[NFBWATLK] Mike Freeman

Kaye Kipp kkipp123 at gmail.com
Fri Jan 6 16:01:43 UTC 2017

I've known Mike since September of 1987.  I wish I could have heard him play
the Gershwin.  I do remember him playing the piano for the auctions.


-----Original Message-----
From: NFBWATLK [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Prows,
Bennett (HHS/OCR) via NFBWATLK
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2017 7:15 AM
To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List
Cc: Prows, Bennett (HHS/OCR)
Subject: Re: [NFBWATLK] Mike Freeman

Hi Marci and All,

I finally got back to using a keyboard that I'm comfortable writing with. I
started a message to responded to this thread yesterday, got called away,
and somehow it wasn't saved. So, I'll start again.

Marci, I understand the difficulty in dealing with Mike's death. As I posted
earlier, he was a very close friend to me from our early teenage years. I
met him at an Oregon School for the Blind summer program in 1965, when I was
13, and he was about 15. We were roommates at that program for learning
mobility, cane travel, and other "techniques of daily living". He and I
immediately hit it off, and had a great 6 week program. We laughed a whole
lot, and played jokes on both staff and our colleagues as students. He
played the trumpet, and I played the bugle, and we volunteered to play
reveille in the  morning, and I think we even played "taps" at night. That
summer developed in to a lifelong friendship. 

Just a few notes I want to share. Mike was a tremendous musician as most
people remember. He did learn to play the guitar a bit, but mostly was an
excellent pianist. Playing at a whole bunch of NFB functions, both by
request and on his own, he was a constant source of music for the folks that
were in attendance. In fact, he played the piano during the early years of
my auctioneering for the NFB of Washington  during the bidding competition,
making that pretty exciting as well. But I think the most memorable
experience for me with Mike's playing the piano was when I heard him play
his own compositions of classical fugues that sounded almost as polished as
the Bach fugues. And one concert I attended featured Mike playing as the
guest pianist for the Oregon Pops Orchestra the George Gershwin composition
"Rhapsody in Blue." He added some flare to the piece that made the concert
totally outstanding.

There were so many other parts to his life as well. He graduated from Reed
and New Mexico State University with degrees in physics. At Reed, he minored
in math, and took a lot of classes in music and languages as well. But of
course, when he joined the NFB, he took off working hard to help improve the
lives of all blind people. His ascendance through the leadership ranks was
surprising to some and expected by me, particularly since we'd had so many
philosophy discussions about the movement in our younger college days. The
impact of the legislation he worked to pass in Washington State had had and
will continue to have positive effects for all of us, including for blind
students, blind parents, parents of blind children, and others who are

I'll stop now, because I can imagine Mike complaining that I shouldn't
prolong this subject. But in closing, I will say that I'm sure he would
insist that we move forward and continue to grow and build the Federation.

RIP, Mike.


Bennett Prows

-----Original Message-----
From: NFBWATLK [mailto:nfbwatlk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Marci
Carpenter via NFBWATLK
Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2017 5:30 PM
To: NFB of Washington Talk Mailing List' List
Cc: Marci Carpenter
Subject: [NFBWATLK] Mike Freeman

Hello friends,

I am having a really hard time this week. On Christmas Eve I lost a very
good friend, Mike Freeman. I spent most of last week calling and emailing
others to let them know of Mike's death and taking care of some details. Now
it is hitting me hard. Mike led the way on most pieces of state legislation
creating and preserving rights for blind children and adults in the last 30
years. He supported and taught me in many ways. He could be very gruff and
sometimes disagreeable, but underneath he had such a big heart. I have met
few people who truly believed in and cared about blind people as Mike did.
He was always generous and supportive of me and others who were experiencing
personal difficulties. It is going to be hard to be in Washington DC without
him later this month. He attended every NFB Washington Seminar from the
early eighties until last year when the snow kept him from going for the
first time. I really need my Federation family right now. I really miss my

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