Red Tractor 06

John Anderson Freely

December 23, 1919 ~ January 17, 2021 (age 101)


John Anderson Freely, 101, of 473 Freely Road, Donalds, South Carolina, entered his heavenly home on Sunday, January 17, 2021.


John Freely was born December 23rd, 1919 at Rte.1, Hodges SC. His parents were the late James Eugene Freely and Agnes Rita Freely.  John Freely was the only child they had together.

John served in the U.S. Army and fought in WWII. He was honorably discharged from the military in 1945.

April 6, 1946, John married the love of his life, Ruth Brown Lewis and from this union nine children were born. John and Ruth Freely were married for 52 years.

John Freely worked full time in the funeral industry where he was employed as a grave digger for Parker-White Funeral Home in Ware Shoals, SC. He later retired to spend more time with his family, continue farming and attending gospel singings with his wife Ruth Freely.


John Freely was well known in the Ware Shoals community and he will be truly missed.


John leaves to cherish his loving memories, four sons, Sammy Lee Freely, of Donalds, South Carolina, Jimmy Roy Freely, of the home, Willie Lee (Dorothy Lyles) Freely, of Greenville, South Carolina and Robert Lee Freely, of Honea Path, South Carolina; four daughters, Julia Eugenia Freely Makins, of Ware Shoals, South Carolina, Johnnie Ruth (L.C.) Rice, of Greenville, South Carolina, Carrie Anna Freely (Tony) Williams, of Ware Shoals, South Carolina, and Annie Mae Freely, of the home; 16 Grandchildren; 20 Great grandchildren; 3 great-great grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, family and friends.


Interment will be 2:30 pm Thursday, January 21, 2021 at Dunn Creek Baptist Church Cemetery.

Viewing will be held from 3-7pm Wednesday, January 20, 2021 in the chapel of Robinson-Walker Funeral Service in Ware Shoals, SC.



History of John Anderson Freely


                John Freely was born December 23rd, 1919 at Rte.1, Hodges SC. His parents were the late James Eugene Freely and Agnes Rita Freely.  John Freely was the only child they had together. His parents separated when John was only 8 months old. His mother decided to give him to his grandparents, Julia Ann Lovelace and Anderson Lovelace, who adopted and raised him as their own until adulthood.

            His father, James Eugene Freely, lived in the town of Hodges until John turned 5yrs old. He moved to Philadelphia to live with relatives, but often wrote to John over the years to keep in touch. His mother, Agnes Rita Freely, moved to Durham NC and never returned or had any contact with John Freely until his 10th birthday. This was the first time he met his mother.

            Even though his parents were not involved in his early years of life, John’s grandparents were determined to make sure he got an education. The school he attended was called Will Lease, named after a well-known man from Hodges SC. The school was taught by an educated black woman named Miss Sally Hackett from Hodges SC. The school consisted of a large room fill children from the ages 6 to 18 and Classes were only taught up to a 7th grade level. John Freely said that all the black children who went to this school loved Miss Sally. She was a great storyteller and she gave the best advice about life.


            It is now 1933 and john is now 15 years old. It has been 5 years since he had any contact with either of his parents. John Freely decided to quit school and work in the cotton fields to earn more money himself and his family. John Freely said that it was more important to make a living than getting an education back in those days. He worked in the cotton fields, sawmills, and did odd jobs until he reached adulthood at the age 19.

            For entertainment and fun John Freely played weekend baseball. He played baseball for 2 to 3 yrs. The baseball team was called Tinsley’s Baseball Team, located Greenwood county. Some of the other locations the team played were, Sholas Junction, Shady Grove, Donalds, Cokesbury and Promised Land. The baseball team players were; Honey Lomax, Charles Nix, Olie Tolbert and James brown. Another one of his favorite pastimes was hanging out with his best buddy and cousin James Lomax. John said that they were raised up like brothers. They road out on the town to family gatherings and had good times at the juke joints.

            The year is now 1940 and John Freely has reached adult hood at the age 21. This was a new beginning for him because he met the love of his life, Ruth Brown Lewis. John said He knew Ruth ever since she was a little girl, because they all live together in the same Hodges area. He asked her out for the first time as they walked across the Hodges railroad tracks, and they courted for 2 years. Then suddenly John was drafted into the army. This was during WWII in 1942. He was enlisted at Fort Jackson SC for the CC training camp at the age of 23. The CC camp was a place of work and training located in Pacolet SC. He also trained in Paris Tennessee.

            The training lasted for about six months, then he got bad news. Not even after a year of training, John’s mother passed away. He did not get to come home for the funeral, because he received the letter of her death on the day of her burial. After two years and one month at the age of 25, John was finally released from the military on honorable discharge in 1945. The next year at age 26, John proposed to Ruth and they got married at the Greenwood County court house on the 6th of April 1946.


During his late 20’s to early 30’s, John and Ruth moved from one old house to another, never satisfied with any placed they lived. There were always holes in the walls and ceilings, no good running water, and not to mention they a child every year for nine years straight. So, their hands were always full!

            During John’s early 40’s. his father decided to come back after 30 years, due to bad health. But he didn’t come back empty handed. He had lots of money saved up from the big city of Philadelphia. His father used the money to buy land for himself and for John. So, thanks to great grandpa James Freely, John and Ruth finally had a nice large house and land to call their own. Plus, nine children included in the package.

            When It came to work and providing for his family, outside work was John’s specialty. John not only helped raised nine children, but he raised animals. He raised pigs, chickens, dogs to help hunt for squirrels, and a mule named Nelly to help him plow the fields. He also had a big garden full of vegetables. Then after the crops were plentiful, he would pile them up in his station wagon and went around town selling vegetables from the trunk of his car.

            John said that we were blessed because we got our meat and vegetables right off the farm. Whenever he needed other grocery items, his favorite stores to shop were Cal Robinson’s, Lee Taylor’s, and the Hall’s Stores.

            It is now the year 1970. By this time, most of the children are grown and moved out. John was 50 and ready to advance to something new in his life. He cleared off 2 acres of land and had new block house built. The house had two bathrooms, a colored TV, and a local telephone. Well how did he do it? With the help of Mr. H.O Mullinax from the Commercial Bank of Donalds SC. John always thought highly of Mr. Mullinax, he said he was the number one man if he needed money or a loan

            Around this time John decided to advance in his grocery shopping at the local Piggly Wiggly. The majority of Ware Shoal Residents shopped at Piggly Wiggly. The store was operated by Marion Carnell of Ware Shoals SC, who also our State Representative. Mr. Carnell always said that John Freely was a loyal and valued customer to him and the store. And has been for over 20 years.

            John Freely’s fulltime job was always in the funeral home business. He worked for Parker White for 10 years. John said that Mr. and Mrs. Parker White were some of the best people you could ever work for.  His job title was Grave Digger. John’s best partner and friend was Mr. Grady McGee, who passed away some years ago. John said Mr. Grady taught him everything he knew about the funeral home business. Six years later John’s father became very ill and passed away in 1976. He was buried at the Good Hope Church Cemetery.

            It is now 1980, ten years later in his 60’s. John decided to slow down with farming, peddling, and gravedigging. He spent more time with Ruth going to gospel singings every month. They saw singers like, Shirley Caesar, Norris Turner, Al Green, and Blind Boys. Around this time all the children were having children of their own. The grandchildren never seemed to stop coming.

            During the 1990s John turned 70 and retired from farming and the funeral home business, so he could stay home and take care of his wife Grandmother Ruth Freely. When Grandmother Freely became ill, John stayed by her side as her personal caretaker, for almost 10 years. He took care of her until she passed in the year of 1999 on February 14th at the age of 75.

            Six years have passed since Grandmother Ruth’s death and the year is 2005. John Freely is now 85 years old. He has 9 children, 15 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren. His favorite pastime is working in his garden. So, at the age 85 he decided to start a small garden in his back yard with the help of his grandson J.R. Freely. Together they planted his three favorite vegetables; salad, collards and tomatoes. During this time John also raised stray dogs and puppies who were abandoned on Freely road. He never turned them away. Instead he took the animals in and raised him as a part of his family. It seemed like every 3 months animals were being dropped off like a Freely Orphanage.


            12 years have passed, and it is now 2019. John Freely is now 99 years old. He is now a great-great-great grandfather with a record of 36 grands. He still gets up at 6:00 a.m., sits back in his recliner, and watches channel 4 News while he waits for breakfast to be prepared. Sometimes he sits on the porch with his 100-year-old dog Della aka Regulator. Then he comes back inside and watch his favorite tv shows like; Price is Right, Sandford and Son, and Gunsmoke.  John still love his gospel and Soul &Blues music like, Blind Boy Fuller, Tine Turner, Lena Horne and James Brown. He has retired from gardening and turned it over to his four sons. But he still gives orders on how to grow vegetables. John is a dedicated member of the Dunns Creek Baptist Church for over 40 years and is the oldest senior male. He loves to hear Pastor Davis say, “WHOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” at the end of his sermons. That’s how he knows the spirit is in the church.

            John Freely or Granddaddy will be 100 years of this year, December 23rd, 2019. We always ask John what keeps him going strong at the age of 99. He says, “By treating people right, be caring and giving to others, and living a good Christian life.” He always says the Lord’s Prayer before going to bed every night.  He also says eating a midnight snack of peanut butter crackers and Coca-Cola, and fatback meat in his vegetable is most important of all.


This is the history of John Freely

The End

Thank You








To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of John Anderson Freely, please visit our floral store.


January 21, 2021

2:30 PM
Dunn Creek Baptist Church Cemetery
621 Old Shoals Junction Road
Donalds, SC 29638

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