association and was a board member of the Albany Memorial Society, Schuyler Mansion, the Home Aide Services of NY, Nursing Services of the Capital Region, the Torch Club and the Slingerlands Community Players. More than attending meetings for Community Players, Sam enjoyed doing the lighting for their shows.
During his work for New York State, Sam was a conscientious worker rising to the level of director of Employee Health Insurance. His proudest accomplishments during his career were implementing employee health insurance program for all state workers and establishing a procedure to get a second opinion to prevent unnecessary surgery.
Even though he excelled in his career with the State, it wasnít his passion. He was happy to take early retirement, even though he continued to work as a consultant in the field of insurance and finance. If Sam was ever reborn, it was as a retiree.
Retirement allowed him to follow his love of learning. Sam audited classes at SUNY that filled in what he didnít get in college studying Business Administration. Retirement allowed him the leisure to study history, art, music, drama expanding his appreciation of them.
Retirement also allowed Sam and Mary to travel. They took full advantage of the opportunity taking many trips around the world. Sam loved traveling so much he served as a tour guide with Hart Tours of Delmar. Before a trip to a non-English speaking country, Sam would try to pick up some of the language. His experience growing up in a family that spoke Yiddish and Polish probably amplified his capacity to do this. Two trips they took stand out for Mary, a trip to China and a trip to Venice with Bob Blank and Arlene Gilbert.
But their wanderlust didnít diminish their enjoyment of being home. When he tired of remodeling, Sam took up vegetable gardening. It wouldnít be an uncommon sight to see Mary tending her flowers and Sam tending different varieties of lettuce he liked to grow. Another favorite activity they enjoyed together was square dancing.
Sam was no Luddite. A life long aficionado of classical music, he wired their home to provide speakers in every room and outside for the patio. Fred Schroeder gave him his old computer when he upgraded to a new one. In a month, Sam had mastered it particularly enjoying doing email with people. Email gave him a new outlet for his liberal politics. He regularly wrote letters to the editor getting his first ones published in the 50ís making fun of Joseph McCarthy.
Sam had a gentle, compassionate side too. He volunteered for a number of years at the Hospice Inn at St. Peter's. He moved his sister up here and took care of her as she was dying. Sam was a faithful visitor of an elder of our congregation, now deceased, Mildred Guffin.
These are the words Sam asked be read at his memorial service:
Thank you all for coming today. You are the important people in my life. I found it hard to express my affection for you but I hope you guessed my warm feelings toward you. I enjoyed my life and each of you helped me enjoy it. It was a good life and better because of your friendship. Take a flower when you go. You will find them on tables near the doors. Think of me sometimes when you see the flower and only while it lasts. After that I hope your lives are so filled with joy and all manner of happy things that you wonít have time to think of anything else.
Excerpted from Eulogy by Sam Trumbore
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