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Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Resources Stories & Photos
(Seattle & Northern 1890)
Covers from British Columbia to Puget sound. Counties covered:
Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan. An evolving history dedicated
to the principle of committing random acts of historical kindness

Noel V. Bourasaw, editor 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

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Kerry Freeman, 1942-2003

By Noel V. Bourasaw, Skagit River Journal
(Kerry Museum photo)
Kerry Freeman and a local hermit in front of the newly opened Skagit Hotel exhibit in the museum. Kerry was instrumental in exhibits like this and the one of the Cokedale mine.

      Sedro-Woolley has lost a great friend. Kerry Freeman passed away on July 14, 2003, at United General Hospital and the town still mourns as well as the people who Kerry led at the Sedro-Woolley Museum. From the time that the idea of the museum was born in 1991, Kerry volunteered thousands of hours to help build it into one of the finest such museums in Washington state.
      I went to Sedro-Woolley High School with Kerry and his wife, Carolyn. They graduated two years before me in 1960 and then, as now, he was known as a genuinely good guy. When I moved back here in January 1992, Kerry was one of the people who inspired the project that developed into this website. As I got to know him all over again, I learned that his father was a member of a pioneer family in Utopia, the district on the Skagit near Lyman, where I grew up.
      His father, Allen A. Freeman, attended the old Utopia school and later became the comptroller of Skagit Steel after marrying Rhoda Leander. Kerry was born in Tacoma on May 22, 1942. They lived on Warner street and Kerry soon developed his love for cars that remained one of his loves along with telephones and his family. Above all, Kerry Freeman was a family man and took a great interest in the schoolwork of his children Andy and Julie. We can hardly even imagine the sadness of his wife, Carolyn; their family was very tightly knit.
      Kerry graduated from Sedro-Woolley High School in 1960 and then earned his associate of arts degree from Skagit Valley College. I noticed in our old 1960 annual that he was one of the small squad who played golf for three years with coach Ken Driskill. He also served four years in the U.S. Air Force with posts in Pakistan and California. On March 1, 1968, Kerry married Carolyn Hill at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Sedro-Woolley.
      A year later he became a 32-year career with the telephone company that evolved into AT&T and then into Lucent Technologies by the time he retired in 2001. He was initially an installer and ended up as a senior systems technician. He worked long hours, commuting all over Washington state, usually starting his day at 4 a.m. A Lucent manager I once met told me that Kerry was one of the most important employees in their system and he was an instructor and mentor to younger employees. He knew how to communicate and lead by inspiration.
      In the early years he began collecting antique telephone equipment and over the years he built his collection to an enormous total that nearly filled their home on Talcott street. The house was built for jeweler Horace Condy in 1923 and it was fitting that the basement became a museum in itself, crammed to the gunwales with phones, antique switchboards, connecting equipment and toys, lots of toys.
      During the funeral service on July 18, fellow collector Jack Englet recalled a time when he phoned Kerry to brag about his new steam-train phone. But trying to top Kerry was a futile gesture. Kerry told Englet to wait a minute and soon produced the sound of the bells and whistles of his own fire-engine telephone.
      I was working out of town the day of the funeral and was unable to attend, but many people who did remarked about how Kerry's other pride and joy was parked at the curb by Lemley Mortuary, the stock 1964 Chevy Malibu that he obtained from his mother [see story below].
      When a small group of people met 12 years ago to discuss the possibility of organizing a Sedro-Woolley museum, Kerry and Carolyn were key members from the start. After two years of the backbreaking work of transforming the old Jech garage, the museum opened as the ugly duckling transformed into a swan. For the past three years, Kerry served as president and Carolyn as secretary, and during that time, the museum built into a respected institution with a small town represented inside and a massive collection of vehicles and antiques. They were also key members of the committee that launched Founders Days in 1994, when the descendants of Mortimer Cook visited Sedro-Woolley.
      One of Kerry's legacies will be the fine book that he and museum members produced this year. Read about the Photo History of Sedro-Woolley book and you can obtain it at the museum at the corner of Murdock and Woodworth or at historic Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop downtown. You can also read about the museum in this story that we now updating.
      Carolyn suggests that Kerry preferred memorials be given to the museum. That address is: 727 Murdock, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284.

Kerry's 1964 Chevy Malibu
      When we first started the website, we wanted to feature beautiful old cars that had been restored. Kerry insisted that we include his beautiful 1964 Chevy Malibu, which sat in his mother's garage for years and which he restored, beginning in the mid-1990s. I remember that once long ago I asked Kerry and Carolyn about when they first started courting. Carolyn recalled a time when they both attended an event that featured beautiful old cars. She laughed and said that she remembered she was sitting on the hood of an old car and she wasn't sure whether she or the car was the biggest attraction for Kerry. That is typical of Carolyn's self-deprecating sense of humor. We are certain that she had him hooked by then. Meanwhile, this is the original story we ran about Kerry's Chevy by the levy.
(Freeman's 1964 Chevy)
When we first published this feature in 2001, Kerry Freeman said: "this is my 'work in progress.'"

      Now that Sedro-Woolley Museum Board President Kerry Freeman is retired, all he seems to do is wave goodbye to his wife Carolyn as she heads off to work and then buff up his pride and joy in the garage. The car is a 1964 Malibu SS, the first one sold in Sedro-Woolley, Freeman explains. It has a 283 Hi performance V8, powerglide floor mounted transmission, all original interior, down to the floor mats. When Kerry's dad, Allen Freeman, bought it, he was the chief administrative officer at the old Skagit Steel plant. We will feature the stats on it later this week.
      This 1964 Malibu SS, the first sold in Sedro-Woolley, possibly in Skagit County, was bought by Allen and Rhoda Freeman in March of 1964 from Stan Nelson. The car was being used as a demo by Tommy Oakes, who was then sales manager for Nelson Motors. The car had been in storage for several years before the present owners Kerry and Carolyn Freeman bought it 1998. The body and all interior is showroom stock; in May of 1999 the car was restored back to marginally drivable. In August 2000 the original small block 283 was rebuild from the block up. At this time a high rise Edelbrock manifold and 600 cfm carburetor was added along with a performance cam, electronic ignition. The heads were re-worked to run unleaded gas. Approximate horsepower is around 275.

Story posted on xx and updated on May 17, 2003
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Heirloom Gardens Natural Foods at 805B Metcalf street, the original home of Oliver Hammer
Oliver Hammer Clothes Shop at 817 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 82 years
Bus Jungquist Furniture at 829 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, 36 years
Schooner Tavern/Cocktails at 621 Metcalf street in downtown Sedro-Woolley, across from Hammer Square

Peace and quiet at the Alpine RV Park, just north of Marblemount on Hwy 20
Park your RV or pitch a tent by the Skagit river, just a short driver from Winthrop or Sedro-Woolley

College Way Antique Mall, 1601 E. College Way, Mount Vernon, WA 98273, (360) 848-0807
Where you will find wonderful examples of Skagit county's past, seven days a week

DelNagro Masonry Brick, block, stone — See our work at the new Hammer Heritage Square
See our website www.4bricklayers.com
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