Charles Freudenberg was the definition of a dad.
“What you saw was what he was.” Tthat’s the way I would best describe my father. Charles Freudenberg never tried to impress anyone. He always wore a white shirt, tie and hi top spit shined boots to work. When not working you’d usually see Dad in blue jeans with a white sweat shirt and hi top boots. Dad very rarely purchased new clothes. He’d wear them out.
Growing up, Dad worked in the family grocery store in North Chattanooga until Uncle Sam called in the early 40’s. When my dad returned home from the Army he had a morning paper route for the Chattanooga Times and drove an ambulance for the National Funeral Home (now Chattanooga Funeral home). When DuPont started taking applications, dad applied and got a job where he remained until retirement in the 80’s.
Dad instilled in me the importance of being loyal to your employer. He was always early and worked until the job was finished. I guess that’s where I got my work ethic. To my knowledge, my father was never late paying a bill, most of the time within a few days of receiving a statement. In his younger years dad enjoyed fishing with his cousin Andy Campbell. If we were ever hungry we always knew where to go because Dad had plenty of food in the pantry and refrigerator. He cooked a large lunch most every day and there was always food left over.
Dad lived his Christianity by taking care of his family and there were many challenges. When my mother and brother got sick he managed to get them the best care available. He’d saved up to provide mom’s end of life care at St. Barnabas Nursing Home.
After meeting John and Ruth Lanham, Dad became an avid student of God’s word. He read Dr. A.E. Wilson’s writings and had most of Dr. J. Vernon McGee’s books. He would never miss “In Touch” with Dr. Charles Stanley. Dad told Pastor Lanham one time he looked forward to his patriotic messages and appreciated his strong belief in the United States and its principles.
Dad’s favorite vacation place was Hot Springs, Ark. We traveled there over a dozen times. Dad believed in those thermal baths.
About 10 years before his death I told my parents we needed to set aside one day a week to eat lunch together. He chose the Terdon Restaurant on Rossville Boulevard. We’d gather there every Thursday. He loved their stuffed bell peppers. I looked forward to that luncheon because you never knew who would show up. Lifetime friend Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles ate with us several times. Dad always paid the bill.
My father was a die-hard in the wool country music fan. He enjoyed Hank Williams, Red Foley, Jimmie Davis and, yes, Roy Acuff was his favorite. When DuPont celebrated their 10th anniversary in Chattanooga they put dad on the entertainment committee. He brought in Mr. Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys who played several concerts under a big tent on the company’s front lawn. There were plenty of hamburgers - one of dad’s favorite foods.
Dad proudly served his country and he wouldn’t tolerate anyone who desecrated the American Flag. Dad had a hard time purchasing anything that was made outside of the United States. Charles Freudenberg loved God, his family and country. He had plenty of stories about growing up in North Chattanooga, his time in the U.S. Army and working shifts at DuPont. He was always ready to tell you about his granddaughter and grandson.
Dad helped me get my start in radio. He graduated from Baylor School with Gus Chamberlain. One day I persuaded him to call Gus at WAPO and that opened the door for my nearly 55 years in broadcasting. Dad also helped me land a weekend job at WDOD through his teenage friend Ernie Feagans, who was the radio station manager. Dad looked forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and enjoying my wife “Julie’s” home-made desserts.
I remember my last Father’s Day with dad. He was hospitalized at Parkridge Medical Center. He asked me if we could go outside for a few minutes. The nurse helped him into a wheelchair and I rolled him to the second floor garden area where neither one of us talked for nearly an hour. Finally Dad said, "I think it’s time to go," and I wheeled him back to his room.
I asked his cardiologist Dr. Carol Gruver what she thought dad was thinking about. Dr. Gruver speculated his thoughts centered on his life and family.
During his last three weeks many friends came by the hospital. I remember the lengthy visit with Luther Masingill. They talked about everything including Luther and Ernie Feagans' trip to the Atlanta farmers market with dad. Luther and Ernie went to sleep by the time they were at Ringgold, Ga. and didn’t wake up until returning home. My good friend Dr. Randy Creel came by several times and had prayer with dad. Pastor Creel listened intently as dad told life stories some I’d never heard. His pastor David Carpenter also spent countless hours with dad. Rev. Carpenter was one of those who ate lunch with the family on Thursday. Rev. Carpenter told me he enjoyed Dad’s stories especially about his military time. I think Rev. Carpenter had heard every one one of them several times.
The Hospice doctor didn’t expect dad to pass so quickly so a longtime friend, Millie Freeman, sister of Vestal Goodman, agreed to stay the night. Millie was with Dad when he passed away peacefully early Wednesday morning, June 23, 2004.
Charles Freudenberg wasn’t perfect, but his family never wanted for the “essentials of life”. He was always willing to help any of us when there was a special need.
Charles Robert Freudenberg was the definition of what a dad should be.
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