Freeman R. Jones, 92, a native and longtime resident of Charlotte, passed away March 27, 2019 at Well-Spring Retirement Community in Greensboro, NC.
For the past 10 years, he and his wife have lived at Well-Spring to be closer to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
He has been married to Helen Bouldin of Clarksdale, Mississippi for almost 70 years. Freeman was a natural leader, an athlete and a compassionate man of principle who was not afraid to take a stand. He committed his life to service and promotion of his hometown, the Queen City. He was also the perfect gentleman and a father and husband who showered his family with unconditional love.
The son of Edwin Epes Jones and Mary Williams Carson Jones, Freeman grew up on Hopedale Avenue in Charlotte along with a neighborhood gang of 17 boys. His father built a boxing ring in the back yard to keep them busy and because he believed “every boy needs to know how to take care of himself.”
After graduation from the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia, where he excelled in basketball and golf, Freeman briefly attended Davidson college before enlisting in the US Naval Air Corps. He served from 1944-1946 in the South Pacific as radio operator and nose gunner in a PB4Y-2 Privateer bomber squadron. He also put his boxing skills to work as a lightweight boxer in the navy.
He returned to Davidson in 1947 where he played on both the golf and basketball teams. In later years, after establishing his business career, he graduated from the Harvard Business School Management Development Program.
Freeman began his 30 year career in broadcasting during the early 1950’s in Atlanta as partner in an advertising sales firm that covered the southeast for radio networks and for the rapidly emerging television market.
In 1960, he returned to Charlotte and entered business with his father, E.E. Jones, a founder of the WSOC television and radio stations. Freeman became sales manager for WSOC-TV and AM-FM Radio, then Vice President and General Manager of WSOC. Later, when the station merged with a larger broadcasting firm, he became a Vice President of Cox Broadcasting Corporation.
The station was affiliated with ABC Television and he and his wife Helen entertained the likes of Barbara Walters and Howard Cosell at their farm in Cabarras County. He was also the editorial spokesperson for the station and gave weekly television broadcasts focused on local and national topics during the local evening news hour.
Freeman was a tireless community servant. He was a Vice President and Director of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce and served on the boards of First Citizens Bank, Charlotte Speech and Hearing Center, Charlotte Council on Alcoholism, Charlotte Mecklenburg Hospital Authority, and the Charlotte United Community Services.
He served on the Board of Trustees for the Alexander Children’s Center, Johnson C. Smith University, The Foundation of UNCC, Inc. and the Board of Visitors for Davidson College. He was Public Relations Chair for a multi-million dollar statewide campaign for Queens College (now Queens University) and Davidson College and was Chairman of the Charlotte ABC Board.
He believed in “family first” and in 1971 with his brother and sister, started a family real estate investment firm, EFC Corporation, with the express intent of using business to keep the family together over the generations. It remains a small firm but is the reason that far flung family members of now 4 generations still get together for the annual meeting.
He was a man who rarely discussed his deep and abiding faith, but clearly expressed it in the many blessings he gave for gatherings of family and friends. He taught Sunday School and served as an Elder and Vice Moderator for First Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.
Freeman was a lifelong golfer and for many years he maintained his membership at the Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta. He was from childhood an avid fisherman. At the age of 12, he was the youngest angler to receive a gold button from the West Palm Beach Silver Sailfish Derby for catching a sailfish over 8 feet long.
He loved dove hunting in the Mississippi Delta, fishing the Santee Cooper and, every year for over 20 years, he and three of his best friends would make the fall bluefishing pilgrimage to Cape Hatteras in a Carolina Blue International Scout named “Ol’ Blue.”
After his retirement from WSOC, he and Helen enjoyed the quiet country life at Cedarvale Farm in the historic 1860’s farmhouse they restored and listed with the National Register for Historic Properties. They owned a 45 ft. Hatteras yacht, the Tiger Lily, and enjoyed cruising the inland waterway from their home port of Coquina Harbor, SC.
He is predeceased by his parents, Mary Carson and Eddie E. Jones, brother Eddie E. Jones, Jr and wife Marjorie, sister Mary Carson and husband J. Norman Pease, Jr., nephews J. Norman Pease III and Edwin Epes Jones III.
He is survived by his wife Helen Bouldin Jones, son Randy Jones (Lee Lucas), daughter Lauren Worth (David), 5 grandchildren and four great grandchildren.
The family would like to offer a special thanks to the nursing staff at Well-Spring Assisted Living and Rehab for giving Dad such loving care.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to: Union Presbyterian Seminary, Jones Scholarship, 3401 Brook Road, Richmond VA 23227; First Presbyterian Church, Television Ministry, 200 West Trade St., Charlotte, NC 28202; or Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro, Payable to Hospice Foundation of Greater Greensboro, 2500 Summit Avenue, Greensboro, NC 27405.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 2nd at the First Presbyterian Church, 200 West Trade Street, Charlotte, NC.
Published in Charlotte Observer on Mar. 28, 2019