Honorary Grandmother Embraced by OC Honorary Alumna

by Dawn Shelton (90)

Watch this year's opening chapel/convocation, with Jose Freede reciting the Pledge of Allegiance

She’s the honorary grandmother to our new president, so wouldn’t it be nice to make her an official Eagle, too? Oklahoma City philanthropist Josephine Freede will be named an honorary OC alumna at Homecoming.

Mrs. Freede’s generous support of Oklahoma Christian is reflected in our campus landscape. At 100 feet tall, the Freede Centennial Tower is a beacon that can be seen from anywhere on campus … and even for miles around.

Oklahoma Christian awarded Mrs. Freede an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree in 1995 in recognition of her lifelong commitment to improving the quality of life for Oklahoma City’s citizens, for the goodwill she has generated for OC within Oklahoma City, and for her dedication to the ideals of patriotism and responsible citizenship through her involvement with Enterprise Square, USA.

A native of Plymouth, England, Mrs. Freede’s interest in patriotism and politics was ignited when she studied for her citizenship test after she and her late husband, orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Henry J. Freede, moved to Oklahoma in the 1950s. Her association with OC dates back almost 40 years, when she hosted ladies luncheons on campus for local civic leaders. It was during that time, around 1975, when she first met Lou Phillips, the executive secretary for then-President Terry Johnson. Over the years, Mrs. Freede and Mrs. Phillips built a wonderful friendship as they supported the university they loved.

And that brings us to the story of how President John deSteiguer adopted Mrs. Freede as his honorary grandmother. We actually shouldn’t put all the details in print, but the story does involve a possible security issue when John and Alfred Branch, OC’s president in 2001-2002, tried to visit Mrs. Freede in the hospital and came upon a sign prohibiting anyone … except family … from visiting her.

That’s all we should say, except that Lou says Mrs. Freede had a good laugh about her new “grandsons.”

During deSteiguer’s inauguration on August 27, Mrs. Freede led the Pledge of Allegiance. An asterisk by her name in the program denoted her as his honorary grandmother.

Lou was named an honorary OC alumna herself in 2000. She and Mrs. Freede are sometimes mistaken for sisters, but even though they’re not family, Lou is happy they’ll soon be fellow classmates!

Fall 2012

View more stories from the Fall 2012 issue of Vision magazine.