Marion B. Freeman
Marion B. Freeman passed away on Friday, December 27, 2019. He was one month shy of his 92nd birthday. He is survived by his son Randy and his wife Denise and their three children, Taylor (Chicago, Illinois), Kendal (Madrid, Spain), and Cameron (St. Louis, Missouri); a brother and his wife, Clarence Duane and Kathleen Ruth Freeman (Laramie, Wyoming). He was preceded in death by his loving wife of 68 years, Joan Miller Freeman, who passed away earlier in the year and their daughter, Jeri Linn in 1958; his parents, Raymond Lee and Georgia Louella Freeman; two brothers and their wives, James Franklin and Betty May Freeman; Raymond Byron and Dorothy Maxine Freeman; and his sister and her husband, Wanda Lee and Elliott Lloyd Seymour.
Marion was born in Tarkio, Missouri on January 27, 1928. He grew up on a farm and rode horses to grade and junior high school. He graduated from Tarkio High School where he was a standout football, basketball and track student athlete. His senior year he finished third in the state track meet in the 880 yard dash. He graduated from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville and was on the football and track teams while earning a dual degree in industrial arts and physical education. He was a member of Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity and Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society. He began his teaching and coaching career at Chillicothe High School. Marion met the love of his life Joan in college. They were married August 2, 1950 at the First Christian Church in Burlington Junction, Missouri. They enjoyed a honeymoon to Canada and Niagara Falls.
The couple moved to Savannah, Missouri in the fall of 1951 where Joan taught music and Marion taught industrial arts and drafting and was the basketball and track coach. His teams were successful, winning track sectionals in 6 of 7 years and his basketball teams won 150 games. During this time, he completed his master’s degree from the U of Colorado – Boulder. The couple moved to St. Louis in the fall of 1958 where Joan continued to teach music and he began a long career with the Clayton School District.
He taught industrial arts, architecture, and drafting and was a track, cross country, and basketball coach. He started the cross country program in 1960 and coached in the district for many years. He was awarded a John Hay Fellowship for the 1962-63 school year and studied architecture and engineering at Yale University. Later in his career at Clayton he became Plant & Property Director for the district and led that large staff until his retirement in 1993.
One of the region’s oldest high school track meets was renamed in his honor in 1993. The 2020 meet will be the 87th annual Marion Freeman Clayton Invitational and takes place the last weekend in April each year. He was associated with that meet for 60 years and even into his 90’s, he continued to recruit, encourage and promote the student athletes that participated in the sport that he loved so much. He was a fixture at the state track and cross country meets for decades, serving in numerous positions. The track and football teams he participated on were inducted into the Northwest Missouri State University Hall of Fame. He was named to the Missouri Track Cross Country Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2001 and received the Distinguished Service Award at the 2012 Missouri state track meet. Marion was a track and field innovator and he made several recommendations to improve various elements of races and field events that the state implemented. Marion was always looking for ways to make competition better and safer for the student athletes.
Marion and Joan were members of Union Avenue Christian Church for more than 60 years. They held many leadership positions in the church and cherished their deep friendship with members of the congregation. Marion was a passionate sports fan and enjoyed cheering for the NWMSU Bearcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Missouri Tigers, thousands of local track and cross country student athletes and every team his son and granddaughters played on. Marion helped to coordinate the first and early years of the Clayton Corporate Challenge. He and Joan were long time Missouri Tiger football, St. Louis Symphony and Muny season ticket holders. They also were members of Creve Coeur Racquet Club, playing in the Friday night mixed doubles league. Marion and Joan established a scholarship fund at their alma mater, Northwest Missouri State University, to help future Bearcats receive an education.
Despite living in St. Louis for 60 years, Marion’s love of farming was lifelong. He and Joan owned a working farm in the northwest corner of the state. Marion was always thrilled to return to the farm and was eager to check on the cattle and various crops on their property. His passion for farming was constant and he continued to educate himself on the latest techniques to maximize and preserve the land and improve the yield.
He was a son, a brother, a husband, a dad, a grandfather, a teacher, a coach, a leader, a motivator, and someone who actively looked for ways to help others bring out the best in their lives. Mom and Dad were amazing parents and grandparents. They will be missed every day and their love for their family and friends will be cherished forever.
Burial will be at Ohio Cemetery in Burlington Junction, Missouri on a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the First Christian Church in Burlington Junction.