Today marks the end of our beautiful present. Loving husband, brother, father, and friend Saint Freeburg has gone with his Savior Jesus Christ to live forever in the presence of God. There to greet him are his dear mother and father, Bud and Berniece Freeburg, his sister and brother-in-law JoAnn Ball and Neil Ball, sister-in-law Marlene Freeburg, Alice and Earl Waller, Roger Waller, Russell and Velma Waller, and many others who he called family and friend. We will miss him beyond measure. He is in our veins, he is in our blood, he will fill our hearts forever and ever.
Bernard Junior “Saint” Freeburg (June 29, 1934 - June 11, 2017) was the first of seven children born to Bud and Berniece Freeburg. He grew up with his tribe in the town of Spencer, Iowa. Saint accomplished much in his life but his most proud accomplishments was his marriage of 58 years to his bride, his honey, Gayle Marie and the family they created together. To their union came five girls in rapid succession; Kelly Rae, Christy Lynn, Jojean, Sandra Jane, Carol Leigh, and their only son born five years later, Ryan J. Saint used to say, “They are all really nice people. I don’t know if that is to spite me or in spite of me.” He was the most honest person you could have the pleasure to know and if you knew him he called you his friend.
Saint attended Spencer High School where he participated in football, basketball and track; excelling in all. He and his brother Ronnie along with teammates Bill Birchard, Buzz Curry, Keith Pullen, Danny Neville and Bob Carpenter, took the Tigers basketball team to the State Finals in 1951. Saint and Ron were part of the mile relay team that held the record for many years at Spencer High School and Saint also held the record for the 880 yard run up until the time his own children were in high school. He did one tour in the United States Army. Stationed in Germany, he took the opportunity to travel Europe. He loved Italy the most and said that was the only place he would care to return, “The people were kind and the food was great.” He came back to the States a Sergeant, played semi-professional basketball, and attend Cornell College and Iowa State Teachers College (UNI) where he met the love of his life, Gayle Marie Waller. After a brief courtship, they wed in the fall of 1958. He loved to bowl and played league out at 20th Century Lanes for many years. Saint was a scratch golfer who enjoyed his membership at the Spencer Golf and Country Club where he later moved his family. He was an avid hunter and fisherman for much of his life but he put his shotgun away when he could no longer bare the tears of five little girls. Fishing was the pastime that Saint shared with his children and his friends. Fishing trips to Minnesota with his brothers and friends were legendary. He was also a Freemason associated with “The Grand Lodge” also known as the Masonic Temple of Spencer, Iowa. For many years he led DeMolay. Both he and Gayle were community driven and devout Christians who practiced their faith throughout their lives. They raised their children and nurtured their faith alongside their church family at the First Christian Church of Spencer. During the 60s and 70s Saint was a fierce proponent of peace while many families in town were losing loved ones to the war in Vietnam. He was a craftsman, a trim carpenter, an artist. There was nothing Saint could not build and he was a Master at his craft. Bringing craft and faith together was important to him and he volunteered his time to help build the set for the Passion Play at the Clay County Fairgrounds and for the set of Jesus Christ Superstar as well. Saint was proud to be from Iowa and extolled the virtues of growing up in a small town. He served his generation well.
Saint and Gayle moved their family to Scottsdale, Arizona in 1985 where Saint hung out a shingle and continued to hone his craft. He was a respected tradesman, business man, and left his mark all over the Valley of the Sun garnering many loyal clients and making numerous friends. He remained a University of Iowa Hawkeyes fan his entire life. He and Gayle were season ticket holders to the Arizona Diamondbacks for decades and supported the Coronado Dons all of their days.
Three years ago Saint finally relented to knee replacement surgery. He had toiled with knee pain since his basketball years but in hindsight he knew he had waited too long. Rehabilitation did not go well and although the pain was gone he became less mobile for it. His heart was hurting from many years of heavily smoking Lucky Strikes though he had quit “cold turkey” at age 50; another accomplishment he was very proud of. One year ago Saint went to the hospital with chest pains and found his heart in disrepair. It was his choice to forgo surgical prescriptions. Not too long after, he fell and broke his hip for which he never truly recovered. After a short stay in assisted living near Gayle’s memory care, his daughter Carol and his good friend Rick, who is Carol’s husband asked Saint to come live with them. Jojean was living there as well and for many months his children rallied to make him comfortable and to get him back and forth for visits to see Gayle. One week prior to his death he exhibited a burst of life and shared stories, laughed, and was able to eat many of his favorite foods. What followed was an immediate decline to his death at age 82. He was surrounded with love.
Saint is survived by his beautiful wife Gayle, his brothers and sisters Ron Freeburg of Phoenix,, Janice & John Cannon of Scottsdale, Kenneth “Butch” & JoAnn Freeburg of Black Mountain, North Carolina, Don & Geordy Freeburg of Coppel, Texas, and Connie & Roger Groff of Ankeny, Iowa. His children Kelly (Doug) Adams of Spencer, Christy Syndergaard of Red Oak, Iowa, Jojean Dikeman of Scottsdale, Sandra (Todd) Howard of Tucson, Carol (Rick) Alfaro of Scottsdale, Ryan J Freeburg of Scottsdale. He was a devoted grandfather and great-grandfather to Nichole (Paul) Moreland and their children Gage and Echo, Eric (Jodi) Adams, Daniel Goulart, Skyler(Ashley) Roder and their children Emmett and Jameson, Paden (Sydney) Roder, Michael John Dikeman, Kaleigh Rae Alfaro, E. David Alfaro and Chelsea Friday and their children Isaiah, Jeremiah, Avery, and Bernard Bruce Santino; Blaze Dikeman, Rees Howard, Mason Howard, Travis Howard, Rourke Freeburg, Rogan Freeburg, and Jack Freeburg. And of course his life long friends Gladys and Lowell Sovereign, Beth Waller, Mary Lou Markham, Buzz Curry, Bill Birchard, and Richard Anderson, just to name a few.
A memorial service celebrating Saint’s life is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday the 24th of June, 2017 at Messinger’s Funeral Home, 7601 E. Indian School Road, Scottsdale, Arizona. Everyone is welcome to share a story, a laugh, a cry, or a smile.
A graveside service for Saint will be held Thursday, June 29, at 10:30 at the North Lawn Memorial Cemetery in Spencer, Iowa. Afterwards we’ll join in fellowship at the East Leach Park Shelter to share a story, a laugh, a cry, a smile, and to celebrate a life well-lived. This was Saint’s wish - to celebrate life.
Condolences can be mailed to: Gayle Freeburg, ℅ Carol Alfaro, 7019 E Vernon Avenue, Scottsdale, AZ 85257