Obituaries detail

John Richard Freeman

John Richard Freeman, 75, passed away Nov. 4, 2019. He was born in Kansas City, MO, where he graduated from Southeast High School in 1962 and attended KC Junior College. He served 3 years in the army stationed in Germany from 1964-67. After marrying his wife, Phyllis, they moved to Olathe, KS, so he could attend Baker University.  In 1971, he began teaching English in Olathe at Millbrooke Jr. High School, then Oregon Trail Jr. High during which time he got his Master’s degree in administration from the University of Kansas.  John began a 4 year sponsorship of the class of ’81 and followed them to Olathe High School where he taught English until 1981 and then served as an administrator for 5 years before returning to the teaching that he loved.  He retired from Olathe East in 2008 after teaching 12 years there and serving as announcer for soccer games, an activity which he thoroughly enjoyed.


In retirement, John relished spending time with family and grandchildren as well as keeping up with students and teachers at OE by substituting between the many trips that he and Phyllis took.  John was a voracious reader of a variety of genres. His dry sense of humor and huge vocabulary kept people entertained.  If someone missed the many puns or jokes, he’d say, “I AM funny, you know.”


John was preceded in death by his parents, John and Rosa Freeman.  Besides his 102 year old aunt, Nora Leesley, in Mesa, AZ, he is survived by Phyllis, his wife of 51 years, his son Bryan (Nerissa) of Yuma, AZ, his daughter Karen Keenan (Chris) of Overland Park, and 6 grandchildren: Luke, Giada, Emily, and Max Freeman; and Ben and Jonathan Keenan. 


John’s memorial service will be Friday at 2:00 in Wesley Chapel at Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, KS, where he has been a member since 2000.

Additional Service:
Memorial Service
Church of the Resurrection, Wesley Chapel
13720 Roe Ave.
Zip Code:
Date of Service:
Nov 08 ,2019
Time of Service:
2:00 pm
Additional Information:
No Additional Information Added
Google Map:


nancy tjaden Nov 06 ,2019

fellow teacher ,Leawood ,Kansas

I taught with John at East and still teach here. I am one of the few originals left. John also subbed for me quite a bit. He was so beloved by his students and faculty. I am sure his family knows that. I will keep you all in my prayers. I know he is in heaven smiling down at you. Nancy Tjaden

Eric Nov 06 ,2019

friend/colleague ,Olathe ,Kansas

John Freeman was a wonderful colleague of mine during my 18 years at Olathe East. We had so many wonderfully rich conversations. I loved his wit and his wisdom. John was such a wonderfully gifted teacher for the "underdogs". He had a gift to help those struggling students navigate their way through high school. Were it not for John and his loving empathy, many kids would not have found their way across the stage on Graduation Day. My heart is heavy, yet I know John is still creating puns among the stars and the universe. I love you, buddy! Eric

Rob Nov 06 ,2019

Former student ,Olathe ,Kansas

Mr. Freeman was a great teacher and person. Always enjoyed his English class and his humor. My condolences to his family.

Lauri Orscheln Nov 06 ,2019

One of Mr. Freeman's favorite students.(At least in my mind) ,OLATHE ,Kansas

Dear Phyllis, Brian, Karen and your families. I am so sorry to hear about Johns passing. You guys had to share him with so many other kids. I am grateful that you did. He was truly one of a kind. If you were lucky enough to be in his class you knew you were special. He made such a difference in Olathe. There are so many Mr. Freeman stories to tell. And most of them started out with him sharing about the three of you. He loved you so. I am sure the he and my dad are up to something ornery up there in Heaven. Just like the old days in the Teachers Lounge. Love Lauri Smith Orscheln

Terri Luetjen Nov 06 ,2019

Phyllis, I am praying for you and your family. I will be unable to attend the service on Friday, but will be thinking of all of you. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you. Take care of yourself. See you at bells. Terri

Kathy Harbour Nov 06 ,2019

Co-worketr ,Scottsdale ,Arizona

John was a great colleague of mine while working at Olathe North and Olathe East. Many fond and funny memories that we shared. My thoughts and prayers go to Phyllis, Brian and Karen.

Deborah Gibbons Nov 06 ,2019

Friend ,Olathe ,Kansas

Our deepest condolences to you and your family. May God wrap His arms of peace and comfort around all of you.

Laura Cheshire Brady Nov 06 ,2019

Former student ,Gilbert ,Arizona

Mr Freeman was always looking out for all of his students. He was such a bright part of my school day. He liked to tease me that I was his long lost daughter. He always had a quick smile and an encouraging word. Thanks to his family for sharing him with so many students over the years.

Sherrie Hanson Nov 06 ,2019

Friend ,Olathe ,Kansas

Phylis and family, My heart is heavy thinking about this world without John. He was such a great friend to Dick. I’m so sorry the loss of this wonderful man. Much love, Sherrie Hanson

LuAnn Fox Nov 07 ,2019

colleague, friend ,Kansas City ,Missouri

I have sat with this information about his passing heavily this week. I've thought about this world without him, and I wish my friend was still here, advising me, listening to me, making me laugh at the bad bad puns and jokes, talking books, and loving me. He is one of the best friends I've ever had. His grace and wit and singular way of being on the world will always be with me.

DAVE GOMEZ Nov 07 ,2019


John was such a wonderful friend. We will always cherish the memories of the good times spent together. Being neighbors for nearly 30 years, we always had lots to talk about. John and Phyllis were very special to us. May God bless and comfort all the members of their family.

Jim McMullen Nov 07 ,2019

Former student and colleague ,OLATHE ,Kansas

Mr. Freeman was one of my all-time favorites. He was always a kind, caring man who treated everyone with respect. His love for teaching and soccer were evident throughout his career, and into retirement. Our community just lost one of our best... Prayers and blessings to the family- Jimmy McMullen ONHS, '89

Paula and Randy Dix Nov 08 ,2019

Fellow Educators ONHS Prairie Center Elem. ,Olathe ,Kansas

So sorry to hear about John. Our Prayers are with you.

Jim Mowry Nov 10 ,2019

co-worker ,Olathe ,Kansas

So sorry to hear of John's passing. Personally, John was a very loyal friend to Ruth Ann and I. Professionally, John was a great advocate for students for whom school was difficult. Our condolences to to Phyllis and family.

Kelly Steinle Nov 10 ,2019

Former Student ,Olathe ,Kansas

Dear Mrs. Freeman, I am so so sad to hear of Mr. Freeman’s passing. The two of you are two of my favorite teachers. I have only positive and fond memories of you both. I will always remember Mr. Freeman’s gentle and kind tone, subtle and intelligent sense of humor and kind, caring heart. I’m so thankful to have known him, even in such a small capacity as a student. He made a difference, and so do you. I just now came across the news of his passing. I’m sorry I found out about it after the service. Praying for peace and comfort for you. Sincerely, Kelly Steinle (Kelly Selders, from Pioneer Trail and Olathe East)

Josie Nov 14 ,2019

co-worker ,Spring Hill ,Kansas

I always enjoyed seeing John in the hallways at school. I recall, on the rare occasion I was here before 7 AM, running into John in the copy room. He was definitely more of a morning person that I was. :) Running into him always put a smile on my face and I have enjoyed the occasional treat of seeing him in the hallways at OE when he was substituting. The office ladies loved John as he went out of his way to brighten their day. John is already missed in the hallways of OE. My sincerest condolences, Josie Stiles

Colleen Rector Nov 25 ,2019

My father passed away during my junior year at Olathe North. Mr. Freeman was so supportive of our family and came to all my classes to let my teachers know of our loss. He was with me the whole time along with Ralph Dennis. He has touched many lives.

Jerry Davey / Mary Fok Dec 31 ,2019

friend ,Vancouver

our thoughts are with you, Phyllis, as well as our fond memories of the holiday we had together with you and John to Peru and the Galapagos