Jeremiah P. Freeman

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Aug. 3, 1929 - Feb. 14, 2014
SOUTH BEND - Jeremiah P. Freeman, Ph.D., 84, of South Bend, passed away on Feb. 14, 2014, after a short illness. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1929, to Bartholomew Joseph and Agnes (Ryan) Freeman, Jerry delivered papers as a boy and was an avid Detroit Tigers fan. He also worked in his father's drug store where he developed a lifelong love of chemistry when he discovered he could order chemicals through the store's suppliers. After graduating from Detroit Catholic Central High School in 1946, he attended the University of Notre Dame where he earned his bachelor's degree in Chemistry in 1950. In 1953 he completed his doctorate degree in Organic Chemistry at the University of Illinois where he met and married his wife of 60 years, Mary (Mifflin) Freeman. In 1953, Jerry and Mary relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, when he took a position at the Redstone Arsenal Research Division of Rohm and Haas Co. He became the organic group leader there four years later. These were exciting times to be a chemist and Jerry enjoyed the work and relationships developed during his years in Huntsville. However, in 1964, he took a leave of absence when asked by Notre Dame to fill a temporary teaching vacancy. The "temporary" position led to an offer of a permanent position and a 31-year career as an Organic Chemistry professor at Notre Dame. While at Notre Dame, Jerry served as Assistant Chair and Chairman of the Chemistry Department between 1965 and 1979 and as Associate Dean of the College of Science from 1988 to 1991. Jerry was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow from 1966-1968. His greatest professional satisfaction was derived from undergraduate teaching. In 1981, he received the Faculty Award from the University of Notre Dame and the Shilts-Leonard Teaching Award from the Notre Dame College of Science in 1990. Sorin Hall awarded him its Paul Fenlon Teaching Award in 1984. He maintained relationships with many of his former students until his last days. In addition to teaching, Jerry dedicated himself to research. Although he retired from teaching in 1995 when he became Professor Emeritus, he continued to research until 2004. His publications spanned five decades. He considered the later years of his research the most satisfying due to the remarkable chemists with whom he collaborated. During his career, Jerry particularly valued the relationships he developed with his students and colleagues and academia's ability to break down barriers of politics, ethnicity and religion, allowing such relationships to develop. Jerry served as both Secretary-Treasurer and, then, Chairman, of the Organic Division of the American Chemical Society between 1969 and 1975. He served as both a Member of the Board of Directors of Organic Syntheses, Inc., and its Secretary from 1979 through 2004. Expressing its thanks for his years of service, Organic Syntheses, Inc., helped Notre Dame to endow the "Jeremiah P. Freeman Organic Syntheses Lectureship" in 2006. Jerry was an ardent scholar of history and loved to travel. He enjoyed family vacations to Revolutionary-era sites, Civil War battlefields and national parks. He particularly liked foreign travel because he could combine his love of fine dining and history. Destinations were often based upon a restaurant review he had read. No recommended restaurant was too far out of the way or unworthy of a digression from a travel route. He had a particular weakness for bakeries and was never heard to turn down dessert. As a boy, he loved sundaes and ice cream from the drug store fountain, and he enjoyed these simple pleasures to the very end. Of all his passions, it was his family that he considered his greatest joy. In addition to his wife, Jerry is survived by his six children: Thomas M. Freeman (m. Margaret Miller) of Piedmont, CA, Christopher R. Freeman (m. Sandy Neulip Freeman) of Garland, TX, John A. Freeman (m. Pamela Corson Freeman) of Reno, NV, Susan Freeman McCortney (m. Ryan McCortney) of Huntington Beach, CA, James A. Freeman of South Bend and Kathleen A. Freeman (m. James D. Childs) of San Luis Obispo, CA; seventeen grandchildren, two great-grandchildren; and seventeen nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Bartholomew and Agnes Freeman, and his sister, Mary Freeman Matthew, of Palatine, Illinois. A memorial Mass will be held at 12 p.m. March 15th at Little Flower Catholic Church in South Bend. Rev. Richard Conyers, C.S.C., will officiate. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Center for Hospice Care, 111 Sunnybrook Ct., South Bend, IN 46637.
Published in South Bend Tribune from Feb. 16 to Feb. 18, 2014
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