Entrepreneur, philanthropist Dick Freeland crosses over

| October 29, 2013
Dick Freeland

Dick Freeland

FORT WAYNE—One of the city’s most well-known champions passed away last week.

Dick Freeland, 76, was called home by the Lord on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, with his family by his side. He was chairman of the board of Pizza Hut of Fort Wayne Inc.

Born March 16, 1937, in Nevada, Mo., he was a son of the Rev. Fred and Helen Freeland. In high school, he moved with his family to Des Moines, Iowa, where he was an ironworker and worked on Atlas rocket launch sites throughout the Midwest.

In 1957, he married Deanna Walters and they had three children, Kim (Alan) Cook, Terri Derheimer (deceased), and Todd (Angie) Freeland.

In 1967, Freeland took a part-time job at a Pizza Hut for $1.25 an hour. He eventually became a store manager, area manager and a part-owner in an Iowa franchise. In 1972, he and Deanna moved to Fort Wayne and opened their first Pizza Hut on East State near Coliseum Boulevard. Over 40 years the business grew to include 48 Pizza Huts in Indiana and Ohio and four KFC restaurants.

In 1995, Freeland traveled to Poland to advise the Pizza Hut team on improving their operations. Soon after, he became a partner in the Pizza Hut and KFC business in Poland and the Czech Republic.

Freeland’s philosophy was to hire high-quality employees, train them well and empower them to make decisions for the benefit of the customer and the business.

“Employees need to be in a situation where… they are having fun and like what they are doing.… There are only so many hours, minutes, days, weeks that you are going to live on this earth, and that time should be spent enjoying as much of it as you can,” Freeland said in a training tape for new employees.

In his leisure time, Freeland was involved heavily in local, state, and national politics. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, traveling, and breeding Arabian horses at his Freeland Farms, some of which were sold in Europe, South America and the Middle East. He was a founding member and on the board of directors of the Arabian Horse Breeders Alliance and the Arabian Breeders World Cup.

In February of 2013, Freeland was awarded the “Sagamore of the Wabash” by Governor Mike Pence, who recognized Freeland for his entrepreneurial spirit, public service and courageous work. Ducks Unlimited named him Conservationist of the Year in 2013. His board affiliations included Steel Dynamics Inc., Hall of Fame member of International Pizza Hut Franchise Holders Association, Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce, Lutheran Hospital, Leadership Fort Wayne, and Allen County Republican Party. He was a member of Fort Wayne Business Forum, Young Presidents’ Organization, Council for National Policy, Republican Senatorial Committee, Fort Wayne Country Club, Sycamore Hills Golf Club, and regional finance chairman of Bush/Quayle 1992.

He was also instrumental in the founding of The Chapel.

In addition to his wife and children, survivors include his half sister, Eleanor Mathis of Broken Arrow, Okla.; grandchildren, Tyler Freeland, Dillon Freeland, Deanna Derheimer, Lindsay (Darin) Falk, Tiffany (Mike) Rego, and Austin Freeland; and one great-grandchild, Connor Falk. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Terri Derheimer, in 2009; his brother, John (who died at age 10); and his half brother, Fred Freeland Jr.

Funeral services were Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, at The Chapel with private burial services. Arrangements were by D.O. McComb & Sons Funeral Home.

Preferred memorials may be made to Turnstone Center or The Chapel.

To sign the online guestbook, please visit www.mccombandsons.com.


Category: Local, Obituaries

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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