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Dr. Hans Freistadt


1925 - 2015 Obituary Condolences
Dr.  Hans Freistadt Obituary
DR. HANS FREISTADT Hans Freistadt, Ph.D, M.D., who delivered thousands of babies in more than 35 years as a dedicated obstetrician/ gynecologist, died Sunday in Oroville at age 89. He was known for working long hours, often late into the night, serving patients who became devoted to him over many years. He had retired at age 86, when forced to by failing health. His devotion to women's reproductive rights in his obstetrical work closely followed his champion-ing of the underdog in an earlier career as a physicist, political activist and civil rights worker. Dr. Freistadt arrived in the United States, a refugee from Nazi persecution, at age 15, after his mother was killed in June 1940, a casualty of the only German bombing raid on Paris during World War II. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1925, son of journalist Bruno Frei (Benedict Freistadt) and school-teacher Maria Muellauer, he was educated in Paris, where the family had fled from the Nazis. As the Germans invaded France in 1940, the family fled to the south of France. Their voyage from Marseille to Martinique was disrupted when their ship was commandeered by the Dutch Free Navy, and the passengers were con-fined in a prisoner of war camp on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Hans and his sister, Lisa, were placed in Chicago, Illinois, by a refugee organization. Their father, Bruno, spent the war in Mexico City. Lisa later joined their father in Mexico, and Hans remained in the United States, putting himself through high school and the University of Chicago with the aid of Jewish refugee organizations. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1944 while serving in the Army at Fort McClellan, Alabama, re-educating German prisoners of war. After his Army service, he earned a doctorate in physics from the University of North Carolina. In 1949, his left-wing political views coupled with a prestigious U.S. Atomic Energy Commis-sion fellowship brought him to the attention of McCarthyist Red-baiters in Congress. He testified before the Congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, avowing his Socialist convictions. It was a weeks-long front-page sensation in the New York Times, and he was stripped of his fellowship. Unable to get work in nuclear physics, he enrolled in medical school at the University of British Columbia at age 30. He began a second career in medicine, first as a family physician. He moved to Oroville at the invitation of the late Dr. James Demetry, after completing an obstetrics and gynecology resi-dency at San Joaquin County Hospital in 1975. Dr. Freistadt loved classical music, particularly Mozart. He worked for many years in Colorado, spending weekends back-packing in the high Rockies and imparting his love of high-altitude hiking to his children. He was a pacifist and a life-long vegetarian, refusing to eat meat starting when he was about 6 years old. An avid photo-grapher, he won several awards in the Butte County Fair. Dr. Freistadt was married twice, first to the mathematician Rebekka Struik, currently of Boulder, Colorado. After moving to Oroville, he married Sherry Adams Dwyer, captivated by her devotion to her work as a neonatal nurse at Oroville Hospital. He is survived by Sherry, of Oroville; a sister, Lisa Lang, of Vienna, Austria (Franz Lang); five children, Marion, of New Orleans; Margo, of San Francisco (Lynn Ludlow); lulu Fries'dat, of Brooklyn, N.Y. (Joseph Illidge); Benny of San Bruno (Ashly Davis); and Delisa, of Chico (Betty Burns); a step-daughter, Jamie Brand, of Hoquiam, Wash. (Joseph Brand); and two grandchildren, Kenny Ludlow and Shafir Wittenberg. A celebration of Dr. Freistadt's life will be held at the Southside Oroville Community Center, 2959 Lower Wyandotte Rd., on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 1 p.m.
Published in Chico Enterprise-Record from Feb. 4 to Feb. 5, 2015
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