Elsie Lois Freeman, born Feb. 2, 1915 in Pocola, Okla., died March 2, 2008 at Rim Country Health and Retirement Community. She was born in the Choctaw Nation, eight years after Oklahoma became a state, to Eric O. and Gatha Gregory, the eldest of five children. Her father, paternal grandparents and great-grandparents were all original enrollees on the Dawe's Rolls.
She is survived by her sister, Esta Alice Pipkins and her uncle, Edgar Gregory of Pocola, Okla.; children, Lola Crane, Retha Hudgens, Mary Shepherd and Evelyn Wilkerson, all of Payson, Ariz.; daughter-in-law, Patricia Freeman of Sedona; sons-in-law, Terry Hudgens and Kim Wilkersons; 16 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by her husband Ruben Freeman and son Paul Freeman of Sedona.
Mrs. Freeman was a longtime resident of Payson. The family first bought property in Whispering Pines, on Apple Lane, in 1958. She and her husband retired to their home on the East Verde River in 1972. In 1976, they sold the river property and relocated to town, residing on Easy Street until 1991.
She was very active in the First Southern Baptist Church of Payson, and was particularly valued by the church for her work with the food and visitation ministries. Mrs. Freeman always stayed busy taking art classes in drawing and china painting and teaching her numerous grandchildren to paint, sew, cook, sing and enjoy life to the fullest.
Her life in Christ and joy will be celebrated at 10:30 a.m., Saturday, March 8, 2008. Services and lunch will be held at First Southern Baptist Church, 302 S. Ash Street, corner of Bonita and Ash Street. A viewing will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 7 at Messinger Funeral Home on West Aero Drive.