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George Edward Freeman, 87, passionate mentor to young engineers

George Edward Freeman
George Edward Freeman

WILMINGTON — George Edward Freeman, P.E., P.L.S., 87, formerly of High Point, passed away peacefully Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, surrounded by his family, at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

Born Feb. 16, 1931, in High Point, George was the son of the late William Franklin Freeman and Vivian Elizabeth Denton Freeman of High Point. After graduating from High Point High School in 1948, he attended North Carolina State University, graduating with a B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1952, where he was a member of Sigma Pi Fraternity. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. He served as a project engineer with the Air Research and Development Command, advancing to first lieutenant, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. It was in Dayton that he met and married his devoted wife, Mary Violet Peth, and they returned to North Carolina in 1954 to begin their family and his distinguished career as a consulting engineer which included projects throughout the world with his beloved brother, Bill, and the exceptional staff and colleagues at William F. Freeman Associates in High Point.

George is survived by his devoted wife of 64 years, Mary Violet; son, Geoff Freeman (George Edward Freeman Jr.); daughters, Beth Freeman Dawson (Dan Dawson), Martha Freeman Brouse (Col. Steven Brouse, USA, Ret.); grandson, Skye King Freeman; and granddaughter, Vivian Isabella Brouse. He is also survived by his loving nephews and niece, Trey, Peter, Tom and Denton; and numerous great-nieces and great- nephews. He is also survived by his first cousins, Vail Hope Ellis, of Greensboro, Reid Kugler Solomon and Vail Kugler Hawkins, of Washington, where George spent many happy days growing up on the Pamlico River.

George was a member of St. James Parish in Wilmington, and a former lifelong member of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in High Point, where he served as a member of the vestry and as senior warden.

The professional and civic boards he has served over the past decades are numerous; however, a highlight of his service was his appointment by Governor James B. Hunt Jr., in 1997, to the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors, where he served as chairman, vice chairman and secretary of the board, and upon completion of his second term in 2007, he was named a board member emeritus for both the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and the National Council of Examiners of Engineers and Surveyors, due to his contributions of leadership and expertise during his service.

Mr. Freeman was always committed to the education and advancement in the fields of engineering and surveying and licensing requirements. He served as chairman of the North Carolina State University School of Engineering’s Advisory Council and the Governor’s Advisory Council for Information Transfer.

George joined the Professional Engineers of North Carolina in 1958, serving as president in 1965 and was a member of both the North Piedmont and the Southeastern chapters. Professional honors include being named a fellow member, life member of both Professional Engineers of North Carolina and the National Society of Professional Engineers in 2002, and a fellow member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Due to his lifelong service to his country, the State of North Carolina, his communities and to the practice of engineering and surveying, George was awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Governor Beverly Perdue in 2011, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

A licensed professional engineer and land surveyor, George’s international practice of engineering extended over 60 years. For 36 years, he was engineering principal of Wm. F. Freeman Associates, a major architect/engineer/planning/surveying firm, an experience which included a very broad planning and design practice throughout the southeastern U.S., Caribbean Basin, Central and South America, Taiwan and mainland China. In addition to federal government projects and municipal infrastructure projects, his private projects included the original master plan and development of resorts such as Bald Head Island, Beech Mountain and Sugar Mountain.

Upon moving to Wilmington in the early 1990’s, he was a principal of Century Engineering, including the presidency of CENTURY/von Oesen, continuing his career with The Rose Group, Inc., Cavanaugh and Associates and Forensic Engineering Inc.

Mr. Freeman had always been a civic leader, a supporter of the arts, and active member of his church, and through the years, he was a passionate mentor to young engineers. His civic activities included serving on the board of directors and as president of the New Hanover Chapter of the North Carolina Symphony. For over 50 years, he was an active Paul Harris Fellow Rotarian, serving as president of the High Point Rotary Club and as a member of the Wilmington Rotary Club. He was a member of both High Point and Wilmington Chambers of Commerce, a board member of the High Point Museum, Uwharrie Council, Boy Scouts of America, Guilford County Environmental Commission, and the Bald Head Island Property Owners Association, serving as president from 1982 to 1986.

George lived a full, wonderful, adventurous life full of travel and public service and instilled those values in his children. He was an avid horseman, and was a master of the Sedgefield Hunt in North Carolina. He and Violet built their beloved farm, Somerset West, on the Oak Hollow Lake in High Point where they raised thoroughbreds. He was thrilled to ride his home grown hunter, the wonderful white horse, Big Bid.

Yet another passion of George’s was his love of music and opera. He had a beautiful Baritone voice and grew up playing the piano. His was on the board of directors of both the Piedmont Opera and the Young Artist Opera Company.

George was an avid aircraft pilot, having obtained his pilot’s license in college, and flew his plane with the family to many U.S. and Virgin Island destinations. He was a curious adventurer and lived to travel. Some of his favorite journeys outside the U.S. were to Canada, Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon in Brazil (where he lived as a child), Columbia, Europe, China, Russia and Tahiti.

George’s friends and family will remember him as a Southern gentleman with a great sense of humor. He loved people, socializing, dancing with Violet and was a very kind and generous leader.

The Freeman family would like to express their sincere appreciation to George’s kind, caring and compassionate caregivers and therapists at Silverstream Health and Rehabilitation, as well as to the wonderful nurses at New Hanover Regional Medical Center.

A celebration of life service will be held at 3 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 1, at Saint James Parish, 25 South 3rd St., Wilmington, NC 28401, with the Rev. Ronald G. Abrams officiating. A visitation will follow the service. A committal service will be held at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 2, at Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, 108 W. Farriss Ave., High Point, with a visitation following the service.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations be made to St. James Parish, 25 South 3rd St., Wilmington, NC 28401; St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 108 W. Farriss Ave., High Point, NC 27262; or New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation, 2001 S. 17th St., Wilmington, NC 28401.

Share online condolences with the family at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory.

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