Byron Herbert Freeman passed away July 17, 2015, at his home near Saxapahaw, NC. The youngest of five children, Byron was born in Bethlehem, PA, to Percy Paul and Annie Lou Shouse Freeman on September 15, 1931. At age six, he and his family moved to Raleigh where he attended Raleigh public schools. He graduated from Hugh Morson High School in 1949. He then attended Shenandoah Conservatory, Winchester, VA, before joining the U.S. Marine Corps and serving in Korea during the Korean War (1951-1952). After concluding his Marine Corps service in 1954, he attended Julliard School of Music to study piano and later continued his studies at UNC Chapel Hill. While a student at UNC, he held the position of bell ringer in the UNC Bell Tower and enjoyed recounting tales of his service to the delight of his friends. For example, after UNC ended a string of losses against Virginia with a victory in Kenan Stadium, he vigorously played “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow.”
In 1958, he purchased The Carolina Coffee Shop in Chapel Hill. For more than 40 years, he served his clientele classical music and witty conversation, at times forming lines on Franklin Street to enjoy their favorites: eggs Benedict, cinnamon rolls, Belgian waffles, and the best grits in town. For decades, the Carolina Coffee Shop served as a nostalgic first stop for returning UNC alumni.
After retiring to his wooded country home in Alamance County he mirthfully called Buzzard Top, he enjoyed caring for hummingbirds, playing piano, and composing, such as setting Dorothy Parker poems to music for piano and voice.
He is predeceased by brothers Paul and James and sister June Boggs. Surviving are 3 daughters, Cassandra Consagra (John), Landreth Freeman, and Elizabeth Raines (Alex); grandchildren Alaina Consagra, Nicholas Consagra, Owen Raines, and Elenora Raines; brother Charles (Dot); former spouses, Elaine Freeman and Rosemary Claudy; and numerous nieces and nephews.
The memorial service will be held at 2:00pm, July 23rd, at University United Methodist Church, 150 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC. A reception will follow. Burial with military honors will be at a later date at Montlawn Memorial Park in Raleigh. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to: UNC Hospice, POBox 1077, Pittsboro, NC 27312: University United Methodist Church, 150 East Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514; or to a charity of your choosing.