Bessie Freeman LaBudde
Bessie LaBudde, 80, passed away in her sleep on July 8, 2014 in Boise, Idaho.
Born in Horse Shoe, N.C. to Ethel and Charles Freeman of Cherokee, English and Scottish descent, she grew up in modest circumstances in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. An insatiable learner, Bessie worked her way through the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she made the dean's list and graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in Biology in 1953. She then entered the University of Wisconsin in Madison where she worked as a research biologist while pursuing graduate studies in botany. She obtained her master's degree and married John A. LaBudde in 1955.
Bessie gave birth to Samuel Freeman in 1956 and subsequently deferred pursuit of further graduate studies to focus on parenting and allow John to complete his doctoral degree in biochemistry. Benjamin Arthur was born in 1958 and, following John's award of a doctorate and acceptance of a research position with the Mead Johnson pharmaceutical company, the family moved to Evansville, Ind.
Indiana remained home for the next 40 years and saw the arrival of Sarah Michele in 1962 and Nathan Winden in 1964. Bessie began working as outreach and health coordinator for the local PBS station in 1973, and served concurrently as the education director of the Evansville Alcohol Medical Education Program. In 1976 she joined the University of Evansville where she served as Director of External Studies, summer sessions coordinator and industry outreach coordinator until 1984. During this time Bessie received a B.S. in Psychology in 1981 and an M.S. in Counseling in 1986 from the University of Evansville.
In 1984 Bessie moved to Ivy Tech Vocational College as lead counselor for displaced worker retraining before leaving in 1993 to begin her own business, Testing and Career Services. She continued her long history of volunteer work with the Friends of Angel Mounds and the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Sciences where she served as a grant/educational material writer, guide and outreach coordinator before ultimately joining the board of directors for both institutions.
Having separated from her husband, Bessie retired in 2002 and moved to Boise to spend time with her daughter and grandchildren. She quickly became involved in volunteer service with the Boise Art Museum and began attending the local Unitarian church following her long involvement with the Unitarian community in Evansville. She made many great friends among her fellow museum docents and within the church. She was very grateful that so many found time to repeatedly call and visit her during the time leading up to her death, a passing that was eased greatly thanks to the exceptional compassion and competency of the St. Luke's Hospital nursing staff.
Ever a fan of wildflowers and wildlife, Bessie's days shared with friends and with her grandchildren walking along the Boise River were among the happiest of her life. Her love of art, history, gardening and public service found welcome reception with friends and neighbors, and stands as a testament to their character and that of the community. Bessie felt that she had found a place where others give as freely and fully of themselves as she had always aspired to herself.
Bessie is survived by her three sons, Benjamin, Nathan and Samuel; her daughter, Sarah Stine (Scott); and three grandchildren, Ethan, Emma and Peter Stine. She is also survived by her younger brother, Charles (Bo), who lives with his wife, Ann, and their two sons, Charles Jr. (Cindy) and Daniel (Melissa) in Montgomery, Ala.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, September 6, 2014, at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Evansville, 2910 East Morgan Avenue. All are welcome. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations of time and/or resources be made to organizations engaged in public or environmental service.
Published in Courier Press on Sept. 3, 2014