Mark N. Freeman Jr., life-long rancher, former 1st lieutenant in the USMC, Osage Tribal Councilman and Osage Nation Congressman, died on Jan. 4th in his home in Pawhuska, Okla., surrounded by family and loved ones. He is survived by his wife Eleanor J. Freeman and his children; Mark Freeman III, Linda Cassity, Becky Leonard, Frank Freeman, Susan Bussey, Teresa Meade, Kay Swanson, Michelle Free, Celeste Davis, Cheri Gillespie; along with dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Mark was born on Sept. 16, 1920 in Ponca City, Okla., to Mark and Grace Freeman and was raised on his family’s farm. He graduated from Ponca City High School in 1938 and graduated from Northern Oklahoma Junior College in 1940. Mark attended the University of Oklahoma for one semester and enlisted in the United States Marine Air Corps in 1942 after hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was enlisted as a US Naval Air Cadet and in 1943 was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and served as the personal navigator to General Nutsy Moore in the Pacific Theater, reaching the position of Executive Officer in the 2nd Marine Air Wing. He received his Pilots Wings in August of 1945 and held the rank of 1st Lieutenant. This year, the Hominy War Mothers honored Mark at their annual Veterans Day Dance.
After his time in the Service, Mark returned to Oklahoma to resume ranching in northern Osage County. He established his own ranch and over decades assembled what is widely known today as the Freeman Ranch. Mark continued to manage and operate the ranch until the age of 90 and was still riding horseback until his retirement. In March of 2014, Mark and his beloved wife Eleanor donated the 9,000 acre Freeman Ranch to the Osage Nation Foundation.
In 2002, Mark was elected to the 31st Osage Tribal Council and in 2006 was elected to the First Osage Nation Congress. Mark was a leader in initiating the landmark tribal government reform that now enables all Osage members a voice in their government.
Mark served as a member of the Federal Land Bank Board for 24 years and was a member of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church of Pawhuska. He was a member of the Pawhuska War Dance Committee and a strong advocate for preserving the Osage language and culture.
Mark Freeman Jr. is loved and adored by many and will be missed.
Rosary will be recited Tuesday, Jan. 6, at 7 p.m., at the Indian Camp Chapel. Traditional Indian services will be held Wednesday, Jan. 7, at 8 a.m., also at the Chapel with Eddy Red Eagle officiating. Mass will follow at 10 a.m. at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. Father Chris Daigle will officiate. Interment will be in the Pawhuska City Cemetery. Military honors will be provided by the American Legion Post 198.
McCartney’s Johnson Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.