Tom spent his early years and many adventures on his family farm in Alabama, moving to Frostproof, FL in 1942 where he attended Frostproof High School until being drafted to serve in WWII.
He served in the U.S. Navy from October 1943 to January 1946 on the USS Abercrombie DE343 as a radar technician. Serving in the Pacific Theater, Tom’s destroyer protected the USS Missouri during the Japanese surrender. His love of art began at age 18 while in the service, spending off time sketching battleships, often used in the captain’s reports, and portraits of his crew’s loved ones back home.
After his discharge, Tom attended Florida State University, studying commercial art and advertising. While at FSU he met his lovely wife Priscilla McCaskill and they married in 1950. He holds a bachelor’s degree in art education from Florida Southern College and a master’s degrees in art education and administration from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Moving to Lake Wales in 1958, he quickly became an entrepreneur and owned several businesses, most notably Freeman’s Art and Frame Shop downtown. He was a member of Rotary International and a 60 year member of the Lake Wales Masonic Lodge #242 where he was elected Worshipful Master in 1967. Tom was also an art teacher at Lake Wales High School, Dean of Students and eventually Assistant Principal before his retirement from LWHS in the late 1980s.
Tom never truly retired as he continued to paint landscapes, murals, and portraits. His work can be seen in personal collections and in many businesses throughout Polk County, including in the halls of the Dr. H. Darel Darby building at Warner University. With his dear friend, Marcia Pennington, Tom authored a book “Tom Freeman’s Florida”, highlighting the 67 counties in Florida with his stories, poems, and artwork, as well as, completed two murals at AdventHealth Lake Wales, featuring Bok Tower and the Lake Wales Art Center.
He was preceded in death by his wife of 64 years, Priscilla McCaskill Freeman; his beloved son, Gary Malcom Freeman; his parents, Dr. Robert Freeman and Lacy Lougillah Freeman; sisters, Faye Anderson and June Freeman Beadle; and brothers-in-law, Charles Harriman, Sr. and Harold Beadle. He is survived by his sister, Roberta Freeman Harriman; his half-brother, Jack Hudson; sister-in-law, Peggy McCaskill Hardie; and his dear friend, Marcia Pennington. Tom loved his extended family of nieces, Roberta Weissman, Jody Saenz, Cynthia (“Cindy”) Polston, Teresa (“Tesci”) Chawi, Cheryl (“Sheri”) Sherman, Jacquelyn Hudson, Peggy Sue Nichols, Gail Brill, Kathy Canto; and nephews, Charles Harriman, Jr. Alan Hudson and Mike Shad; and their families.
His memorial service will be held on Friday, October 9, 2020, at 2:00pm at the First Presbyterian Church of Lake Wales. Streamed or recorded video will be available of the service.