Today marks the one-year anniversary of one of this community’s darkest moments — the fatal helicopter crash that claimed the lives of pilot Alisa Danielle Howell and developer/philanthropist Joshua M. Freeman.
It’s impossible to ignore the legacy left by Freeman in this area. The popular Bear Trap and Bayside communities were developed by Freeman, and his father was still running the company when his namesake Carl M. Freeman Communities built Sea Colony. But it wasn’t all about developments with Freeman.
His charitable donations are a major reason Lower Sussex Little League was able to land the Senior League Softball World Series, and a significant factor in that event’s ongoing success. The new edition of the South Coastal Library will feature a cultural center named after Freeman, and the state-of-the-art public safety building in Ocean View was constructed on land donated by Freeman. He regularly contributed as a major sponsor of many events held by the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce, gave to various local charitable organizations and was able to donate to several worthwhile causes through FACES grants awarded by the Freeman Foundation.
Major developments and charitable donations alone would make Freeman a man that would be remembered forever, but there was more to him than that. Freeman truly wanted his company to be fully-ingrained in this community — and that meant being involved with the community’s present and future. His land donations to the Sussex County Land Trust, as well as more than $1 million in donations to that organizations, showed that, while Freeman was a shrude and dedicated businessman, he also wanted to improve the quality of life for people in this region for years to come.
Truth be told, he was a nice man, and many of us will remember him for that fact alone, if nothing else.
“I really think he had an attachment most developers don’t have,” said Sussex County Council Member George Cole after Freeman’s passing last year. “To lose his life like that is awfully tragic. It’s a big loss for the family, the community, everything.”
As we enjoy this year’s holiday season, let’s all take a moment to remember Freeman, and his contributions to this community, and hold a thought for his family.