We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Arnold Freedman, beloved husband, father, grandfather and friend. Arnie has been very sick, and thanks to Marcia and terrific doctors and nurses, he really got the best care; this was just his time. And so we want to think not about his passing but about his life. He lived a good and constructive and loving life.
He was born in New Haven on May 2, 1940 to Dr.
Morris and Minerva Freedman. As their only child, he was their pride and joy and the center of their universe. I remember leaving Minerva’s hospital room before she died, and her main words were about Arnie, about how he was doing, about his very caring personality. That’s what was on her mind at the end of her life.
Arnold went to Hopkins for high school, Franklin and Marshall for his undergraduate studies, got his Master’s in Psychology at LIU and did further course work in Psychology at the New School. He worked for Community Progress and then worked for the Connecticut State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation. He was a Counselor and a District director and did Program evaluation for 30 years. He retired early with a Golden handshake. There is no way to evaluate how many people he helped over the years. He was very accomplished at what he did and worked well with people on all levels. We are very proud of the role he played in our society.
Gary got Arnold connected to the Masons and the society became a big part of his life for the last 20 years or so. He was very involved and held many positions. He was Master of the Lodge and Secretary for 10 or 15 years. Some call him the backbone of his lodge. He connected people with each other. He often used his skills and knowledge of psychology to be a peacemaker.
When he was a young man, he came to Laurelwood camp, probably looking for girls. Marcia was standing at the gate. They were exclusive immediately; she was pinned within a month and they were married within 3 years, on Feb. 17th 1963.
Together, they raised their three beloved children, Syma, Risa and Ed. There are so many memories of Arnold as a father. No matter what, dinner was at 6:00 every night at home. You could not be late. He was a wonderful father. Syma remembers working in the yard with him; she remember watching James Bond movies and Star Trek. Star Trek changed Syma’s life because she started looking up to the skies. Arnold supported Syma about going into the Air Force. Over the years, he always bragged about her with great pride. Syma remembers Friendly’s after band practice and before vacations.
He woke up with Ed at 5 in the morning so that Ed could play hockey and then at 6:30 they would go to the Acropolis Diner for breakfast. To be frank, I love my kids dearly, but I don’t think I would have done that.
Arnold taught Risa how to drive a stick shift but it did not go so great and so she walked the last couple of blocks home.
I mentioned that he retired early because of a golden handshake and that allowed him to have the time to help even more when Risa was so sick. He made butterfly sandwiches for little Sara. This is very difficult to talk about, but Risa’s sickness and passing were by far the worst things in Arnold’s life. Risa was incredibly courageous; she would get herself downstairs to see the kids off in the morning and go back to bed. Even as her body failed her, her spirit never did. Risa passed away on Nov 3, 2001. I don’t know how Arnold and Marcia went on but they did, and the fact that Gary and Jake and Sara stayed so close helped a lot.
He was proud of Syma and David, Ed and Kim. They have all been close and are all feeling a tremendous sense of loss today.
As much as Arnold loved being a father, he really relished his role as a grandfather to his seven grandchildren
Every conversation, every nugget of information about the grandchildren would be talking points for him with everybody else.
And boy, was Arnie a talker. He talked to everybody and anybody. He was always ready to talk. It’s nice to see that Ed has grown into this aspect of his father.
I’ll remember his voice; soft, sincere. And as he got sicker, his voice had this rasp to it that made me hang on every word.
Memory is a strange thing and over the last day or so many conversations that I had with Arnold over the years have come back to me. And what has come back to me most is that Arnold would always tell me about something that was going on in his life, and sometimes the things were sad things, and I would be affected, and then somehow he would start cheering me up about his problem, trying to put the best face on it. That was Arnold; he couldn’t stand making anyone sad, so we changed roles in mid-conversation.
I want to say something about Marcia. If you know her, you know that she is a strong person, but she’s even stronger than that. She has this inner courage, this fortitude that is quite remarkable. She has been realistic about everything during these last years, and she has made wise and forward-looking decisions at every point. And we know that with the help of her children and grandchildren and friends, she will be ok. And she’ll be ok because she knows that everything that could have been done for Arnold was done and he is no longer suffering.
So let’s summarize Arnold’s life. He evaluated programs so let’s evaluate his. Loving and loyal son, married to a wonderful person for 54 years, raised three great people who created their own beautiful families, used his knowledge and talents to work for the good of human beings, worked for his community, and was a good guy who cared about others.
He was a righteous man. May he rest in peace. Let us say Amen.