Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Anne Wright Freeman 1919-2015; Skater in Memorial Park Later Helped Preserve It She Also Worked to Restore Landmark in St. Augustine

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Anne Wright Freeman 1919-2015; Skater in Memorial Park Later Helped Preserve It She Also Worked to Restore Landmark in St. Augustine

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland

For more than 50 years, Anne Wright Freeman was active in community affairs, playing pivotal roles in preserving Memorial Park in Jacksonville and restoring the Ximenez-Fatio House in St. Augustine. Mrs. Freeman died Monday after a brief illness. She was 95.

"She was the oldest of six in her family so I think she was raised to be in charge and continued that as an adult," said her daughter, Leslie Anne Freeman.

As a child, Mrs. Freeman flew kites and roller skated in Memorial Park. Concerned about its deterioration, she founded the Memorial Park Association in 1986 to restore the site and preserve its history. The park, which fronts the St. Johns River between Margaret Street and Memorial Park Drive, was dedicated in 1924 as a memorial to Florida's 1,220 World War I dead. It's also noted for its winged "Life" statue atop a globe.

Mrs. Freeman led efforts to have the sidewalks and curbing replaced and the landscaping replanted in accordance with the original 1922 design of the Olmsted Brothers, sons of famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. He designed New York's Central Park.

For Memorial's preservation, Mrs. Freeman received the Garden Club of America Historical Preservation Commendation. In addition, the association recognized her service by placing a marble bench, a copy of one of the originals, in the park.

Agnes Danciger, the association's president, praised her tenacity and said Mrs. Freeman was always there to ensure the renovations were historically correct.

"She was a lovely person in her appearance and in her manners and her approach to people," Danciger said. "She was such a grand leader ... and a good listener as well. We are all so grateful to her."

For many years, Mrs. Freeman lived in Broadview Terrace, across from Memorial Park, and it had special meaning for her, said her daughter.

"It's one of the most beautiful parks in Jacksonville, and my late husband, Judson, used to walk in the park every day," Mrs. …

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