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Mark H. Freeman

1934 - 2017 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Captain Mark H. Freeman

March 15, 1934 ~ January 26, 2017

Born in Seattle on Lake Union, Mark grew up on the docks of the family business and began his storied tugboat career at the age of 8 working for his folks O.H. "Doc" and May Freeman pumping boats and deck handing for him on anything that floated. At 13 he purchased his first tug the "Seal Rock" and began a log patrol business on Puget Sound and Lake Union. In between tows he attended B.F. Day, Hamilton Middle and Lincoln High schools and helped out at the marine supply store known as "Doc Freeman's". He found - with the teachings of his mentor, Jack McCrary - that he was a natural born captain and thoroughly enjoyed it. At 16 he purchased a bigger tug the "Jerkmore". He said, with a grin, 'with that boat I could jerk more logs off the beach'. After high school, he went on to the University of Washington for a couple of years, but nothing held his interest as much as tugs. Mark continued his tugboating career until he joined the U.S. Coast Guard in 1955. Stationed in Westport for four years, he ran motor lifeboats on the bar - before they had self-righting boats, helmets or much more than life jackets. He was extremely proud of his work as Boatswains Mate second class in the Coast Guard having been credited for directly saving 37 lives and countless vessels, earning him the Coast Guard Commendation medal.

Mark left the Coast Guard in 1959, returning to Seattle and purchasing Fremont Boat Company from his folks. He continued the huge used boat brokerage (with towing on the side) and ran the family businesses with his Mom after "Doc" passed in 1963, learning to be a tough but honest businessman with no reason to have a back door. He was a staunch believer in private property and the working waterfront who led the Lake Union Association to success stories in local and State politics. In 1967 he was 'sick and tired' of selling boats so he changed the operation into a marina and got serious with the Fremont Tugboat Company. The next few years saw him marrying Aneva "Ginger" Blake, helping to raise her children Monty and Tracy and had a son he was always so deeply proud of - Captain Erik O. Freeman. His divorce in 1976 put him on a few different paths of interest including the Retired Tugboat Association where he met life-long friends and cruising buddies. Margie entered his life around this time, first as a moorage customer, then as his bookkeeper and in 1984 he married the love of his life. They were inseparable for the rest of his life, working and having fun together daily, going back and forth to their floating home from the business; where one was, the other was close by. Lovebirds until the end.

Mark was an avid photographer, at a high point taking 5,000 photos a year - mostly of tugboats, of course. He always carried his camera - which got easier with better technology. He was the guy who always said "Stop! I have to get that picture". Boats and girls - in that order. Around 20 years ago he stopped towing commercially and sold Fremont Tugboat to Erik and his best friend, Tom Bulson. Erik having had control of a tugboat wheel from age 11 and both having learned the finer points from Mark, they are keeping up his legacy. He'd still do the odd tow job in the marina and of course ran the other businesses with Margie. However, there was a new venture: Mark Freeman's Maritime Museum! The computer became his friend, storing hundreds of thousands of photos, he ran a blog, collecting artifacts, models and building on his personal collection that is now hard to rival.

He genuinely enjoyed conversations with family, crew or friends, impromptu or with food so gathering at the round table in the office happened frequently.

He had a wonderful sense of humor with a warm smile who had a thousand sayings to fit just about any situation, but "Get the slack out of the headline" was a favorite on board or on land.

One of the delightful things about Mark was he was rarely wrong; he had a sixth sense about people and business. There was always someone coming to him for advice and he was a mentor to many. And with those he cared about he sometimes gave advice not asked for - either way, he had the knack of being right.

He was a great man, an unsung leader, teacher, author and hard worker; a unique soul who knew where his compass was pointing from an early age. With quiet perseverance, he never wavered and got to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his business, Fremont Boat. He said all you needed to do to be a success in life was to be smart and work hard, but above all else to "Be Nice". He was right about that too.

He is survived by his wife, Margie; son Erik (Heidi) and granddaughter Marina Freeman; son Monty (Karen) Freeman; daughter Tracy Carlson (John); and their mom, Aneva Freeman. Nephews Howard (Michelle) and Scott (Debbie) Stoppelman and niece Paula (Richard) Kelley; sister-in-law Ellen Coyne and everyone's extended families.

The outpouring of love and condolences by his many friends is so appreciated by his family but he didn't want any services or celebrations. He wanted us to continue to have one on one lunches or coffee with friends to keep it meaningful to him. Our suggestion would be to find your own way to "be nice" in his honor.

Fair winds, my love,

and following seas.

See ya over the next swell, Cap.

Sign Mark's on line

Guest Book at www.Legacy.com
Published in The Seattle Times on Feb. 12, 2017
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