James (Jim) LaZear Freeman

Published 3:36 pm Friday, August 20, 2010

Jim Freeman died Sunday, August 15, at his home in Tryon. He is survived by Nancy Holmes, his wife of 37 years; his children, Owen Crosby Freeman, Gloucester, Mass., and Hugh Guthrie Freeman, Mandal, Norway; his first wife, Anita Freeman, Amesbury, Mass.; his younger brothers, John Crosby Freeman, Norristown, Pa., and Peter Sunderlin Freeman, New York, N.Y.; and three grandchildren, Henry, Emma and Jeremy Freeman.

Jim was born in Evanston, Ill. on June 1, 1934 to Graydon LaVerne (Larry) Freeman, a Northwestern University professor of physiological psychology, and Ruth Sunderlin Freeman, a child educator. At the outbreak of WWII his father became a naval officer, and the family moved to New York City. This was followed by full-time residence at their summer home outside of Watkins Glen, N.Y., where Jims parents started Century House, a small Americana publishing company.

These moves established a life pattern of change as Jim transitioned often, and enthusiastically, between the big cities of Manhattan, Chicago and Boston; the towns of Evanston, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Mass., and Simsbury, Conn.; and a vacation cottage in tiny Seaside, Fla. A move to Tryon in 1991 circled him back to the pleasant village environment of his youth. Wherever Jim lived, friends remembered him for a dry and quirky wit, fresh perspective, adventurous spirit and his kindness.

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Jim received a B.A. degree in economics from Cornell University, where he was a member (and president) of Acacia fraternity, and an M.B.A. from Columbia University. He was also a graduate of Harvard Universitys Program for Management Development (PMD).

His parents business exposed Jim to the addictive sights, sounds and smells of printing and publishing and set the course for his first career working for

R. R. Donnelley & Sons, Chicago, Houghton-Mifflin, Boston, W. A. Krueger, Milwaukee and New York.

In 1972 Jim became president of Connecticut Printers in Bloomfield, Conn., the oldest printer in the country and the largest in New England at the time. When he turned 50, he established himself in a second career in finance as a Certified Financial Planner with Prudential Bache Securities, Hartford, and Raymond James & Associates, Tryon. He retired in 2004.

Jims many interests included travel, art collecting, architecture, duplicate bridge, movies, books, astronomy, and above all, music especially modern jazz. He was an accomplished trombone player who played in official community, high school and college bands. Also at Cornell, Jim helped form a 21-piece dance band, the Cayugans, and even sat in with the famous Woody Herman and Stan Kenton bands.

With my trusty trombone, I paid all my college expenses, and graduated with money saved, he said.

Years later he discovered his strong tenor voice and became a long-standing member of the Simsbury Light Opera Company in Connecticut as well as the Foothills Savoyards in Tryon.

A strong believer in community service, Jim was president of the Polk County Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the St. Lukes Hospital Foundation. He was a member of the boards of the Tryon Downtown Development Association, the Upstairs Artspace, and the Foothills Savoyards.

His knowledge of urban planning led him to get Tryon involved in the 1990s with the North Carolina Downtown Development Association, which eventually helped facilitate a streetscape design plan for the town.

Jim always enjoyed lifes party. Thus, there will be an informal gathering of Jims friends and family at the Upstairs Artspace in Tryon (49 Trade Street, 828.859.2828) on Friday, September 10, 5 to 7 p.m. Memorials may be made to Harmon Field, Tryon Downtown Development Association, and Upstairs Artspace.

Three years ago Jim wrote his memoirs, which he ended with six verbs: Smile. Ponder. Learn. Experiment. Adapt. Discover. Those who loved Jim and were loved by him will remember his smile and be glad for the times he embraced them with it