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Longtime APSU supporter Perkins Freeman gives Austin Peay the roof over his head

Hes passionate about helping young people who need financial assistance to get an education. He understands their plight. Hes been there.

Perkins Freeman, one of Austin Peays most ardent supporters, has found another way to ensure he can continue funding academic scholarships for generations to come, not just at APSU, but for two other schools important to himCumberland University, Lebanon, and David Lipscomb, Nashville.
He's passionate about helping young people who need financial assistance to get an education. He understands their plight. He's been there.

Perkins Freeman, one of Austin Peay's most ardent supporters, has found another way to ensure he can continue funding academic scholarships for generations to come, not just at APSU, but for two other schools important to himCumberland University, Lebanon, and David Lipscomb, Nashville.

Freeman recently transferred his nearly 3,000-square-foot home and property to APSU with the stipulation that, at his death, it be sold and the proceeds used to endow two scholarships. With this action, Freeman will have established many endowed scholarships at APSU.

Located in Wingate near the Swan Lake Golf Course, Freeman's ranch-style home has four bedrooms, three baths, formal living and dining rooms, family room with fireplace, concrete patio, kitchen adjacent to a spacious mud room and a large bonus room over the two-car garage. The brick home sits on an acre of manicured lawn with large shade trees.

Freeman has lived in the home since 1981, most of that time with his wife Ruth, who passed away in 2002. Their daughter, Cindy Meise, a 1973 graduate of APSU, is the music teacher and acclaimed choral director for Dickson County High School.

Although Freeman wants his daughter to inherit family heirlooms, he says she supports his wish to leave her childhood home to her alma mater, as does her husband, Michael, who also is an Austin Peay alumnus.

Freeman, who is known throughout the region for his friendliness and zest for life, made his money the old-fashioned waythrough hard work. One of 15 children, he was born in 1919 on a farm near Gallatin.

Even as a boy, he valued higher education, but his family was unable to send him, so he paid for his freshman year at Lipscomb by scrubbing dorm floors. After that, he attended Cumberland University, where he earned tuition, room and board by waiting on tables three times a day, seven days a week.

When the first military draft occurred in 1940, Freeman was too young to enlist. He needed a job and heard that Southern Bell, Nashville, might be hiring. He went immediately to the Nashville office to apply for a jobonly to be told to come back the next day.

He was on the Bell's doorstep bright and early the next morning. Again, he was told to come back. Respectfully but with determination, Freeman said, “Sir, I'll be here every morning until you hire me.”

Liking the persistence he saw in the young Freeman, the manager told him to report to a telephone crew working near Gallatin. For a year, Freeman dug holes and set telephone poles for Southern Bellat 30 cents an hour.

After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Freeman left his job to volunteer for the U.S. Navy. The Navy sent him to radio school and, a year later, he was deployed to the South Pacific for two years.

When the war ended in October 1945, Freeman was discharged, and a month later on
Dec. 1, 1945, he rejoined Southern Bell.

After 42 years of service with the company, Freeman retired in 1981. Throughout his career, regardless of where his work took him, he became a respected, hard-working community leader.

In recognition of his service to the community, Clarksville Mayor Don Trotter designated Dec. 20, 1995, as “Perkins Freeman Appreciation Day.”

Freeman is one of the Austin Peay's most ardent supporters and, in recognition of his support and advocacy on behalf of the University, he received the APSU Outstanding Service Award for 2003. He is member of the Tower Club, Foundation Board of Trustees and President's Circle of Advisers. Ultimately, he will have established several scholarship endowments at APSU:

1. To honor his daughter, Freeman will have given $75,000 to endow the Freeman-Meise Scholarship, which is designated for music students from Montgomery, Dickson and Robertson counties.

2. A longtime member and past president of the Governors Club, Freeman sponsors the Governors Club/Perkins Freeman Academic Achievement Award. From the $50,000 given or raised by Freeman, a $1,000 award is presented annually to a top student-athlete.

3. The Perkins Freeman Scholarship will be designated for students from Montgomery and Robertson counties, where he and his family lived.

In recognition of his strong support of APSU athletics, on Feb. 17, 2004, Freeman was one of only four people tapped for APSU's elite Red Coat Society. Dr. Sherry Hoppe said, “I was delighted when he was named to the Red Coat Society.

“Getting to know Perkins Freeman has been one of my greatest joys. He is a dear friend to meand to Austin Peay. When a man literally gives you the roof over his head, you know you've met a rare individual.

“That's what Perkins did: He gave Austin Peay his home and land. His thoughtfulness and generosity will enable hundreds of students to attend Austin Peay. What a wonderful legacy.”
—Dennie Burke