Melvyn Norris Freed passed away at home in the early morning hours of May 8, 2019.
Born April 30, 1937 in Kansas City, Missouri to Carl and Betty Freed, he was a humble man of quiet achievement. He did not believe achievements were the measure of a man, but his achievements certainly spoke to what he held most dear.
The son of a Russian Jew who escaped from the pogroms of Europe and the Bolshevik revolution, he was an only child but his first cousin, Siegmund “Junior” Wachtel, became like-a-brother as they lived together during WWII. His life of service began early as a boy scout. Despite having earned over 70 merit badges, a medical condition prevented him from attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. That disappointment did not stop him from continuing to serve the Boy Scouts of America for over 60 years as an adult leader and whose professional skills in grant writing helped to procure millions for the organization. In appreciation for that service, he was recognized with the Silver Beaver Award by the Calumet Council, BSA.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the then University of Kansas City going on to receive a PhD in University Administration from Southern Illinois University in 1965. He became the Director of Institutional Research at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro and later it’s Vice President of Administration. In 1969, he was asked to become the chief of staff to Congressman Bill Alexander in Washington, D.C. During that time, he was instrumental in establishing the United Stated National River Boat Academy for which he received a Congressional Citation. Upon returning to Arkansas, he met and married Janet Lea Triplitt and they were blessed with two sons, David and Edward.
The family moved to Hazel Crest in 1977 when Mel became the Vice President of Finance at Governors State University. Upon retiring from there after 10 years of service, he became a professional author writing 7 books ranging on topics from education, business, and medicine. Several of these professional books received national acclaim. After his death, the family received word that his final book, “Seeds for Thought: A Smorgasbord of Wisdom” had been accepted for publication.
Also a public servant, he served the Village of Hazel Crest as a trustee and as a loaned executive to the United Way.
Always looking to serve, he became a freemason in 1973 and was active until his death. He helped establish the Eastern Arkansas Scottish Rite Bodies and his service led him to be honored with the Scottish Rite’s Knight Commander of the Court of Honor. Twice he served as the Master of Oak Forest Lodge #832 and was active in the Joliet Shrine Club and Lamoille Calumet Lodge of Homewood.
In faith, he belonged to multiple synagogues over the course of his life and served as president of Temple Israel in Jonesboro. At Beth Shalom in Park Forest, he was the religious school director. At Temple Anshe Shalom in Olympia Fields, he established the mitzvah fund to assist those in need. In that same spirit, he served on the board of the Society of King Solomon, designed to assist the Illinois Masonic Charities Fund.
His problem solving spirit manifested itself not only in ways to assist those in need, but in practical endeavors as well. He was an inventor who received a United States Patent for a hand tool that he developed.
As a man, husband, and father; educator, author, and inventor; servant, mason, and friend, Mel Freed will be sorely missed. He was a man with timeless ideals who expected no less from himself than what he expected from others. Here is to a life well lived.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Janet, and their two sons, David and Edward; their wives Alicia and Janet; and grandson Maxwell whom he affectionately called “Muscles”. The master of the house, devoted poodle “Mr. Champ”, cannot be forgotten either.
A wake will be held from 5 – 9pm on Monday, May 13th at the Colonial Chapel Funeral Home located at 15525 South 73rd Avenue, Orland Park, IL 60462 (155th & Harlem). At approximately 8pm a proclamation by the Village of Hazel Crest will be made in his honor along with a masonic funeral. Graveside services will Tuesday, May 14th at 11am at Orland Park Memorial Cemetery, 153rd St. & West Ave, Orland Park, IL 60462. Attendees are to meet at the Colonial Chapel Funeral Home at 10:30am for a procession to the cemetery. Afterwards, family and friends are invited to the family home in Hazel Crest from 1-4pm.
Pallbearers will be son David Freed, neighbor Sam Pierce, family friend Mark Finkel, and masonic brothers Mike Buchanan, Ken Epley, and Gene Phillips. All masons in attendance will be considered honorary pallbearers.
Donations in his honor can be made to:
The Shriner’s Hospitals for Children
2211 North Oak Park Avenue
Chicago, IL 60707
The Illinois Masonic Charities Fund
Grand Lodge of Illinois
2866 S. Via Verde St.
Springfield, IL 62703
or the charity of your choosing.