The Joseph Group

A Lifetime of Service

July 5, 2024

To Inspire:

As we celebrate our nation’s birthday, I thought our readers might appreciate reflecting on the life of retired Colonel DeBow Freed, West Point Class of ’46. Many of our readers may recall I received my undergraduate degree from Ohio Northern University. Dr. Freed served as ONU’s president from 1979 to 1999. I had the pleasure of serving on the University’s Board of Trustees for 33 years; twelve of which while Dr. Freed presided at the University.

DeBow Freed and Catherine “Kitty” Freed

Dr. Freed passed away in 2020 at the age of 95. Although his ashes were interred upon his passing, a memorial service and graveside military honors were delayed until recently. I had the honor of providing a eulogy for the service at the Old Cadet Chapel on the West Point grounds.

Dr. Freed’s military career included serving in the infantry in Japan, Germany, Iran, Korea and Vietnam; serving as chief of the nuclear branch of the Defense Atomic Support Agency in New Mexico while earning advanced degrees in nuclear engineering and joining the West Point faculty to start a nuclear engineering major.

Retirement from the military led to a new career for Dr. Freed and his wife Katherine (“Kitty”). They answered a calling to serve church-based, private, higher education. That second career spanned 37 years of service to four institutions, three as president, with 20 of those years at Ohio Northern.

While touring the grounds of West Point my thoughts kept coming back to DeBow’s decision at the age of 17 to become a “leader of character” embracing “Army Values” and preparing for “a lifetime of service.” Thousands of young men and women (soldiers, faculty, students, even university trustees!) benefited from that decision and the many years of selfless service he gave to so many. I proudly count myself among that number.

The recently updated mission statement for the United States Military Academy at West Point reads as follows:

“To build, educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets to be commissioned leaders of character committed to the Army Values and ready for a lifetime of service to the Army and the Nation”

The addition of the emphasis on “service” was prompted upon the Academy’s reflection on the life and career of Dr. DeBow Freed (Col. Retired – West Point ’46).

As we celebrate our nation’s freedom, perhaps the selfless values of service to others and honor for country can inspire each of us in how we live our own lives. I hope you had a wonderful 4th!





Written by Mark Palmer, Partner and Co-Founder