Mar 13, 2023

In Memoriam: Kevin Freeman (1941-2023)

By USEA
Photos courtesy of USEA Archives and family of Kevin Freeman

The USEA is saddened to hear about the passing of USEA Hall of Fame member Kevin J. Freeman. According to a social media post made by Freeman's son, Kevin Freeman Jr., the Pan American Games and Olympic medalist from Portland, Oregon, passed away peacefully while surrounded by family on March 10, 2023. Funeral services will be communicated at a later date.

Freeman’s first international success came in 1963 when he won team gold and individual silver medals at the Pan American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Freeman later represented the U.S. in three Olympic competitions. He was a member of the silver medal team at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo riding Gallopade and placed 12th individually. At the following Games in 1968 in Mexico City, Freeman rode Chalan as a member of the silver medal U.S. team. At the 1972 Munich Olympics, Freeman was the highest placing American and won his third team silver medal aboard Good Mixture, also a USEA Hall of Fame inductee.

In 1991, Freeman was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. He was the organizer of the Freeman Farms Horse Trials in Oregon for many years and contributed much to the growth of the sport in Area VII.


Freeman's formal obituary is as follows:

Kevin J. Freeman
Oct. 21, 1941 - March 10, 2023

The equestrian world lost one of its most distinguished luminaries March 10, as three-time Olympian Kevin J. Freeman passed away peacefully, surrounded by his loving family, in a Portland, Oregon hospital.

Kevin, 81, represented the United States at three Olympic games and the Pan American Games, and was also a successful businessman and coach and mentor to equestrians around the world. Kevin's greatest legacy, however, is that of the large and loving family he and his wife Barrie created and nurtured during their 52-year marriage, including four children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Born in 1941 and raised in Portland, Kevin spent many of his summers at his parent's farm in Molalla. He attended St. Thomas More Catholic School in Portland and then graduated from Lincoln High School, where he met his future wife, Barrie Hallinan. He went on to earn his undergraduate degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and his MBA from Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Kevin and Barrie, who were best friends in high school, eventually married and raised their three sons (Eric, Peter, and Kevin) and daughter (Wendy) at their Portland home, Clodomir Farm.

Kevin and Barrie enjoyed meeting up regularly with their large family to share meals and a laugh, and he was always available if his children, family, or friends needed an encouraging word or any kind of help. He loved playing jokes on his children, with his mischievous side showing through as he taught them to put a cup of water above a door for maximum dousing during indoor water fights and lined them up on Christmas morning, by age, making them wait until they nearly burst before opening presents. A rabid sports fan, Kevin often attended Portland Trail Blazer games, and he and Barrie loved watching Gonzaga University basketball games (their son Kevin graduated from Gonzaga). He'd also have rousing basketball games with his children and neighborhood kids and parents.

Kevin's many storied equestrian accomplishments include winning a gold medal as part of the U.S. team that competed at the 1963 Pan-American Games in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where he also won an individual silver medal. He helped the U.S. team win silver medals in the 1964, 1968, and 1972 Olympic Games, and in 1964, he was the U.S. National Three-Day Event Champion and won the Olympic Trials in Gladstone, New Jersey. At the 1968 Olympics, Kevin demonstrated his remarkable equestrian skills, riding Chalan, whom he'd ridden only once before. Kevin capped off his Olympic career at the 1972 games, finishing 5th individually and leading the American contingent to a team silver as the highest-placed U.S. rider. He had one of only three clear rounds (no faults) in the treacherous cross-country phase, riding one of his longtime equine partners, Good Mixture.

Kevin also excelled in the equestrian disciplines of Steeplechase and Show Jumping. Showing his true excellence as an athlete, he placed third in the Maryland Hunt Cup, considered one of the most grueling steeplechase courses in the world, and also won the 1968 Iroquois Steeplechase in Tennessee, the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in 1969, and the New Jersey Hunt Cup in 1970. He then turned his attention to the sport of Show Jumping, where he competed and won at the highest levels across North America, including at the illustrious Spruce Meadows and Thunderbird show parks.

When not competing, you'd often find him coaching students, whom he carefully guided through their equestrian careers. Kevin delighted in sharing his knowledge with the hundreds of horses and riders he trained over the last 50 years at Clodomir Farm. He also hosted the Freeman Farm Horse Trials at his family's Molalla farm for several years, attracting competitors from around the country.

An all-around athlete, Kevin was a starter and varsity athlete for the 1961-62 Cornell University men's polo team and an avid skier. When he wasn't riding, you could find Freeman schussing the slopes at Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor and feeding his voracious appetite for reading and Barrie's chocolate chip cookies!

Kevin was never one to boast, but his achievements didn't go unnoticed. He was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame in 1991 and into the United States Eventing Association Hall of Fame in 2009 along with his 1972 Olympics mount, Good Mixture.

Kevin's love of family also was apparent in his highly successful business career, as he worked closely with his father, Percy, and his two brothers, Michael and Perk, to run J.A. Freeman and Son, a farm-implement manufacturing company that was based out of Portland for more than 100 years. When the family sold the business to Allied Systems Company in 2004, he and his two brothers continued working together, creating the Freeman Group, a commercial real estate company that he helped run until his death.

Kevin's loss will be deeply felt by his family, who'll lovingly remember him, including his wife, Barrie; his four children, Eric Freeman (and wife Stephanie) of Portland; Peter Freeman (and wife Anna) of Beaverton; Kevin of Christchurch, Barbados; and Wendy Freeman Gallo (and husband Edgar) of Montgomery, Texas; his brother Perk Freeman; sister Laurie Freeman; and his six grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, and dear friends. Kevin was preceded in death by his brother Michael Freeman and his parents, Percy and Rosemary O'Donnell Freeman of Portland.

Family and friends are invited to a memorial service for Kevin on March 22 at 10 am at St. Mary's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, followed by a reception. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Kevin's name to the United States Equestrian Team or to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Please sign the online guest book at www.oregonlive.com/obits

Published by The Oregonian from Mar. 17 to Mar. 19, 2023.

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