William Blake Freedberg 1942-2023
William Blake Freedberg, 80, died at home on February 21, 2023. He was born November 11,1942 to Sydney J. Freedberg, with whom he shared the November 11 birthdate, and Anne Blake. He grew up in Boston, but also spent many happy summers at his mother’s old farmhouse in Essex, MA. He graduated cum laude from Harvard College in 1964.
Will then spent a decade as a researcher, starting as a research assistant in the Department of Biological Chemistry at Harvard Medical School, then as a graduate student in the Biology Department at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and finally as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics at Harvard Medical School, where he was fortunate to have the mentorship of Professor E.C.C. Lin.
In the spring of 1968 Will went to an international folk dancing session at Johns Hopkins and had the good fortune to meet Sarah Carson. They were married the following year and enjoyed 53 years together.
In 1974 Will and Sarah and their toddler daughter moved to Cincinnati where he attended the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, graduating in 1977 thanks to a U.S. Public Health Service National Health Service Corps Scholarship. He completed a residency in Internal Medicine at Cincinnati’s Jewish Hospital under the excellent mentorshlip of Dr.E.Gordon Margolin. Two more daughters were born during the Cincinnati years. In 1980 he and his family moved to southern Maryland where he practiced in a medically underserved area for three scholarship payback years at South County Family Health in West River, MD. He remained with them for two extra years as they were losing funding, working to help them remain open. While there he received a Public Health Service award for outstanding service.
In 1985 he and his family relocated to Western Massachusetts, where he practiced internal medicine, geriatrics and palliative care with the RiverBend Medical Group (formerly Medical West) until 2005, when he joined the Primary Care Associates/Geriatric Medical Associates practice in Springfield. He was on the medical staff of Baystate and Mercy Medical Centers, an assistant clinical professor with Tufts Medical School and a fellow of the American College of Physicians. He enjoyed teaching geriatric medicine to Baystate house staff at the Heritage Hall and Jewish Nursing Homes. After briefly retiring in 2015 Will returned to his profession as a consultant in Geriatric/Palliative care at Baystate until his final retirement in 2017. He considered it a great privilege to be able to practice medicine and be involved in the care of so many wonderful patients and work with so many kind health professionals, teachers and students over the years.
When not practicing medicine, Will loved to spend time with Sarah at their cabin in Chester, MA, where he was in charge of keeping the solar electricity and water working, the 1949 Farmall tractor running and the woodbox supplied with firewood. He had a deep fondness for American music, especially old time country, blues and bluegrass. Time spent with a guitar, banjo, mandolin or ukulele wherever he was brought him great happiness.
He is survived by his deeply loved wife Sarah and daughters Hannah Thomas Freedberg (Christine) of Cincinnati,OH, Rebecca Nuernberger (Matthew) of Wakefield, MA, and Sarah Samyra Freedberg of Brooklyn, NY. He is also survived by three beloved grandchildren, Theodore and Eleanor Nuernberger, and William Thomas-Freedberg. He was predeceased by his parents and a half sister, Kate P. Freedberg. He leaves two half brothers, Nathaniel D. Freedberg (Molly Magill) of Allston, MA and Sydney Freedberg, Jr.(Martha Young), and niece Madeleine and nephew Nathaniel of Washington, D.C. He was deeply thankful to all his family for the support they gave him over the years.
Will’s family is very grateful to the many health care providers at the end of his life, especially the Cooley Dickinson Hospital and its VNA/Hospice Departments. Memorial arrangements will be private. Donations may be made to a charity of your choosing, but consider the Springfield Community Music School, or the Northampton Community Music center, as well as Doctors without Borders and Partners in Health.
Williamsburg Funeral Home was entrusted with his care.