John D. Freeman Jr., 83, of Concord, MA, passed away on October 20, 2023.
John was born on May 17, 1940, to Laura Beach Freeman and John Doane Freeman, Sr. John and his younger brother Geoff grew up in Dover, MA where John plied the fields and woods with his beloved dog, Tony, an English setter, both in search of a good squirrel. His teens were spent at Rivers School and Tabor Academy where he rowed crew, ran cross-country, and developed his life-long love of sailing.
John set off for travel and adventure shortly after graduating from Cornell University (majoring in Economics and Philosophy) when he embarked on a 3-week journey aboard a freight ship headed for Australia. Once on firm soil in Perth , he learned a trade as a pipe fitter, welding and installing pipe systems. He took odd jobs as a line cook in a mining camp (“Chief Potato Peeler”) and as a salesman at an art gallery. Still searching for something new, he set sail for southern India where he spent the next two years winding his way up the Asian continent on his motorcycle and eventually through Europe. It was in Czechoslovakia where he famously set up camp in a field only to wake up in the morning surrounded by a flock of curious sheep being herded through the countryside.
John returned to the US in the mid-60s where he met his wife, Joan MacKillop at a Harvard Square pub, Cronin’s, where she was waitressing. She was impressed with his motorcycle and also shared his love for travel.
After their wedding, John and Joan moved to Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro where John continued his career as an investment banker with the Bank of Boston. They loved the beaches, mountains, their horses, rescue cats, and – soon thereafter –newborn daughter, Nina. John joined a running group in Rio, the Hash House Harriers, which lead to a fifty year passion for running, 8 completed marathons (including a PR in the Boston Marathon of 2:52:08, 199th place out of 1,774 runners), and a life-long commitment to the Concord Runners group.
After seven years in Brazil, it was on to Costa Rica where their daughter Stephanie was born. In the late 70’s, the Freeman family moved back to Massachusetts and settled in Concord, which became the family’s home base. But the travel itch came back (or never left), and in 1980 John accepted a job with Arla Bank (Arab Latin American Bank) and they packed up their daughters and cats and headed to Lima, Peru.
The next decade was spent crisscrossing Lima, Kuwait, Bahrain, London, New York, and eventually back to Concord. John left investment banking to help start a private equity firm, Quabbin Capital, from which he eventually “retired”. But John never viewed himself as retired and he served on numerous boards, including Maltese Bank, FIMBank, and the Steven C. and Carmella R. Kletjian Foundation which he enjoyed advising on philanthropic investments – most notably in support of the late Dr. Paul Farmer’s Global Surgery program for which he proudly traveled to Haiti with Dr. Farmer. A cheerleader for land conservation and advocate of the Arts, John also served as a Board Member of the Concord Museum.
John and Joan were active members in the Brooksville, ME community where they spent many months of the year. In 2000, John and Joan bought a much-loved summer cottage overlooking the Bagaduce shorefront. The open fields and woods surrounding the house were the perfect excuse for John to start his impressive collection of tractors and landscaping equipment. John sailed competitively (the “Windborne”), won often, and served as chair of the Long Range Planning Committee at Bucks Harbor Yacht Club.
John’s passion for good food, business, the arts, sailing, history, and travel was inexhaustible. Whether hiking Mt. Katahdin in ME, running up Mt. Washington (“Only 1 hill!”), skiing through the Dolomites, or camping in the Grand Canyon or Patagonia, John was an enthusiastic and skilled outdoorsman who viewed any ache, pain, or age-related infirmity as something to be ignored with gusto. John loved jazz and fondly recalled meeting Dave Brubeck in Chicago, hearing Thelonious Monk in New York City, and seeing Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto in Brazil. He consumed historical novels in piles, particularly those focused on maritime wars.
John Freeman was fiercely loved by his daughters, who delighted in his pasta carbonara, Christmas Monkey Bread, “Freeman clean” dishes, resourcefulness with duct tape, methodical approach to problem solving, good advice, dry sense of humor, and, most of all, his limitless warmth, optimism and patience.
John will be missed beyond words by his wife Joan, daughters Nina and Stephanie, sons-in-law Alex Brown and Matthew Cady, brother Geoff and sister-in-law Marjie, and grandchildren Angus and Garner Cady and Maxwell and Mia Brown. And a couple of cats.
A private gathering in John’s memory is planned.
In lieu of flowers, please consider sending a donation in John’s name to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Arrangements are entrusted to Dee Funeral Home & Cremation Service of Concord. To share a remembrance or to offer a condolence in John’s online guestbook, please visit www.DeeFuneralHome.com.