Cover photo for Marilyn Freeman's Obituary
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1933 Marilyn 2024

Marilyn Freeman

May 26, 1933 — April 11, 2024

Marilyn Romieux Freeman of Amherst, County, Virginia passed away April 11, 2024 at age 90 after years long battles with a variety of medical issues.  She faced and fought them nobly.  

 Marilyn is survived by her five children: Mike (Jeannie), Steve, Jeanne, Kriss, Philip (Pam), eight grandchildren and nine great grandchildren.  She is preceded in death by her husband Dean (1995) and daughter in law Ann Freeman. (2024) 

 Marilyn was born to Harry and Georgia Hellen Romieux in Asheville, NC May 26, 1933, and she had a younger sister Jacqueline.  Marilyn quickly became Mickey when a relative believed she favored the famous mouse when Mickey wore a certain pair of fluffy bedroom slippers.  Though she was born during The Great Depression, her father was a talented businessman, and the family enjoyed a comfortable life.  Her summers brought a dose of reality when Mickey and Jackie would spend weeks with grandparents (their mother’s parents, the Rectors) on a working farm in Marshall, NC; a lifestyle she would one day embrace.  While away at St. Genevieve of the Pines College for Girls, Mickey’s roommate’s (Lucy Freeman)   brother Dean came for a visit and then another and another.  Mickey and Dean enjoyed participating in plays, playing cards and within a year they would marry.  Dean secured a job with a paper company in Greenville , SC where they bought a home and started a family - Michael was born in 1954.  An opportunity with Dillard Paper Company soon developed and the Freemans found themselves in Lynchburg, VA and over the next 5 years Steve, Jeanne and Kriss we born.

 Perhaps their home was getting small.  Could be the pace in Lynchburg was more than Mickey and Dean were accustomed.   Possibly - it was a bit of fate…  One fall day in 1963 the six Freemans went to an apple orchard in Amherst County.  In addition to getting apples, they discovered a home for rent on the apple farm.  The home was certainly big enough, there was but one other home and family (the Girlings) - as far as neighbors go  - and Mickey and Dean were amazed at the  open space for four children to run and play and discover the outdoors along with farm life.  By the end of the year Mickey and Dean planted their family on Speed-the Plough Farm and family remains there today.

 Philip was born in 1965 to round out ‘The Squad’ as they are referred to.  While Jeanne might have preferred city life -   Mickey enjoyed raising her family in the foothills of the Blue Ridge, at the base of Tobacco Row Mt.  During summers you might put all those kids together and not find one with an entire outfit.  While the farm offered Mickey’s children all the entertainment needed, Sundays after Mass at Holy Cross church or Father Judge Seminary, it was off to Isaac Walton Park for hiking, swimming, diving, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. There were no routine vacations, but one summer Mickey loaded five children (ages 5-16) in the family Volkswagen bus and for the next 6 weeks traveled the entire country, camping every night (except for staying with Jackie’s family in California), eating from a camp stove, seeing state parks and national parks, deserts, canyons, redwoods, waterfalls and so much more.  No seat belts, no car seats, there were cheap Styrofoam coolers, stale food and no one complained.   An impossible journey that - to this day - Mickey’s children use as the GOLD STANDARD for parenting, bravery and adventuresome.

 Mickey played a bit of bridge, participated in the Ladies of Charity circle at Holy Cross, was a girl scout leader, sang in the church choir, and shopped for groceries once a month and kept the household fed.    Much of her life was spent behind the wheel of a VW bus toting the children to town for school at Holy Cross where all five attended 12 years each; that’s 60 years.

 When Philip entered middle school at Holy Cross Mickey set her sights on higher education and employment.  She graduated from CVCC cum laude and was quickly employed by Babcock and Wilcox Research and Development.  Her tenure at B&W would span almost 20 years and by her warm nature many colleagues became friends. 

 It was in 1994 and Mickey was recently retired when that Dean developed Glioblastoma.  She would singlehandedly take care of her husband in their home.  It was a yearlong battle and Mickey never left Dean’s side.  Soon thereafter Mickey was ready to travel how she and Dean had planned.  There were children and grandchildren across the country (including HI) and she so wanted to be with them.  She went solo across the country on Amtrak and enjoyed the big cities and small towns along the way.  Mickey was off to Africa, South America, Prague, England, Canada, and in Italy she rented a home for a month and had her children join her.   Eventually Mickey designed and built a new home on the side of Tobacco Row Mt overlooking Speed the Plough; her view of the farm is priceless. 

 Mickey never wavered on her support of her children;    Perhaps it paid off: Mike attended the Naval Academy and was the commanding officer of numerous ships, and  - at 69 -  still captains vessels on the open sea.  Steve became a gifted musician and today at 68 plays & entertains crowds several times a month.  Jeanne enjoyed a career in Banking and Investments.  She was ever the sweetest amidst the bunch of boys and while she never had the sister she desperately wanted, her son Jake - who now has three daughters (and a son) - enables Jeanne to fulfill her dreams as a wonderful grandmother. Kriss followed in his father’s footsteps and worked for Dillard Paper (3rd generation).  Philip does it all, naval officer, salesman for Dillard Paper, entrepreneur and today he employs several family members in multiple companies.   What always brought Mickey so much amazement and joy through her entire life is the closeness of her family.  Birthdays, holidays, vacations… these times were set aside for family where everyone participates and has a seat at the chaotic table. FIVE CHILDREN & SPOUSES, EIGHT GRANDCHILDREN AND NINE GREAT GRAND CHILDREN; always sharing the love and respect of others that Mickey shared with all.

 There were other elements of Mickey that standout: few, but close friends - like her beloved Friday Ladies.  Her manners were flawless.   She was Independent, principled, fearless, frugal, polite, respectful to all, never shared a disparaging comment of another and would artfully ease a poor conversation into ‘higher ground’. Mickey enjoyed the muses -  Lynchburg’s Academy events,  Lynchburg Symphony & Opera, traveling to Abingdon to attend the Barter Theatre and any local event featuring the Steve Freeman Band.

 Mickey spent the last 16 months at Westminster Canterbury, Lynchburg.  The care and support the Westminster teams provided Mickey and all the Freemans was a gift.  After all - she was ever  self-sufficient &  stubborn and would never consider allowing others take over her care.  The Team at Westminster managed that beautifully and gracefully.

 A Mass Celebrating Marilyn Yvonne Romieux Freeman will be held at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Lynchburg on June 1, 2024 at 11:00 AM with a reception to follow in the church commons

 Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.  

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