Newell E. Freer

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NORTHFIELD - Newell Eastman Freer, 86, died Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, at his home in Northfield. He was born in Groton on March 5, 1926, the son of Lester and Linnie (Johnson) Freer. He attended school in Groton and graduated from St. Johnsbury Academy.

He served in the United States Navy from 1943-1946. He was a "Rocketboatman" in the United States Navy during World War II. The "Rocketboatmen" were part of a small, but elite, group of soldiers who were the first to push the invasion on Omaha and Utah beaches during World War II in southern France. Newell received congressional recognition and was honored in 2011 in Patterson, N.J., for his honored service.

Mr. Freer was a career Vermont state trooper, having served from 1955 until his retirement in 1980 at the rank of sergeant. Although he served much of his time on the road out of the Middlesex barracks, Mr. Freer had been on the governor's protection team, including service as VSP driver and pilot for Gov. Phil Hoff. He was also assigned to the Vermont Statehouse security team for several years.

Following his retirement from the VSP, Newell served as police chief in Barre City for a few years, as well as acting police chief in the communities of Northfield, Hinesburg and Milton. He was a member of the Retread Motor Cycle Club and the Vermont State Police Retirees Association. He was very active in the Central Vermont Humane Society, helping facilitate the construction of one of their earlier facilities. He was a frequent volunteer at Mayo Healthcare in Northfield, Berlin Health and Rehabilitation and Montpelier Senior Citizen Center.

Newell had a great passion for music and was a talented pianist, but his true love was the tenor saxophone. He played saxophone in several brass, swing and polka bands, and it was not unusual for him to play several "gigs" each week, traveling all over New England. Most recently, he was a member of the bands Sweet Jamm, The Over 60 Band, The McClures, and he was co-founder of the Green Mountain Swing Band.

Mr. Freer had once owned and piloted his own plane. He enjoyed motorcycles, loved animals, camping with his motor home and doing carpentry. He especially loved church suppers and would travel many miles to ensure he made it back to the Chicken Pie Supper in Groton every year!

He is survived by his "adopted family," Cynthia Benway and the late Harold Dale Benway, of Bristol, and their children, Dale Benway, of Rutland, Jonathan Benway and his wife, Marlene, and their children, Jonathan and Aaron, of Bristol, Kristin Benway-Fisher and her husband, Terry, and their children, Connor and Hope, of Bomoseen; special friends Marion Goodwin, Thelma Corey, Gloria Danforth, Jean Villa; and many friends and past colleagues.

He was predeceased by his sister, Madeline Freer.

There are no calling hours. A funeral service will be conducted Saturday, Dec. 15, at 11 a.m. at the United Methodist Church in Northfield. Burial will take place in Groton later this spring. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Central Vermont Humane Society, P.O. Box 687, Montpelier, VT 05601-00687.
Published in Times Argus on Dec. 13, 2012
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