Long-time educator dies

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Beloved Monette High School teacher and principal Edna Mae Freeman, 96, passed away Wednesday, July 14, 2010, at Monette Manor.

Edna Mae Freeman

She was born May 19, 1914 to the late Henry and Pearl Richardson. She lived her lifetime in and around Monette. She had one brother, Roy Richardson.

Mrs. Freeman began her teaching career at Wallace School, east of Monette, in the mid 1930s then taught at West Ridge, in Mississippi County. She taught at Etowah before coming to the Monette School District in 1942.

She married Charlie Freeman in 1942. They were the parents of a daughter, Olive Joe (Freeman) Taylor, who passed away in 1983. Mrs. Freeman had two grandchildren, Paul Taylor and Elaine Taylor Fowler, and three great-grandchildren, Savannah Fowler, Halle Taylor and Austin Taylor

Mrs. Freeman taught 1-12 grades before becoming Monette High School Principal. Under her leadership she watched the school grow and expand, as five schools consolidated with Monette in 1946. These included Poplar Ridge, Turkey Run, Wallace, and parts of Macey and Hancock.

She was instrumental in the school acquiring the 40 acres of land for the new Monette High School building in 1947, and the new gymnasium and home economics building in 1953. Black Oak consolidated with Monette in 1949 and Childress in 1960. The new west grade school was built in 1963.

In 1966 Mrs. Freeman fought diligently to acquire membership in the North Central Association of High Schools. Even after Mrs. Freeman retired from MHS, and with consolidation with Leachville High School in 1984, the school still retains its North Central accreditation.

After Mrs. Freeman's retirement in 1974 the Edna Mae Freeman FTA Scholarship was established and is given in her honor each year to a graduating BIC senior.

After retiring from MHS she served as Craighead County Schools supervisor and was over nine school districts from 1975-79.

She served as Chairman of the Monette Housing Authority Board and was on the Board of Crowley's Ridge Development Council.

She was the oldest member of the Monette First Baptist Church.

Mrs. Freeman was held in high esteem throughout the Northeast Arkansas area. Her keen memory and friendly manor made her the reigning MHS historian and memory keeper. She was always guest of honor at the MHS Alumni Association reunions, with special recognitions on event programs.

She gave the hand held school bell that she used at MHS to the Buffalo Island Museum before her death. She was called upon to ring it at the 2005 MHS Alumni Day declaring, "School is in session."

Mrs. Freeman will be remembered for her contribution to education, her kindness and friendship to all she taught and met. A Monette street was dedicated two years ago in her name, called "Edna Mae Way." It is located adjacent to the BIC school grounds and is an entrance to the new ballparks.

Family, former teachers, pupils, and friends gathered at the Monette First Baptist Church on Thursday evening, July 15, for visitation. A video of her life in pictures was prepared by Gregg Funeral Home.

Funeral services followed Friday, with Revs. John Paul Maynard, Jerry Reed and Zane Gragg officiating. She was laid to rest at the Monette Memorial Cemetery.

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