Joshua Mordecai Freeman, 42, died on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2006, in a helicopter crash near Dagsboro, Del. Freeman, the son of developer Carl M. and Virginia Freeman, grew up at the family home, Tusculum Farm, in Gaithersburg, Md. He was a graduate of the Landon School in Bethesda, Md., and served for three years as a Green Beret in the United States Army Special Forces.
Freeman began his career as a leasing agent and worked his way through the Carl M. Freeman Companies, learning both the business and the spirit of the organization from his father, to become the company’s president in 1992. As president and chief executive officer, Freeman led the company in carrying out its mission of building community – which he did at every point in his life.
Under his leadership, the Freeman Companies have prospered and made significant contributions to the community in both Montgomery County, Md., and in Sussex County, Del.
Projects touched by Freeman included Sea Colony, The Village at Bear Trap Dunes and Bear Trap Dunes Golf Club, The Cove, The Preserve, Bayside, Cabin John Shopping Center, Olney Village Center, The Historic Tidewater Inn and Coolfont. Companies led by Freeman included First Republic Mortgage, Seacoast Realty, Atlantic Community Title and Bethany Partners.
Known also as a philanthropist, Freeman served as chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Carl M. Freeman Foundation, which supports local arts, social service, religious and educational organizations throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Additionally, he served on the Boards of Directors for Venture Philanthropy Partners, the Washington Capitals, the Washington National Opera, the United Jewish Endowment Fund, and was a member of the Board of Directors and Capital Campaign Co-Chairman for the Landon School.
Freeman was an organizer and member of the Board of Directors of Congressional Bank; founder of Bethany Partners LLC, a private equity boutique; and an investor in Lincoln Holdings LLC (the owner of the Washington Capitals, partial owner of the Washington Wizards and owner of various sports properties including the MCI Center).
He was enrolled in the Harvard Business School Owner/President Management Program and held an honorary degree from Montgomery College. In 2005, he received the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce Lighthouse Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Community. Also in 2005, he was a finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and received the Southern Delaware Tourism Award for his contributions to the community.
Freeman was awarded the 2004 Marriott International Inc. Arts and Humanities Corporate Patron Award for Excellence and the 2003 Howard J. Garber Memorial Citizen of the Year Award, presented by the Greater Olney Civic Association. Also in 2003, he was included in “People to Watch – The Power 25: Delaware’s Most Influential People,” a feature by Delaware Today magazine.
Freeman is survived by his loving wife, Michelle, three children, his mother and three sisters – and countless family members, friends and admirers who cherished his loving, generous spirit.
He was buried with military honors at Tusculum Farm, his home located at 4601 Damascus Road, Gaithersburg, Md., on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006. Information regarding a memorial service was to be released when arrangements were finalized.