UPDATE (6:05 p.m.): Nueces County health officials said Freeman died of COVID-19 symptoms at Wednesday's city-county joint news briefing
ORIGINAL: Flour Bluff ISD officials said superintendent David Freeman died Wednesday morning.
"It is with profound sadness that we let you know Superintendent Dr. David Freeman passed away this morning," Flour Bluff ISD stated in a Facebook post. "We are heartbroken and grief-stricken over the sudden loss of our fearless leader."
According to his sister, Lori Cowan, he had been battling COVID-19 for several weeks.
He leaves behind a wife and three children.
"Although he was our superintendent, he was first and foremost a loving and devoted husband and father," the district's post continued. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Cassie, and their three children--Callie, Brock, and Jenna."
Boys & Girls Club of the Coastal Bend CEO Kim Barrientos said Freeman had served as both a board member and president for the organization. Barrientos said she remembers his kindness.
“With everything that’s going on, Dr. Freeman was always a positive happy individual and everything he did focused around kids and youth,” Barrientos said. “He was very much driven to be an advocate for those individuals and it showed in everything that he did — he was a fantastic person.”
Though Freeman had only been with Flour Bluff ISD for a little more than a year, Barrientos said the mark he would have left would have been “phenomenal.”
If Freeman did die of COVID-19 complications, Barrientos said it makes things for the Flour Bluff community even more real.
“You’re putting a face that everybody knows with something that’s going on,” she said. “The pandemic's out there. It’s real; it doesn’t discriminate against people.”
Sarah Laza is an FBISD high-school teacher who offered her condolences.
“We are all so very heartbroken for the loss of our superintendent and pray for his family, and for our community, and for our district, and that we can all heal,” she said.
Laza said the ongoing threat of COVID-19 is a difficult way for many within the community to begin the upcoming school year.
“It’s starting on a sad note and it’s starting with a lot of uncertainty and a lot of unanswered questions,” she said. “I think not just from staff and administrators, but all the way to her parents and just in general the community is grasping for answers.”
The district has school counselors available for students and faculty to talk through emotions or grief.
Former superintendent Joe Kelley will fill the position as acting superintendent until further notice.
Flour Bluff ISD Board President Shirley Thornton sent us the following response Wednesday afternoon.
"In times of sudden loss and deep sadness, it is hard to express our feelings in words. Today’s devastating news about the passing of our District’s Superintendent, Dr. David Freeman, has many of us searching for the best way to understand a loss as immense as this.
My colleagues on the Flour Bluff ISD Board of Trustees and I are also experiencing great sorrow. Our hearts are broken for his wife and children, his father and sister, extended family, and friends. We send our love and support to each of them.
Just a little over a year ago, we welcomed Dr. Freeman, his wife and children into the Hornet Family. We were excited to have him lead us to becoming a “premier” school district. His first year at the helm of FBISD did not start off smoothly. Somehow, he saw us through numerous electrical outages, AC issues, and a school closure. Despite those issues, the Board was confident in David’s leadership to ensure we continued providing a high-quality level of instruction for our students no matter what obstacles came our way. When faced with a problem, David didn’t panic. He calmly thought it through and made a decision to work on a solution. When he shared all that he went through in this process, he always ended it with a smile and the words, “It’s all good. We’ve got this.” Dr. Freeman saw each obstacle as an opportunity to shine, and he would expect that of all us right now.
The wheels Dr. Freeman set in motion will continue. The Board is working closely with our acting superintendent, Joe Kelley. He has been busy learning what David’s wishes were for the District and quickly getting up to speed to move forward. We are blessed that a man with extensive knowledge and great love of the district has agreed to carry the torch for David. We look to our students, staff, parents, and the community to help us remain on this path forward. We are focused on keeping our students’ educational success at the forefront of all we do.
These next few months will not be easy. We have many challenges to overcome. Our District will do what we have always done…persevere!
Please continue to keep Dr. Freeman’s family in your continued thoughts and prayers. The Board and District will surround his wife Cassie and their children with all the love and support they need at this time. We ask that you provide them the space and privacy they may need to grieve.
Thank you to our community for your outpouring of love and support for our District."