Chilliwack Progress tips its hat to Robert Freeman

IN MEMORY: The Chilliwack Progress remembers one of its own

Robert Freeman, former reporter for the Chilliwack Progress. (Progress file photo)

He would really hate all this hullabaloo.

Our dear friend and retired colleague Robert Freeman died in August, and if there was one thing the devoted newspaperman knew it was to keep yourself out of the story. He reminded us all of this, from his long-time desk here at The Progress. He also knew the cardinal rule of not becoming the story. So, he would doubly hate the social media posts from all of us about how we will all miss him and his curmugdeonly-yet-sincere ways.

And I think he would hate us dredging up memories of his newspaper life — the one he left behind upon retirement. But we can’t help ourselves. When Freeman retired in January 2013, he left a hole in this newsroom that could never be filled.

Those who worked with him can still drum up the image of him circling in his work space. Around and around he’d walk, head down, working through a tough lead, organizing facts in his sharp and busy mind, occasionally stopping and lifting his head with an answer, or a question for one of us. If it was a good enough revelation, he’d grab his chair and type away madly.

And we knew we’d be getting a great news story for the next paper.

But he would also love to reminisce. What many readers may not realize is that even though he was living the life of his dreams with the love of his life in Ontario, Freeman was still very much a part of The Progress. He sent regular dispatches after reading controversial stories, congratulating reporters for their work, and reminding us that “sticking to the facts” will always win the day.

He reminded us of Chilliwack’s past political woes, and genuinely wanted to see stories followed through.

He was a solid and trusted reporter, and worked in journalism in the time before social media. In those days, politicians and pundits would walk into the newsroom as welcome guests. We had waiting chairs for these visitors because they were so frequent — and more often than not they were there for Freeman.

One of those frequent guests was John Les, who as mayor had a close working connection to the newsroom, and specifically to Freeman.

“Very saddened to learn of Robert’s passing,” Les wrote on Facebook. “He was a great journalist, and a good friend. Given our roles in life, our paths crossed often. I always enjoyed our interactions. He was very professional, yet at the same time very human with a warm and engaging spirit. I’d always intended to visit with him in Ontario. I know we would have had a great time catching up.”

While he bombed around in his blue Jeep, with his plaid shirts and puffy vests, it may be hard to imagine Freeman as a poetic type. But he had been to Woodstock, recited poetry, and composed lovely, long emails to colleagues across the province.

Just in February he wrote to me saying the “news hunger” never goes away, but also advised all of us to ‘just wait until the first deadline passes with nary a ripple in your cosmos!”

I only responded with a short “ha!” I assumed there would be so many more conversations. We all wish we had more with him.

Knowing you was swell.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Seniors Advocate calls for better oversight in care home industry

‘There is no financial incentive right now to be a good operator’ - Isobel Mackenzie

‘Laff’ on International Women’s Day with a lineup of female comedians in Chilliwack

All-female comedy show I Am Woman! Hear Me Laff! returns to the Chilliwack Cultural Centre

Application deadline extended for 2020 Canada Summer Jobs program

Funding is available for small businesses, not-for-profits and public sector employers to hire youth

Man, 36, identified as victim of Abbotsford’s first homicide of 2020

Body of Michael Ray Day was found on Keeping Road on Feb. 15

Last desperate call for Chilliwack Flight Fest volunteers and sponsors

Organizers say anyone who wants to help should attend March 11 volunteer drive, or it’s lights out

VIDEO: Wet’suwet’en supporters vow to keep protesting at B.C. legislature

Supporters say they will continue ongoing action to hold government accountable

VIDEO: Province promotes ‘lifting each other up’ on 13th annual Pink Shirt Day

Students, MLAs, community members gathered at B.C. Parliament Buildings Wednesday

Prepare for new coronavirus like an emergency, health minister advises

About 81,000 people around the world have now become ill with COVID-19

B.C. residents in Wet’suwet’en territory have right to police presence: Public Safety Minister

Nevertheless, Bill Blair said officials remain ‘very anxious’ for the barricades to come down

Winnipeg police investigating graffiti on RCMP and other buildings

Manitoba Justice Minister Cliff Cullen denounced the vandalism

Cypress Mountain offers free lift tickets March 13 in honour of snowboarding pioneer

Jake Burton Carpenter invented the sport of snowboarding

Trucking company fined $175K for Kootenay creek fuel spill

Decision handed down last Friday in Nelson court

White Rock man says landlord ‘threatened’ tenants for seeking cash after no heat over Christmas

Porte Realty VP says original notice was harsh and quickly replaced

Most Read