Catherine Moore Freed

Freed Catherine OBIT

Catherine Moore Freed passed away in her home in Ada on Nov. 25, 2016.

She was the daughter of a prominent Army physician and grew up at their stations in Texas, California, Pennsylvania, Panama and Hawaii.

She held bachelor of arts and bachelor of fine arts degrees from the University of Texas, master of arts from the University of Kansas, and doctor of fine arts (honorary) from Ohio Northern University. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Mortar Board.

She married DeBow Freed, a West Point graduate, and after several years of meaningful military service in the U.S. and abroad, they chose to go into private church-related higher education in keeping with their commitment to long-time public service. That led to her husband’s deanship of Mount Union College for five years, and presidencies of Monmouth College, Ohio Northern University and the University of Findlay, for a total of 32 years as president. She was a full partner in their higher education service, contributed greatly to success of the institutions they served, and was very active in campus and community affairs wherever they lived.

She taught at the universities of Kansas and New Mexico, and at colleges near their other locations. 

She was active on campus and in community matters in northwest Ohio. She was a lay minister in the Methodist and Presbyterian churches, had earlier been elected Moderator of the largest Presbytery in the country at the time, taught Bible study classes, conducted worship services as a visiting substitute for the regular minister in area churches, was on the regional Girl Scout Councils, and worked with United Way and other service and charitable organizations.

The dedication plaque of the Freed Performing Arts Center at Ohio Northern University, which is named for her, states that she, “a former faculty member and church leader brought exceptional abilities and grace to many areas of University and community life. Her quiet confidence, hard work, Christian concern and kindness, and encouragement of cooperative endeavors helped to bring faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends together to move the institution forward in remarkable ways.” She was strongly committed to the institutions the Freeds served, and was always active with students and student organizations. 

The institutions she and her husband served benefitted from her taste, dedication, and hard work. She was highly knowledgeable about the arts, loved beautiful things, and had collected them since childhood. She used her collection of attractive items to completely furnish their homes and made the homes, yards, and gardens into showplaces for hundreds of events annually. 

Her friendly manner, elegant presence, and frequent direct contact with students and faculty had highly beneficial impact on the campus atmosphere, and made lasting impressions on students, parents, and visitors. The total of her activities was that she was seen as a person who was for the good features of the institution, good features of the faculty and staff, and good features of the student body and parents. 

The annual outstanding senior female student leadership and service award at Ohio Northern University is named for her as is the Catherine Freed Mortar Board Chapter and the Freed Contemporary Christian Lecture Series at the University of Findlay. 

She is prominently included in the room which is dedicated to the Freeds at West Point and in the book West Point Leadership, Profiles of Courage, which profiles 180 West Point graduates since its founding who are characterized as having helped to shape our world. The text notes the key role and unique contributions she made in the Freeds’ lifetime of service to the nation.

The Freeds’ son, DeBow II, passed away from the effects of cancer in 2014. Her mother, Henrietta Banker Moore died in 1952 and her father, Prentice Moore in 1985. 

She is survived by her husband, DeBow Freed, in Ada and her sister, Elizabeth Ross, in Lake Lure, N.C.

A memorial service will be at the Chapel at Ohio Northern University at 11 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 17, with a display of mementos and visual coverage of events of her life in the chapel lobby from 10 to 10:55 a.m. 

A memorial service will also be conducted later in the Old Cadet Chapel at West Point, N.Y., prior to burial in the West Point National Cemetery.

She was 90 years old at the time of her death.

The family suggests no flowers or memorial contributions. Condolences or other messages can be sent to or mailed to him at 205 W. Lima Ave., Ada, OH 45810.