Forrest Dean Freeland, Jr.
June 25, 1923 ~ February 14, 2013
Resident of Watsonville
Forrest Dean Freeland, Jr., was born June 25, 1923, in Detroit, Michigan, and died peacefully on February 14, 2013 at De Un Amor care facility in Santa Cruz County, California. Dean was born to Forrest Dean Freeland and Frances E. Freeland (Nash). Dean is survived by his devoted wife Debra Leigh of Watsonville, CA, cherished daughter Kathleen Heidel and dearly loved grandson Ronald Rhodes of Boise, ID, and beloved stepson Keith Srikanta Barefoot of Paris, France. Dean was predeceased in 2004 by his dear son, Forrest Dean Freeland, III.
A veteran of World War II, Dean graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Training School at Quantico, Virginia, and served in the Pacific Theater of the war in the Mariana Islands and in China.
Dean's career began as a research forester in the U.S. Forest Service in the Southeastern and Rocky Mountain Regions. He earned a bachelor of science degree in forestry, and a master's degree in forest management from the University of Michigan. He also held a B.A. in philosophy from Humboldt State University, and a doctor of philosophy degree in forest soils, forest influences, and hydrology, from Michigan State University.
As a professor, Dr. Freeland taught forestry, watershed management, and hydrology at Michigan, Colorado, and Humboldt State Universities, as well as Universidad Nacional de Colombia in South America. He retired from Humboldt State University after 18 years as Chairperson of the Watershed Management Department.
Professionally, he worked as Chief Hydrologist for the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and as a systems analyst expert in the Management Advisory Services Department of Price Waterhouse & Co. After retirement, he moved to Santa Rosa and delighted in teaching in the Philosophy Department at Santa Rosa Community College. Dean lived, worked, and traveled extensively, including Europe, Africa, and many areas of the Pacific Ocean, as well as North, Central and South America.
A lifelong student of science, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, and what he reverently called "the Great Mystery," Dean studied the world's religions, as well as many aspects of ancient and modern shamanism. A faithful student of dreamwork, Dean kept a dream journal and recorded well over 1,000 dreams, typed and indexed.
He appreciated life and the opportunity to grow in consciousness, experience, love, and beauty, and to serve fellow human beings and all of nature. Dean testified in hearings supporting the creation of Redwoods National Park in northern California and was a lifetime member of Save the Redwoods League. His compassion, intelligence, optimism, depth, and interest in people made him a beloved friend and colleague.
Devoted to spiritual growth, Dean treasured spending time in nature and journeying alone in the wilderness. Many friends and acquaintances attribute Dean with helping further their appreciation of nature and deepen their connection with the Divine.
Dean had a brilliant mind and a deep understanding of many fields of study. He easily wove this knowledge together creating fascinating impromptu talks to the delight of those in his company.
Blessed with natural charm and charisma, Dean was famous for his warm "bear hug," quick wit, comforting laughter, and beautiful smile. His personality was kind, gentle, accepting, and positive. People of all ages found it easy to relate to and communicate with him.
While Dean had hoped to die alone in the wilderness, his final day was instead spent in a happy hospice memorial remembrance on Valentine's Day at his residential facility, singing, followed by a walk outside in the sun with a view of the apple orchard and redwoods on the hill. Though experiencing advanced Alzheimer's, he told a staff member after the service that he was ready to go.
While relishing life, Dean understood he would eventually die, and in 1992 drafted instructions and biographical information for an obituary and preferred memorial services. Dean did not want formal services, but wished those who knew him would celebrate his life and passing with their own traditions and beliefs. Friends and family will gather in late June at Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park near Orick, CA, in Humboldt County. (Contact Debra Leigh at email@example.com for details).
Donations in Dean's memory to Save the Redwoods League for a memorial honor tree, or to any conservation, wilderness, or nature project, would be appreciated.
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Mar. 31, 2013
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