Stanley Freeman was born the second-youngest of eight children to Joseph Freeman, a veterinary surgeon from Yorkshire, and his wife Susan.
His father, who made his farm visits by horse and buggy, is remembered for having delivered a two-headed calf, which was donated to Huron County Pioneer Museum.
Tragedy struck the family in 1935, when Dr. Freeman died unexpectedly, leaving his wife a widow in the midst of the Depression with eight kids. Stanley was just 9.
With no means of support (this was before the days of government assistance programs), his mother relied on the kindness of family and friends to keep the family together.
The children learned early to help out. Dad recalled how he and his brothers would pick up pieces of coal that had fallen on the train tracks at the end of their street. After they told the train engineers why they needed it - to fuel the cookstove and heat their home - larger amounts of coal "accidentally" dropped off the trains when the engineers saw the boys waiting near the tracks.
Stanley was a scrapper: so much so that he earned the nickname "Tunney" after Gene Tunney, the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1926 to 1928, who retired undefeated. The nickname was truly reflective of his character into his later years, when he faced health challenges including blindness and strokes.
His formal education ended when he left school at 16 to work full time and help support his mother and younger sister, who was still at home. He joined the army, worked in a munitions factory in Woodstock, Ont., and was in training for deployment to Europe when the war ended in 1945.
As a young man, Stanley loved to fly. He and a buddy owned a single-engine, two-seater Cessna. He would recount how they used to toss a roll of toilet paper out of the plane, then circle to see how times they could cut the descending ribbon of paper with the propeller before coming too close to the ground. Regrettably, he never disclosed the record number of fly-throughs.
Stanley married Marjorie Hart, a vivacious woman eight years his junior, in 1954. The marriage lasted 58 years, until his death.
Having grown up in the Depression, he wanted to ensure the family could be self-sufficient and grow its food and raise chickens. In 1962, during the Cuban missile crisis, he purchased an 85-acre farm. Farm life had its challenges, but there was always room for relatives and friends to share a holiday meal.
Dad made sure the family had wonderful experiences together: driving to Florida, a trip to see Expo 67, camping trips. He always paid cash. His philosophy was that if you haven't earned it, you shouldn't spend it.
His legacy and wisdom live on in his loving wife Marjorie and four children, Susan, Sandy, Diana and Dan.
Sandy Freeman is Stanley's daughter.
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