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Elaine Freeman

April 3, 2019 - Posted in Women Vision SC by Linda O'Bryon

Founder, ETV Endowment
Executive Producer, South Carolinians in WW II

Elaine Freeman founded the ETV Endowment from her dining room table. For over 40 years, the member organization has funded and supported programming on SCETV and South Carolina Public Radio. Freeman retired In 2008, after 31 years as executive director, but still remains active in support of programs such as South Carolinians in World War II and the Man and Moment series. Freeman is also a major force in the Spartanburg community.  She headed the fundraising campaign for the Charles Lea Center board.  Her vision helped establish the Ellen Hines Smith Girls’ Home, later merged as part of the Hope Center for Children.  She believes there is a plan for your life.  “With a little help from your family and friends, and the stewards you know, you can try to make your life count for something.  I’m an octogenarian now and I’ve had a whole lot of fun with a lot of friends.”

Her advice to young people: “Watch the people around you who are successful.  Try to learn from them.  Try to become part of their team.  Find a goal you want to accomplish.  That makes your life fulfilled and happy. And don’t lose as much sleep as I have done at raising money!” 

About the Honoree

The decades have flown by since meeting Bobby Freeman at a Wellesley College mixer when a horde of MIT fellows appeared on the scene.  We were married in 1958 and Spartanburg became my lifelong home.  Like many women then, teaching became a profession before motherhood, English at the departed Jenkins Jr. High, at Spartanburg High, and French at Evans Jr. High, a system headed by the late Dr. McCracken.

The raising of three children, Heather, Rob and Ian, followed with voluntarism a second focus and great learning opportunity. This community is a most caring and dedicated group of citizens.  I feel so fortunate to have landed here. I became a member of the Charles Lea Center board, after some years of work on mental health issues.  It was my privilege to head the fundraising campaign for the campus and first buildings, with that dedicated group of selfless citizens.  They merged several separate boards, willingly, to become one strong entity.  They taught me so much and equipped me for what followed, decades voluntarily and professionally of meeting educational needs, through state commissions, sustaining trusteeship on the Spartanburg Day School board, membership on the President’s Committee for Employment of the Handicapped and then the founding of the ETV Endowment of South Carolina, as a volunteer executive director, on my dining room table.

This public charity provides the funds for production and purchase of the television and radio Public Broadcasting programs that are the mission of the South Carolina ETV Network. For 34 years I had the challenge, pleasure and great fulfillment of leading this entity professionally with a consistently supportive and brilliant board.  After my retirement in 2008, my successor, the able and talented Coby Hennecy, has allowed me to continue executive producer status.

Along the way, I lost my great golfer husband and learned that I could not putt without him. That was in 1997.  After a dozen years as executive producer for NPR’s “Marian McPartland’s” Piano Jazz,” she too passed away, but work has continued with a series on South Carolinians in WWII and now on the Vietnam War.  This involvement has been eye-opening, when one realizes the extent of sacrifice young men and their families have made, losing a whole future of life and fulfillment, in order to protect our country and freedom world wide.

The series has led me to voluntary involvement, under the leadership of Darwin Simpson, with the planned National Medal of Honor Society Museum. Now I am in that autumn of life about which baritones sing, but family, my fox terrier, dear friends and a lively voluntary life make me happy to rise each morning. 

I have learned that you never stop learning and that the secret of succeeding when you tackle a problem is teamwork, from the training that I received in the Junior League locally and nationally, from the Charles Lea Center experience and from the many mentors who have made my life a rich and fulfilling one.  There is great joy in sharing and seeking to make a vision come true.  I am also a lifelong Presbyterian and feel that God has a plan for your life.  You have an ability to miss that plan.  With the help of so many stewards, it may be possible to attain that too.

About Women Vision SC

Women Vision SC is a program that focuses on issues affecting women throughout the state and the nation and a new generation of young people pursuing public service for their communities and the state at large. The program is produced and hosted by former SCETV president Linda O’Bryon.

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