One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for May 9, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
As I wrote in my post yesterday today’s commencement exercises at UNC Pembroke are bittersweet. I am happy for the nearly 600 students that got their diplomas but sad because today’s ceremony is the last for many important leaders at UNCP including Chancellor Kyle Carter.
Photo of commencement on the quad at UNC Pembroke
A commencement ceremony is the highlight of the academic year on a university campus. There is so much planning and logistical work that has to be done. For an event to come off someone has to be behind the scenes making sure it all comes together. In 1983 UNC Pembroke hired a man named Larry Freeman who for 32 years has been doing a variety of things behind the scenes to make UNCP shine including today’s commencement. On June 30th Larry will retire and he will be missed and difficult if not impossible to replace.
Larry came to UNCP as a HVAC (heat and air conditioning) supervisor. He was promoted to assistant director in 1999, and in 2002 he was named director of Physical Plant by Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Neil Hawk. Larry has worked at UNCP for 5 chancellors including Paul Givens, Joe Oxendine, Allen Meadors, Charles Jenkins and Kyle Carter.
During Larry’s tenure at UNCP the campus exploded with growth especially in the last ten years. He got to witness new buildings go up on campus like Pine Hall, Oak Hall, Lumbee Hall, Cypress Hall, Health Science Building, Sampson Hall, Caton Field House, and of course Pinchbeck Facilities Building. In addition to the new construction just about every building on campus received some type of renovation from 2000 to present. The footprint of campus exploded from just over 60 acres to over 200 acres today. That increased footprint meant supervising more and more and Larry always was up to the task. A common theme to first time visitors to campus is how beautiful it is. As Director of Physical Plant Larry took it personally that our campus looked beautiful and ran smoothly.
Personally I cannot recount the number of times I had to call Larry with some type of problem during off hours in my role as Director of Athletics or Chief of Staff. Broken down bus, power failures, no hot water, vandalism, flooding, last-minute request from chancellors, making visitors feel welcomed, or needing a door unlocked. If I called Larry he was going to solve whatever the issue was.
One of his biggest contributions to me was the logistics that he helped organize for UNC Pembroke football games. I have said it to many people planning for a college football game is like no other college sport. I compare it to planning for the county fair. Larry made sure his UNCP Physical Plant team made our football team shine. With Larry you could count on hard work, attention to detail, and having a well thought out plan.
Larry is a Fairmont native and married to the former Pat Demery.
The Friend – LARRY FREEMAN
The Friend of the Friend – PAT DEMERY FREEMAN
A mom with three children who went on to soar
I do not know Larry Freeman’s wife Pat personally but have heard lot’s about her and have been amazed looking from the outside on the job she has done as a mom.
Pat attended Fairgrove High School in Fairmont, NC. Ironically Fairgrove is where my son Kyle got his first math teaching position and was there from January 2013 to June 2014. Pat attended UNC Pembroke and graduated in 1975. Pat in addition to being a mom has worked for Progress Energy and as an Insurance Agent for Woodman of the World in Fairmont, NC.
Pat presenting an award at Woodman of the World Awards Ceremony to David Musslewhite
The company model for Woodman of the World is unique. Each agency office is actually a chapter. Pat worked at Woodman of the World Eastern North Carolina Chapter 225. The Woodmen of the World chapter system is a vital part of the thousands of volunteer activities they conduct every year. Each Woodmen of the World member belongs to a local chapter. Chapter dues are used to fund the chapters’ social, community and patriotic projects as well as other costs involved with running the chapters. Chapter members elect officers to lead the chapter and elect delegates to the Jurisdictional and National Conventions. Delegates at the National Convention are responsible for electing Woodmen of the World’s Board of Directors.
Simply put, people in the Woodman chapters have fun while socializing, volunteering and providing leadership.
It is apparent to me as an outsider that the leadership lessons Pat Freeman learned in the workplace transferred over to her role as a mom. It is apparent to me that example of hard work and paying attention to details that Larry Freeman exhibited in his role at UNC Pembroke transferred over to his role as a dad.
Pat and Larry Freeman have three adult children: James, a 2002 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and commissioned officer, stationed at Pope Air Force Base; Lindsay, a 2007 U.S. Air Force Academy graduate and Brett, a 2008 U.S Air Force Academy graduate.
(l-r) Brett, James, and Lindsey all showing off their USAF Class Rings
I often hear comments about what are public schools don’t do well. I remind people look for the bright spots look for the examples that are working. The Freeman Family is an amazing testimony that the influence of parents on what type of educational experience our children receive is still important.
I think the example that Larry and Pat Freeman set is what we all should remember. Instill in your children that hard work, service to others, and doing all the little things correct will put you in a position to soar.
I was happy to report that James, Lindsey, and Brett the children of my friend Larry Freeman created a scholarship at UNC Pembroke to honor their dad. My hope is that scholarship recipient will embody all the qualities of Pat and Larry Freeman. If they do they will soar into the future just like Pat and Larry’s children.