Legendary Football Coach Bill Freeman passes away at age 84
I would like to pay my heartfelt respects to our former mentor & HS football, basketball, & track coach Mr. Bill Freeman. Surely I’m not the only board rat here that knew & played for this man. KCTV 5 sports director Michael Coleman, who played for Bill also, & I enjoyed a nice conversation about coach last summer at Sprint before the KU Australia exhibition. He was as down to earth as any old farmer I have ever known, but even as Kevin Haskins called him - blood & guts… he still was still a tremendous motivator & colossal leader at a mere 5’9" & 180# of piss, vinegar, muscle, & moxie. As a kid who played for him almost 50 years ago I often thought it was pure meaness but a few years afterward I gained enough wisdom to distinguish the difference. And distinguished is a fine adjective to define the character of this man. Many times I saw him wax a 250# lineman upside down & then give him a blacksmith type hand to help him back up, continually repeating himself-repeating himself like a stuck record on the old Philco. Clint Bowen was one another young man who played for Bill at LHS as many of you guys have, but Bill also won state titles at Leroy & Osawatomie long before he shared an office with Bob Frederick at Lawrence High. Kevin Haskin’s copy at cjonline eulogizes Mr. Freeman far more in depth & eloquently than I possibly could so here, my friends & fellow KU junkies, is the link to Kevin’s story. http://cjonline.com/sports/2015-12-20/kevin-haskin-thoughts-turn-many-while-remembering-great-bill-freeman
Crimsonorblue22 last edited by
@globaljaybird great memories for you!
@Crimsonorblue22 Bill was tough as a rusty lug nut on an old Ford pickup.This one is from Sunday’s LJW http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2015/dec/21/freeman-stories-will-flow-today/-
Bill Freeman, 84, LeRoy, Kan., passed away Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, at the Life Care Center in Burlington.
He was born Jan. 27, 1931, in Burlington, the son of Harold and Erma Herr Freeman.
He grew up in Burlington and graduated from Burlington High School in 1949. He earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Emporia State University in 1953 where he was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon. He was a four-year football letterman at guard at Emporia State. He later earned a master’s degree from the University of Kansas.
On Aug. 22, 1954, Bill and Joan Bader were married at the First Christian Church in LeRoy. They became the parents of a son, Jeff, and a daughter, Jennifer.
Bill coached and taught physical education at Baxter Springs, LeRoy, Osawatomie, Parker Rural and Lawrence. His first state football championship came at LeRoy High School. He then won two state football championships at Osawatomie High School. He built a dynasty at Lawrence where his teams played in 10 consecutive Class 6A State Championships from 1986-1995, winning five state championships. His overall record at Lawrence was 134-38. Five of his players went on to play in the NFL. He also coached track and won two state track titles at Lawrence.
Coach Freeman was enshrined in the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2014. He was also selected to the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame in 1996 by the Jayhawk Chapter in Lawrence, was a recipient of the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame’s Pride of Kansas Award, and has been inducted into the Emporia State Hall of Fame and the Kansas State High School Activities Association Hall of Fame. He was a Shrine Bowl Coach in 1973.
Following his retirement, Bill moved back to LeRoy in 1990 where he owned 1st National Bank of LeRoy. He was very active in the LeRoy community, serving as mayor for 21 years. He was a member of the First Christian Church where he served as deacon. He was also a member of Neosho Lodge No. 27, A.F. & A.M., the Coffey County Historical Society and the Allen County Community College Endowment Association. He was a board member of CASA and in early years served in the Kansas National Guard.
Bill enjoyed all sports, history, traveling, his grandchildren and life in general. One of his greatest enjoyments was seeing his players and students become successful later in life.
Bill is survived by Joan, his wife of more than 61 years, of the home in LeRoy; his son, Jeff Freeman of LeRoy; his daughter, Jennifer Nauertc (Bob) of LeRoy; three grandchildren: Tyler, Bryson and Kaitlyn Meats; his sister, Helen Sherrick (Don) of Hutchinson; his brother-in-law, Bob Bader (Joan) of LeRoy; a niece, Debbie Mitzner; four nephews: Doug, Jon, Eric and Joe Bader; and an untold number of former students, players, and friends who were impacted in a positive way by Bill. He truly will be missed.
Cremation is planned. Memorial services were Monday, Dec. 21, at the First Christian Church in LeRoy. •Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or the SCCHS Athletic Dept. (Southern Coffey County High School) and may be sent in care of Jones Funeral Home, PO Box 277, Burlington, KS 66839.
jaybate 1.0 last edited by
Condolences to those close to Freeman. He clearly strongly influenced a lot of persons.
From my POV, he was well after my time and reading all of you folks fondly recall him made me feel kind of like a wooly mammoth thawed from a high school football glacier.
I mean, I can remember watching Al Woolard coach Lawrence, High, when Lawrence was invincible for a decade, and I was a whipper asking my dad if Shawnee Mission North, the school that I would one day attend ever be any good?
Then in my junior high and high school years Larry Taylor took over from Reese Pollard and at Shawnee Mission North and went on a tear winning ten straight state championships. We just manhandled Lawrence in those years and waited for the state championship game with a top Wichita school to test us and, of course, ten straight seasons we beat them.
Then my beloved Coach Taylor hung up the whistle and John Stauffer, my old jump coach in track took over, while Dick Purdy ran SM West to the top and former Taylor assistant John Davis ran SM South to the top. Then I heard Purdy wound up over at Lawrence and built Lawrence back into a power, and then came Freeman, or maybe I’ve got that all wrong. I had moved to the West Coast before Taylor even retired.
But the point is that I have been told that the Shawnee Mission schools are long gone and the Olathe Schools took over the mantle, but Lawrence High has kept at it over the long haul. For not being a football state, eastern Kansas has had a remarkable bunch run of exceptional high school football coaches since the late 1950s.
Can anyone tell me if anyone is on a roll these days in eastern Kansas High School Football?