Dennis Freeman

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Harold Dennis Freeman
Mayor of Logansport, DeSoto Parish, Louisiana, USA
In office
1984–2007
Succeeded by Katherine Thomas Freeman
Personal details
Born (1940-04-23)April 23, 1940
Joaquin, Shelby County, Texas
Died November 23, 2007(2007-11-23) (aged 67)
Logansport, Louisiana
Political party Democratic-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Katherine Thomas Freeman (married 1961–2007)
Children Pamela Kaye Freeman, Susan F. Simmons, Kathy F. Alger
Occupation Insurance agent

(1) Logansport Mayor Freeman worked for sixteen years to procure a new bridge over the Sabine River.

(2) During Mayor Freeman's tenure, the Sabine River waterfront was revitalized with walking trails, a gazebo, picnic grounds, and a veterans' memorial.

Harold Dennis Freeman (April 23, 1940 – November 23, 2007), known as Dennis Freeman, was the mayor of Logansport, a town adjacent to the Sabine River in DeSoto Parish in northwestern Louisiana from 1984 until his death. His contributions were particularly significant considering the otherwise limited role of a small-town mayor. For some sixteen years, he worked patiently with highway officials in Louisiana and Texas to construct a new border bridge over the Sabine River, a project nearing fruition. Freeman also fought to keep the pending Interstate 69 route in western Louisiana closer to Logansport. He helped to establish the first fire and ambulance districts in DeSoto Parish.[1]

Steve Stephens of Logansport said that his friend "did a magnificent job and will be sorely missed. Dennis understood problems and knew how to get things done in government. His death is a loss for this community and this area." Near the end of his life as he fought cancer, Freeman was also attempting to mitigate the closure of a Georgia Pacific plywood plant, the largest employer in Logansport. He worked with state and local agencies to help displaced workers and to procure solutions to the economic gap created from the loss of the plant.[2]

Early years, education, civic leadership[edit]

Freeman was the youngest of six sons born to L.L. Freeman and Britt Annie Freeman in tiny Joaquin, located in Shelby County in east Texas across the Louisiana line from Logansport. He graduated from Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and earned his livelihood for nearly forty years as an independent insurance agent. As Logansport mayor, he worked to procure grants for water, streets, sanitary sewers, parks and local government operations. He was an officer of the Louisiana Municipal Association and a board member of the Sabine River Authority. He was a director for the Bank of Logansport.[1]

Freeman was charter president of the Logansport Lions Club, Logansport Chamber of Commerce, Logansport Development Corporation, and Logansport Athletics Booster Club. He was active in the DeSoto Parish Chamber of Commerce.[1]

Political campaigns[edit]

Elected as a Democrat in 1984, 1988, and 1992, Freeman switched parties and won thereafter as a Republican in 1996, 2000, and 2004. He was also an unsuccessful candidate for the Louisiana House of Representatives in District 7 in the jungle primary held on October 20, 2007, even though he had been undergoing treatment for the cancer that took his life a month later. He received 1,427 votes (11 percent), having finished last in a five-candidate field. The seat, which covers all of DeSoto and ten precincts of adjoining Caddo Parish, went to a Republican, Richard Burford of Stonewall, the easy winner of the November 17 general election. Burford is a former three-term member of the DeSoto Parish Police Jury.[3] Had Freeman been elected, he would not have lived to have taken the seat on January 14, 2008.

In 2004, Freeman was unopposed for his sixth term as mayor. In his last contested election in 2000, he narrowly defeated a fellow Republican Joe C. Liles, 303 votes (51 percent) to 295 (49 percent).[4] Having won his first three terms as a Democrat, Freeman switched to the GOP and secured his fourth term in the 1996 general election over Democrat Andrew D. McGlathery, Jr., 437 (62 percent) to 271 (38 percent).[5] He was within thirteen months of completing an unprecedented sixth mayoral term.

Freeman's legacy[edit]

Former Mayor Harold Cornett of Mansfield, the seat of DeSoto Parish, recalls his former colleague as a "hard worker" who was well thought of in the community and throughout the state. "He was a great leader who never said 'no' to responsibility. He was just a good mayor, and Logansport, the state, and I will certainly miss him," said Cornett, who, as an honorary pallbearer, joined the mayors of Mansfield, Grand Cane, Stonewall, and Natchitoches as well as other elected officials and parish residents at Freeman's funeral.[2]

Some three hundred gathered at the First United Methodist Church in Logansport, where Freeman was a member and sang in the choir, to pay respects to a man noted for his personal "passion". The Reverend Kemper Smith said that Freeman was "passionate about what he believed. . . . His determination served him well because he was a born leader." Daughter Pamela Kaye Freeman (born 1970) of Logansport addressed the mourners and read from a letter that Freeman's wife, the former Katherine Thomas, then seventeen, wrote to him in 1958:

Dennis Freeman's grave in Logansport Cemetery

"I admire you for standing by what you think is right." Replied Pam Freeman: "Doesn't that sound familiar?" The Freemans were married for forty-six years. He was survived by two other daughters, Susan and husband Steve Simmons of Frisco, Texas, and Kathy and husband Billy Alger of Logansport, five grandchildren, and three brothers.[2]

Freeman is interred in Logansport Cemetery located near the riverfront. His marker reads "To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord." The riverfront had been an unattractive briar thicket until Freeman directed its renovation. Now, it is a welcoming entrance off U.S. Highway 84 into Louisiana from Texas. It has a terraced landscape, veterans' memorial, walking paths, gazebo, picnic tables, and a pavilion, mostly financed from grants and private donations.[2]

Freeman's wife Katherine (born November 14, 1940), a Democrat[6] succeeded her husband as mayor.[7] She is listed among the state and local officials who have endorsed the reelection in 2014 of Democrat U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.[8] Freeman's grandson, Thomas "Bryce" Alger was chairman of the DeSoto Parish Democratic Executive Committee from 2012 to 2016.

References[edit]