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Margaret Freede’s Giving Nature

Honoring a legacy of education and care at Oklahoma City University

by Matt Burkholder

Margaret Freede (’84, ’98) speaks to nursing students about careers during a recent lunch and learn.

Margaret Freede believes in the power of education and that belief is underscored by her achievements in both health care and law. She has been dedicated to lifelong learning, obtaining multiple degrees and always seeking to expand her knowledge and experience. Growing up in Oklahoma City, she started with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, where she worked as a labor and delivery nurse for several years. She then returned to college and earned both her MBA in health care administration and Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University. After practicing law for several years, Freede returned to the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing, where she earned her Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.

Freede’s passion for health care led her to start and manage several clinical trial sites in Oklahoma City, partnering with major pharmaceutical companies to offer gastroenterology patients with autoimmune disease access to new medications available through clinical trials. Her contributions in advancing treatments for patients with chronic illnesses have been invaluable.

But Freede’s contributions go beyond health care. Her belief in the power of education and philanthropy led her to establish two professorships, one in the Wanda L. Bass School of Music and the other in the Kramer School of Nursing. These gifts honor and build upon the legacy of philanthropy of her beloved family, and reflect Freede’s own commitment to supporting faculty and providing students an exceptional education. The Wanda L. Bass School of Music and the Kramer School of Nursing are both vital components of the university, and these professorships will help attract and retain top talent in these fields. As Ken Evans, president of Oklahoma City University, noted, “Dr. Margaret Freede’s unwavering commitment to philanthropy has not only helped shape the culture at OCU, but will also play a crucial role in attracting and retaining the best faculty from around the country.”

Named to honor both her mother and recently departed sister, the Josephine Wyndham, Margaret Wyndham and Catherine Annette Freede Professorship in Gerontology was established to celebrate the legacy of the Freede family’s work to advance health care in Oklahoma. The professorship celebrates all three Freede women; Margaret, her mother Josephine (Josie), and sister Catherine, and their work in health professions. Josie received her Charter Society in Physiotherapy degree before training at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopedic Hospital in England. It was at the hospital where she met her husband, Henry, an orthopedic surgeon. Catherine Annette Freede was a registered nurse and physician assistant who worked as an orthopedic surgical nurse alongside her father, Dr. Henry Freede, for almost 50 years. She earned her BSN from the University of Oklahoma College of Nursing and later received her physician assistant degree from the College of Allied Health at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center. Catherine Freede’s sudden passing in the fall of 2022, makes this gift all the more poignant, and her memory will be forever honored with the establishment of this professorship.

The gift to the Wanda L. Bass School of Music is equally significant, specifically honoring Josie’s love for and generous support of the arts, including music. The Josephine Freede Endowed Professorship in Instrumental Music will support the training and education of future music educators, allowing them to share their talents with the students at OCU.

“This gift furthers the passions of one of our most beloved benefactors in OCU’s history,” said Mark Parker, dean of the Bass School of Music. “Josie was born and raised in England, where classical music was an important element of her culture,” said Margaret Freede. Upon Josie’s arrival in Oklahoma City, she began her civic work on the boards of many organizations including the Oklahoma City Charity Horse Show, Allied Arts, Oklahoma City Republican Women’s Club, and served as president of the University of Oklahoma Mothers’ Association. Josie Freede also was a member of the Downtown Oklahoma City YWCA and the Western Heritage Awards Committee and soon became known as “the million-dollar volunteer.” Her work as a fundraiser made possible the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center at OCU and the Freede Theatre at the Civic Center Music Hall. Josie Freede received numerous awards and recognitions, including two honorary doctoral degrees. Margaret Freede continues, “She was also a classically trained pianist. She understood the inspirational and artistic value of classical music as well as its ability to enrich the lives of everyone who heard it.” Josephine Freede passed away at the age of 93 on September 3, 2020, after a short illness.

“As we look to the future, we can take inspiration from the Freede family’s example and recognize the importance of philanthropy and giving back,” said President Evans. “Margaret Freede’s gifts to support professorships at Oklahoma City University are a demonstration to her commitment to healthcare. Her gifts will make a lasting impact and will help shape the future of Oklahoma City University for generations to come.”

Evans added, “Her generosity is a testament to the power of giving, and her legacy will continue to inspire generations of students, educators and researchers to come.” The contributions of Margaret Freede and the Freede family remind all of the power of giving and the importance of supporting the institutions and causes that make
a positive difference in our world.

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