Dale Freeman was a gentleman and a scholar; he touched many lives in profound ways. Dale had a special way with people and everyone who knew him adored him. He devoted his life to teaching and caring for his beloved wife, Bianca, who is severely disabled from a brain aneurysm suffered 23 years ago. After a hard-fought battle with cancer, Dale passed peacefully early Saturday morning.
Dale has been called a legend among the family of students, former students and staff at Springwood School where he taught for the past 37 years – until just two weeks before his death. His dedication and commitment were recognized at an assembly on April 17 at Springwood School where hundreds of current and former students paid tribute to him. There were standing ovations and not a dry eye in the audience when Dale addressed the crowd. If any moment stands out as the most touching and memorable to him, it would be the dedication and renaming of the Springwood School Fine Arts Center as “The Dale and Bianca Freeman Fine Arts Building.” Bianca was not only a beloved teacher at Springwood as well, but was instrumental in raising funds for and overseeing construction of the fine arts building before her accident. Also announced was the establishment of the “Dale and Bianca Freeman Scholarship” to financially assist worthy college bound graduates of Springwood, established by the Class of 1985.
Some of Dale’s happiest and proudest moments revolved around teaching his students to “think.” He told them they can believe in and stand up for any opinion as long as they know why. He was also fond of saying, “Don’t try to find yourself, create yourself.” He gave them the tools to go out into the word and make a difference. He received numerous cards, heart-felt letters and visits in recent months from both current and former students thanking him for the impact he had made on their lives. As one former student wrote, “Beyond an understanding of writing and appreciation of literature, you showed me the importance of personal conviction, professionalism and individuality. The lessons learned from you have served me well.” Clearly, Dale made a huge impact on those who knew him.
Dale is survived by his best friend and beloved wife of 50 years, Bianca; his sister, Betty Grant, a devoted retired nurse who has helped to care for Bianca for more than 20 years; another sister, Shirley Scarlett of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; nephew Perry Wayne Grant of Utah; niece Mitzi Grant Mortensen of
Colorado; two brothers-in-law, William Taylor Bettis of Franklin, Tennessee, and Steven Bettis of Casa Grande, Arizona; and many nieces and great nieces, nephews and great nephews. The family would like to acknowledge the numerous current and former students of Springwood who were such an inspiration to Dale, his devoted friends and former teaching colleagues, Susan Pitts and Linda Combs, and great nieces Mandy Bowles and Chelsey Harris for their loving care of Bianca.
Services will be held at the West Point First United Methodist Church at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, April 27, followed by a reception at the Zachry Center. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to The Dale and Bianca Freeman Scholarship at Springwood, 1814 Cherry Dr., Lanett, AL, 36863, and/or to Chattahoochee Hospice, 6 Medical Park, Valley, AL, 36854.
Alabama Funeral Homes and Cremation Centers of Camp Hill, Alabama is handling Arrangements.