Shirley Anita Freeman passed away peacefully on the morning of August 3, 2023.
She was born in Indianola, Oklahoma, on January 6, 1932, to James and Ruby Harper. She was the oldest of five children and helped her mother around the farm during her younger years. Later, the family moved to the neighboring town of Krebs, Oklahoma.
When she was only 15 years old, her mother sent her on a cross-country train trip to San Jose, California, with her younger sisters Marie, Louise, and Karen. There, she was to meet her Aunt Pearl and Uncle Bud, who was to take them to Redwood City. Her younger brother James and her mom joined them later by car.
Shirley spent two years in Redwood City, where she became acquainted with the Santa Cruz beach roller coaster. She loved roller coasters, even in her later years.
Shirley got a job as a mother-helper (nanny) for a family in Redwood City. Later, that family was transferred to San Diego. They begged Shirley’s mother to let her move with them. They promised she would go to school and graduate. She did go and she did graduate from Point Loma High School in June 1950.
Before leaving on the train journey with her sisters, Shirley had become acquainted with George Freeman, who lived in Krebs, Oklahoma.
They continued to write to one another for three years, and on August 6, 1950, Shirley boarded another train to take her back to Oklahoma, where she and George were married on August 12th, at the home of George’s uncle, Robert Freeman, in Krebs.
They made their new home in McAlester, Oklahoma, where George was an employee of the Naval Ammunition Depot. He was transferred to China Lake, California Naval Weapons Center in 1956.
In June of 1956, they packed up the 1940 Ford with a U-haul trailer in tow, with their sons Larry (3 years old) and Clint (6 months old) in the back seat. Pulling up Highway 395 just out of Randsburg, California, Shirley cried and thought, “Where am I moving to?”
Shirley raised a family with George for the next 25 years and later stated that Ridgecrest was the only place she’d ever want to live. Shirley loved people and could strike up a friendly conversation with anyone. She loved going to garage sales with friends on the weekends.
She and George traveled all over the continental US, to Hawaii, and traveled overseas to Japan. Shirley and George were founding members of Immanuel Baptist Church. She loved teaching youth Sunday School and working with youngsters and infants in the nursery.
Shirley is survived by her son Larry, her son Clint, and daughter-in-law Joanne Freeman; four grandchildren, Holly Brown, Jacob Freeman, Miles Freeman, and Alicia Kent; Her brother James Harper and wife Arline; and sister Karen and many nieces and nephews; cousins and one aunt. She is preceded in death by her husband, George, two sisters, Marie Shelton and Louise Hoeffer, and a daughter-in-law, Keiko Freeman.
The Freeman family wants to add a special recognition to High Desert Haven and its staff for their extraordinary care during George and Shirley’s final years of life.
A celebration of life service for George and Shirley Freeman will be held at the Desert Memorial Park on Friday, October 6, at 10:00 a.m.