Obituary: Richard Freed

freed-SQArchitect Richard Freed, a resident of Woodstock since 1997, died on May 28th at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Mr. Freed was 88.

Richard was born in Quakertown, Pennsylvania on May 27, 1927. Following Naval service at the close of World War II, he attended Franklin and Marshall College, and went on to take a degree in architecture at Cooper Union. He began his practice at Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in New York City. During the course of his career he worked with other firms in New York, Chicago, Pittsburgh, and internationally.

Richard Freed was a man of extraordinary hunger for  knowledge, possessed of lifelong enthusiasm and curiosity. Although his degree at Cooper was in architecture, painting was his passion. Nature and natural landscapes could move him to tears, and were his frequent subjects. Animals were his soul-mates and his households always contained at least one four-footed member. He was also very competent, tough, and loved wild weather, carpentry and everything involving large power tools. In spite of an innate shyness and affability, he was occasionally formidable and fierce.


In the course of an unusual and sometimes turbulent life, Richard’s temperament led him in and out of marriages and relationships and on a life-long spiritual quest that led him to Ashrams everywhere from the Catskills to India. He lived for a time in Israel, while working as a field architect for Louis Berger International. He was capable of grand quests, and the wild 1960s and 70s left their marks upon his life. But eventually, his innate homing instincts led him back into a more reasonable accommodation with life, and he settled in as campus architect for Albert Einstein College of Medicine where he worked till he retired.

He moved to Woodstock in 1997 and fell in love with the town and the farmhouse next to the art school that had belonged to painter Daniel Revzan. He spent very happy years studying at the Woodstock School of Art, and cultivating his rural property.

Richard was a man of ethics and tremendous  generosity. He struggled at times with creative self-doubt, especially as he committed himself more deeply to his painting.  He was able to appreciate originality in the arts. He was a great supporter of artists, and understood the cost of the discipline.

His heart and compassion grew with age. In recent years he comforted people in extreme situations, and strove to heal relationships with his family. He did indeed journey spiritually. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Lyme’s disease in 2014. He fought valiantly and futilely to hold onto his mind and the life he loved. When it became impossible for him to remain in his beloved house, he was moved in March to be in San Francisco near his daughter.

Yet, when asked the week before he died,  if he could recall how he used to recite from “Paradise Lost” he said “Sure.” And performed for one last time his old parlor trick.

“Him the immortal power hurled headlong flaming from the imperial sky  — “ and  he commenced with perfect recall to deliver his favorite passages from Milton’s celestial epic.

Richard left behind a family that dearly loved him, and will sorely miss him. He is survived by his daughter Amy Freed, and his sons Christopher Freed and Doron Nissim, and nieces Kathleen Freed and Ellen Ford.