Former communication professor, adviser remembered


Courtesy of Meghan Frick

Meghan Frick and David Freeman pose at his retirement party in June 2013.

Gabrielle Troutman, Reporter

A former director of student publications of The Appalachian from 1991 to 2013, professor and friend of student media died July 28. 

David Freeman was a husband, father, veteran, football lover, writer and an active member of his Bible study. On top of the many legacies he leaves, Freeman was a beloved adviser to The Appalachian for over 20 years before his retirement in 2013. 

Freeman was known by newspaper staff for his open office door, his pen marks on editions and on articles, his sage advice, his deep voice and his white mustache. 

 “You could just kind of tell that David, David was from the real world,” said Brad Norman, an App State and newspaper alum. 

Norman, who now works for NASCAR as the senior director for digital editorial, met his wife while they worked at The Appalachian. He said how “rewarding” and “really special” the organization and Freeman was to them and their careers. 

“He was patient with a room full of eager 20-somethings, and helped guide the newspaper through a time of transition from wax machine to digital design,” said Gerald Witt, App State and newspaper alum. 

Freeman’s critiques, “often with a red pen,” said John Bennett, App State and newspaper alum, were marked with variations of checkmarks, comments and insight for the staff to learn from. 

His critiques never had “malice” and usually contained a “smile under his bright white mustache” when he knew his students were taking in the feedback, said Bennett. 

“He never tried to change or overly steer our content, but always provided the sounding board, professional expertise, and perspective we needed while covering difficult topics,” said Meghan Frick, App State and former newspaper alum.

Freeman’s “real world” experience also came from his time as a U.S. Marine veteran. He lived in Japan for two years while stationed there during the Vietnam War before continuing his education at UNC-Asheville and Arkansas State University. As an airplane mechanic, his daughter, Talia Freeman, said being a Marine shaped him into who he was. 

While The Appalachian students appreciated the “real world” newsroom experience, professor emerita Nina-Jo Moore said Freeman’s classroom students also appreciated his dedication to the field. 

“The students in his classes learned a great deal about writing for media, and they were happy to know that he was a practitioner of journalism, as well,” Moore said. 

Moore remembers him as “one of the kindest persons” who will be “long missed.” 

Another former colleague of Freeman’s, Terri Miller, worked with him for over eight years in what was known then as the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. 

“From the welcome email I received from him before I even started working with him until his last day at ASU, I knew I had a colleague that was so much more,” Miller said. “I had a friend.” 

Freeman’s dedication to his career was notable to all who knew and worked with him. However, Miller noted two things that most rounded out his character in her opinion. 

“His faith and his love for his family were the most important things in his life,” Miller said. “His dedication to his students was genuine.”

David Freeman and his wife, Cynthia Taylor, watch their daughter, Talia Freeman, get married in a “last minute” ceremony in his hospital room, July 27, 2022. Courtesy of Talia Freeman.

 Outside of journalism and teaching, he maintained a weekly presence at his men’s Bible study at Boone United Methodist Church. 

“Rain, sleet or snow, he was always there,” said Dan “Vallie” Hill, WASU adviser and fellow Bible study member. 

As a weekend staple, Saturday Bible study was a place to find Freeman. Either that, or with his wife, Cynthia Taylor and his daughter, Talia Freeman. Bennett said Fridays, in preparation for weekends off, were a favorite of Freeman’s. 

“We would sit in the newsroom and talk about football or his daughter or weekend plans,” Bennett said, “His laugh was always louder and fuller on Fridays.”

Talia Freeman attested to both attitudes of her father — the family and work side. She said he worked hard to provide for their family, but made sure he was present, sometimes as a “human Google” for topics like football and history. 

Talia Freeman also said she keeps her father’s business card on her desk as “a simple reminder to stay true to my work, family, and colleagues” as David Freeman did.

 On July 27, Talia Freeman’s wedding day came. The original wedding date was one David Freeman wasn’t expected to live to see, so they decided “last minute” to get married at Watauga Medical Center in his hospital room.

 The ceremony was lit with hospital lights and love. His wife, known to him as his “beautiful lady,” was by his side as they watched their daughter get married. Taylor and Freeman’s own 44-year marriage, their daughter said, was one of commitment, acceptance and “unconditional love.”

David Freeman, 75, died the following day. 

“I know he held on to see us get married,” Talia Freeman said in a Facebook update. “He was the absolute best father and friend.”