William Charles Freeman (Bill) passed away on Sunday, February 3 at Estia Nursing Home, Taree at 88 years of age after a three-year battle with motor neurone disease.
Bill was a resident of Wingham for 25 years of his retirement, and a long serving member of Rotary for a total of 44 years.
He had a long and outstanding career in the wool industry, having worked for Dalgetys in Newcastle from 1948 until his retirement in 1986. He was a renowned wool classer and judge, particularly in the New England region, and was instrumental int he introduction of the 'sale by description' system which revolutionised the auction process in the wool industry.
Bill joined Rotary in 1972 as the foundation president of the Rotary Club of New Lambton.
After retiring from Dalgetys in 1986 Bill and his wife Merlin (Merle) moved to a rural property at Craven, near Gloucester, and soon became a member of the Gloucester Rotary Club.
While living at Craven he was elected to the Gloucester Municipal Council where he served until moving to Wingham in 1990.
It wasn't long until Bill was invited to join the Rotary Club of Wingham where he subsequently served three terms as president in 1994/95, 1995/96 and 1999/2000.
Bill's 28 years in Wingham were crowded with numerous achievements. Always one with dogged determination and with the ability to think outside the square, he always got things done.
Some of his achievements included:
- Leading a District Group Study team to India in 1998.
- Erection of the pioneer clock in Wingham's main street in 2000.
- The establishment of the RYAG Dairy program at Wingham in 2003.
- The erection of the flag pole in Central Park.
- The restoration of the historic stables at Wingham Hotel.
- The formation of Wingham Probus Club during one of his terms as president.
Bill and Merl also hosted Rotary exchange students from Japan, South Africa and Canada.
Related content: Expanding Wingham Men's Shed
One of Bill's latest and finest achievements was the establishment of the Wingham Men's Shed at the local showground in 2009. As a major Rotary program, Bill sourced large grants to build, equip and later extend the shed. With the assistance of club members and local tradesmen it has been one of the Club's biggest achievements. Bill served as secretary for seven years and was made a life member in 2015.
Bill was awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship in 2001 and the Sapphire Pin in 2010.
Unable to continue due to poor health, Bill retired from Rotary in 2016 and 44 years of exemplary service.
Always one to lend a hand to those in need, Bill's philosophy was that it is an obligation if you live in a community to contribute to the best of your skills and ability.
Bill is survived by his wife of 38 years, Merl, and his three daughters.