Portland has lost another community leader, businessman, and Navy veteran with the death of Joseph (Joe) Thurman Freedle on July 8.

Freedle was a Certified Public Accountant and had an office in Portland on Main Street and served on the board for the Farmers Bank for many years.

The Freedle family has long been recognized as prominent members of this area as far back as the 1800s. The family tree goes back to the Brackins and Boyles families who were reported to have arrived in this area around 1800. Marriage brought the families together.

The depression drove Freedle’s parents, W. T. (Jack) and Mable Brackin Freedle, to Detroit, Michigan to find work. While living there, Freedle was born on Dec. 2, 1940. His brother, William Peyton Freedle, was born in 1943, and his sister, Barbara Freedle (Thornton), was born in 1935.

His father was a heavy equipment operator, which caused him to work away from home a lot. The family followed him to Texas and eventually they moved back to Portland.

The two brothers helped their grandfather, John James Freedle, with the farming, while their father was away working.

The day after Freedle graduated from Sumner County High School in 1958, he hitchhiked to Nashville to join the Marines. When he arrived in Nashville, he found that the recruiter had taken the day off.

A Navy recruiter took advantage of the situation, and soon Freedle was on his way to San Diego, Calif. as a young recruit. He served the next four years on the USS Alamo. He became an accomplished radarman and visited many ports of call during his Navy career.

After his enlistment was up, he returned to the area where he took a job in McMinnville as a debt collector. He returned to Portland when Lawnlite opened a new factory, which was built on what had been his grandfather’s farm.

During this time, Freedle began attending night classes at Western Kentucky University, where he earned a degree in accounting and economics in 1967. While working on his degree, he met Johnnie Alice Denton and they married in June of 1964.

Soon they were on their way to Knoxville where he had accepted a job as a staff accountant with the Atomic Energy Commission in Oak Ridge, Tenn. While living in the area, the couple began attending the University of Tennessee where they earned Master of Science degrees.

He accepted a job in Nashville with Peat, Marwick & Mitchell a national accounting firm.

When Volunteer State Community College was opened in Gallatin, Tennessee State Representative Melvin Briley recommended Freedle for a job at the college. In July of 1971, President of the College Dr. Hal Ramer announced that Freedle had been appointed to serve as the assistant business manager of the college. In addition, Freedle taught accounting, business, and economics.

Several years later, he was elected to the Board of Directors for the Farmers Bank. While serving on the board he had the opportunity to recommend one of his former students, Tommy Whitaker, to be president of the bank. Whitaker continues to be president of the bank today, and they worked closely together until Freedle’s retirement from the board in 2012.

In 1972, Freedle decided to open his own CPA office in Portland. He opened an office on the second floor of the family operated hardware store on Main Street. Many of his clients were business people and former students who recognized his strong work ethic and chose him to handle their financial affairs.

Freedle’s great-grandfather O. H. Freedle, helped organize the Masonic Lodge in Fountain Head in 1866 along with his father and grandfather. He followed in their footsteps and joined Lodge #326 where he became a Royal Arch Mason and Shriner in the Al Menah Lodge.

A newspaper clipping found in an old Freedle family Bible was a tribute to Judge O. H. Freedle. The article was probably from the old Portland Herald. The family believes this tribute could be said of his great-grandson, Joseph (Joe) Thurman Freedle.

“Orville Freedle lived to the ripe old age of 93 years and 8 months, leaving a record as soldier and citizen, that we his survivors delight to honor, and of which his family may well be proud. Rest, Soldier, Rest.”

Joe is survived by his loving wife of 57 years, Johnnie Alice; two sons, Jonathan Denton (Jamie) Freedle, Joseph (Jack) Brackin (Mandy) Freedle; and grandchildren Noah, Makenna, Kylie, Randall, and Jamison. His full obituary can be found on The Portland Sun Facebook page.

Recommended for you