Harold M. Freeman1889-1985
Harold M. Freeman was an American success story, born to immigrant parents in 1889, and raised in Seguin with his two brothers, Joe and Clarence. “Mr. Harry” was a driving force in Texas business and agriculture for much of the 20th Century, and his legacy of philanthropy continues to this day.
Harry and Joe got an early start in business by working in the family’s general store in Seguin, primarily supplying farmers and ranchers. After their father’s death in 1906, they grew the family business to include Chevrolet dealerships, cotton, real estate and ranching.
The Freeman brothers were also instrumental in the development of the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, and were key players in the 1947 construction of the Bexar county Coliseum, which was renamed to honor Joe after his death in 1971, and Harry in 1985. It is known today as the Joe and Harry Freeman Coliseum.
Since its inception, the Stock Show and Rodeo has raised and donated more than $210 million to Texas youth involved in agriculture, with much of that money raised at junior livestock auctions during the exposition. In fact, Mr. Harry was known to overbid for animals to help junior ranchers raise money for their education. This accounts for the unusual mix of animals on the Freeman Ranch from the 1950’s through the 80’s.
In 1977, Mr. Harry was named the Man of the Year by the San Antonio chapter of the March of Dimes. At the time, they noted his involvement with many charities, including a school for children with developmental disabilities, another for children in crisis, and his endowment of a chair for heart research at the University of Texas Medical School. All of these endeavors, and others, continue to this day.
In 1981, Harry made perhaps his greatest commitment to Texas agricultural education by bequeathing the 3,500 acre Freeman Ranch to Texas State University. Held in a perpetual trust by the Harold M. Freeman Educational Foundation, the University is to use the property for “farm, ranch, game management, educational and experimental purposes.”
Fourteen years after Mr. Harry’s death, in 1999, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo Hall of Fame was founded. Joe and Harry Freeman were the first inductees. Mr. Harry may have passed, but his good deeds live on.