- Cullman, Alabama

March 11, 2013

Chester Freeman's legacy will live on

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — Chester Freeman was more than just a man, and his legacy and impact will far outlive the many years he had on this earth. Chester was a dear friend and mentor, a role model who far exceeded the greatest things in life. I only knew Chester a short time; I first met him while working maintenance at the Field of Miracles at Chester Freeman Park where he would often stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday night to watch a Miracle League softball game. After working for the Parks and Recreation Department for nearly two years, I sought out to meet Chester and hear about his involvement with our parks, as well as his advice for my own future with the department. He proved to be inspiring, charming, and extremely accomplished after the first time I ever talked with him. I would later visit him from time to time where he would talk about his time as the Candy Man or working for a banana supplier as one of his first jobs. No matter what he did, Chester was focused on giving what he could in any way to grow and build our community. Whether you knew him or not, he worked day in and day out until his last days on this earth to make our lives better in this community. He was dedicated and devoted to offering himself as a humble servant, and he always took action, got involved, and did whatever was necessary to see something good come to fruition.

From his days as the Candy Man simply smiling and greeting hundreds of people by name to his many years with the Lion's Club and building our high quality Parks and Recreation program, Chester constantly exemplified true service and love for his community and the people in it. His many accomplishments in our department will precede him for years to come, as the Field of Miracles, the Wellness and Aquatic Center, Heritage Park, and even our parks director, John Hunt, who Chester saw as the right person to lead Cullman's Parks and Recreation efforts over 20 years ago, will all continue to serve this community and embody the great vision Chester fought for every day in his life; his love for the community was unparalleled. I was so fortunate to know Chester, and he will always inspire me.

In Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, the final words sing as a testament to Chester, his vision, and his recent passing from this world to a much better place: "I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous, and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known." Chester will be dearly missed, but his mission, his vision, and his legacy will live on far beyond our own lifetime.

Wade Harbison