Gerald Wayne Free, 80, of Tyler, Texas passed away peacefully while on vacation in Asheville, NC, with his loving wife of 26 years, Margie.
Gerald is survived by his small but loving family. Margie Free, his wife, resides in Tyler, Texas; daughter April Schultz and her husband Russ of Coppell, Texas; son Brent Free and his wife Rita of New Braunfels, Texas; step-son Shane Payne and his wife Ann of Tyler, Texas; Gerald’s sister Marla and her husband Joe Weinrich of Granbury, Texas and Gerald’s niece Alyson Hughes of Plano, Texas and nephew Erik Hughes.
Gerald was known as Papa or Papa G by his grandkids and he treasured the time that he got to spend with each of them. As grandkids, Morgan and Cassidy Schultz, Kaitie and Kori Free, Evan and Sarah Payne, along with his nephews and nieces children, Maura, Beau and Andrew Hughes all had the blessing of Gerald’s love and attention.
Gerald was born on July 29, 1939 in Childress, Texas to Oscar Carl and Willie Mae Free. He and his sister Marla grew up in Canyon, Texas. Gerald was the first in his family to graduate from college. He graduated from West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas with a degree in business administration.
Gerald’s life was a life of service to his God, family, country and community. In 1961, he entered the Army and served 7 years until he was honorably discharged as First Lieutenant of the 34th Armor, 4th Infantry Division at Fort Irwin, California.
After his military career was complete, Gerald returned to Amarillo, Texas to begin his life-long career in the savings and loan industry. In 1968, Gerald accepted a position as president of the Bowie Savings and Loan in Bowie, Texas, and had the distinction of being the youngest person named as a president of a saving and loan in Texas at that time. He continued his career as president of the New Braunfels Savings and Loan Association and finally as president of First Federal Savings and Loan in Tyler in 1983. He retired from the savings and loan industry in 2004.
Although Gerald valued the opportunities, relationships and wonderful employees that his business life provided him, he also valued being a part of each and every community where he lived. Gerald’s involvement in the various Rotary Clubs of Bowie, Texas, New Braunfels, Texas and Tyler, Texas, as well as his volunteer work with Lane’s Chapel food pantry and Meals on Wheels programs after his retirement, allowed him the opportunity to continue to work and help the people in his community.
Margie and Gerald were avid travelers, who had the privilege of seeing many countries around the world. During their journeys together, Gerald fulfilled his bucket list of visiting all 7 continents, with Hawaii being their annual vacation spot.
People that were fortunate enough to have met Gerald Free would say that he was a kind and considerate man. He made each person he came in contact with feel valued.
A memorial service will be held at Lanes Chapel United Methodist Church in Tyler, Texas, on Sunday, September 15, 2019 at 2:00 p.m., where he and Margie are active members. In lieu of flowers and to honor of the remarkable life Gerald lead, his family requests that memorial donations be made to Pets Fur People and the Lanes Chapel Food Pantry in Tyler, Texas.