David Ralph Freeman ’55

 The Rev. Dr. Freeman, 81, died Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, after a brief illness.

Freeman graduated from Farragut High School in Knox County, Tenn., in 1951, from Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., in 1955 and from Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Va., in 1958. In 1991, he received his Doctor of Ministry degree from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Austin, Texas. More than 40 years as an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), he served pastorates in Alabama, Virginia, Tennessee, Texas, and Mississippi, retiring as pastor emeritus of First Presbyterian Church of Greenwood in 1997.

Throughout his career, Freeman was an advocate for social change. During his tenure at First Presbyterian in Memphis, he helped to establish programs and build community among those who lived downtown and those whose jobs brought them there. Upon his departure to McAllen, Texas, the Memphis Commercial Appeal editorialized his efforts as “work to be remembered, as is the minister who did it.”

In Texas, he was the founding president of Puentes De Christo (Bridges of Christ), a border ministry, in south Texas, and he later served as a president of Habitat for Humanity in Leflore County. A mentor to many, Freeman continued to work with congregations and church members well after his retirement, serving as pastor to pastors among his colleagues in St. Andrew Presbytery and co-teaching Bible classes with his wife Mary at First Presbyterian in Oxford. He was an innovator in religious education and worship and a devoted pastor. He served with integrity and dedication, joy and compassion, challenging others in their walk of faith.

He is survived by his wife of 55 years, Mary Bevan Freeman of Oxford; their son, the Rev. James D. Freeman, and his wife, the Rev. Dr. Debra C. Freeman of Shreveport, La., and Little Rock, Ark.; two grandchildren, Lindsay James Freeman of Little Rock and William David Struan Freeman, a student in San Antonio; a brother, Robert Orr Freeman of Salisbury, N.C.; and a sister, Edith Freeman Patton of Charlotte, N.C.

Memorial contributions in Rev. Freeman’s memory may be made to First Presbyterian Church, 924 Van Buren Avenue, Oxford, MS 38655.