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Freemans expect to stay active in retirement

Stan and Linda Freeman have no intention of being snowbirds now that they are retired. They love it in Kenmare and have every intention of staying involved in the community in some capacity.

4/19/16 (Tue)

Not Snowbirds... Stan and Linda Freeman post for a photograph in front of the fireplace in their home in Kenmare. The Freemans recently reitred after more than 35 years of owning and operating Freeman Oil & Body Shop in downtown Kenmare.

By Marvin Baker

Stan and Linda Freeman have no intention of being snowbirds now that they are retired. They love it in Kenmare and have every intention of staying involved in the community in some capacity.

The Freemans retired from owning and operating Freeman Oil & Body Shop after more than 35 years in business.

Stan Freeman suggested very jokingly that his biggest fear now that everyone knows he’s retired, is that he will get ‘volunteered’ for community service.

With all due respect, however, the Freemans are to be commended in this community for all their volunteer efforts over the years.

“You can always get involved,” Stan Freeman said. “I don’t know an organization that won’t have you.”

But in the mean time, they plan to spend some time with their grandchildren and travel, and as Stan puts it, “there’s a lot of things to see and do.”

Linda Freeman said they moved to Kenmare in the 1970s and one of the first thing she did was resurrect adult summer recreation including Kenmare softball teams.

In fact, she was active in a co-ed league for a number of years.

Stan was on the recreation committee and worked on softball. He was also a member of the American Legion and coached and umpired softball.

They were both active in the Nazareth Lutheran Church choir and Linda directed the choir for a time. They both served on the church council and had officer jobs with the local bowling league.

Stan has been deeply involved in the Veterans Club and has been an officer in that organization and has been a member of the fire department.

He continues to arrange and be part of the color guard at military funerals and is active in the Kenmare Country Club.

The Freemans have been members of the Association of Commerce and Stan served as president for two years and Linda was the Fund Itt treasurer and served a couple of terms on the economic development board.

“I was the accompanying piano at the high school for 35 years,” Linda said. “I got the kids ready for regional and state music competition. That’s what I love doing. It’s a lot of fun.”

Professionally, in addition to doing books at Freeman Oil, Linda was director of Wheels & Meals for a number of years, starting there as a bookkeeper more than 32 years ago.

“Now, Lisa Bartlett has taken over,” she said. “And she is doing a fabulous job.”

The Freemans came to town in 1970, after she grew up in Norwich and he grew up in Granville.

He got a job in Kenmare as a body man at Erickson Ford. He later ran Stan’s Body Shop in the building immediately north of the San Way Ve motel and the couple began Freeman Oil & Body Shop in 1985 under the Husky brand and later went to Sinclair because of incentives offered and quality products.

Linda still has a vivid memory of when they first came to town.

“We had lunch in a restaurant downtown and the waitress was so helpful,” she said. “We like Kenmare, we always have. From the beginning, people were so helpful and friendly, they made us feel welcome.”

She likes to think that Kenmare has that rare commodity among people of working together as a whole to make the community better.

“Pioneer Village is a good example of working together,” she said. “It’s taken a lot of work by a lot of people to keep the hospital going. And I’m a strong believer in shopping locally. If you don’t use it, it will go away.”

She added Kenmare has a lot going on for its size and offers a lot that people should utilize.

The Freemans have four children with Michelle, the only one who lives in Kenmare. Carmen and Tyler live in Fargo and Kristi, the youngest, lives in East Grand Forks, Minn.

“They come home for the holidays, we camp and they join us,” Linda said. “All of them have worked at the shop.”

They’ve actually had the shop for sale a number of years and became serious about selling five years ago.

“We started talking seriously the last five years,” Stan said. “We hired a realtor and that didn’t go well. We hired a company out of Denver and I wouldn’t recommend them.”

He said he didn’t realize it was so hard to sell a business.

But it was a former employee Mark Staskywicz, who with his wife Sara, purchased Freeman Oil & Body Shop in March.

“We’ve had some bites from people who appeared serious,” Stan said. “He was elk hunting with friends and it went from there. Mark and Sara will do well.”

Linda added, “It worked out really well. They ran it in transition and gave us free time. I’m so hopeful that all the customers who were loyal to Stan, do the same for Mark and Sara, and they get new ones, and tell the readers, thanks for the support all those years.”

According to Stan, he liked the customers and will most likely miss meeting and greeting them. He said he loved getting to visit with people and helping them out.

On the flip side, he said the hardest part of his job was employee management and human resources.

Linda received a lot of benefits from Wheels & Meals over the years and was part of an umbrella group that included North And South Dakota to teach public transit. In fact, she still manages the training.

It allowed her to let people take responsibility.

“I loved that job,” she said. “There was never a day that was the same. It was always interesting. I did bookkeeping and fund raising. You have to have a lot of talents. I enjoyed the people and the challenges.

And much like Stan, she said she didn’t dislike it, but the toughest part of her job was managing employees.

“It helps to get involved in the community. You can meet some fabulously talented people,” Linda said. “I miss the interesting personalities and camaraderie. Sometimes we don’t give people enough credit.”

Stan said he expects he will stay active in the Vet’s Club and volunteer at the country club, and he has a wood working shop that will keep him occupied. They’ll go camping and maybe go south for the winter. There may even be some auto racing.

“Yes, but we won’t be snowbirds,” Linda said. “But it sure is fun to be golfing in February.” ... 

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