Cleona ‘Geraldine’ Freeman

Cleona “Geraldine” Freeman, 88, of Pleasant Hill, Ill., died Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, at Illini Community Hospital in Pittsfield.

Geraldine was born in Belleview Dec. 5, 1932, to Oscar “Jake” Joseph and Flossie Rachel Mary Jane Mathilda Gates Martin. She married John Claude “J.C.” Freeman on Aug. 31, 1952, and he died earlier on May 1, 1975.

Early in life, she worked at Stark Bros. Nursery in Louisiana, Mo., the Pleasant Hill Garment Factory, then was a homemaker and stay-at-home mom. During this time, Geraldine gardened, canned and mowed her yard. Soon after J.C. died, relying on her faith to support her and her family, she obtained a driver’s license at age 42, challenged the State of Illinois to obtain a GED and passed without even taking one class. She then put herself through nursing school, of which she graduated one of the top-five of her class at Hannibal-LaGrange School of Nursing in Hannibal, Mo. Geraldine’s nursing career began with her employment at Eastside Nursing Home in Pittsfield, Maple Grove Lodge in Louisiana, Mo., starting as an LPN, then advanced to nurses administrator for four years before the nursing home was sold. Then, after a 34-plus years of a nursing career at Pike County Memorial Hospital, she retired. She then volunteered and continued to serve as a pink lady and greeter, welcoming former patients, workers, and families until she had to retire because of mobility deterioration.

During her life, she was a longtime faithful member of the Pleasant Hill Christian Church.

Geraldine is survived by a daughter, Kristine C. Freeman of Pleasant Hill, a granddaughter, Jessica D. McChristian (the boyfriend, Jeremiah Spriggs), of Pleasant Hill, two grandsons, Christopher J. Freeman of Louisiana, Mo., and Braden Barnes, who nicknamed her “Old 99,” and one great grandson, Jaxon Jay of Pleasant Hill, a sister-in-law, Ann Martin of Wenona, two special cousins, Leta Prater of Pleasant Hill and Ruth Crowder of Nebo, a long-time special friend and co-volunteer, Vickie of Louisiana, Mo., and numerous cousins, nieces ,nephews and many friends.

Her parents, husband, father and mother-in-law, a son, Stephen Jay Freeman, a daughter-in-law, Marilyn, a grandson, Stephen Jay Freeman, II, who died at age 10 from cystic fibrosis, a sister and brother-in-law, Amelia Maxine and George Minor and a brother, Russell “Red” Martin, all died earlier.

During her long, faithful struggles in life, Geraldine relied upon God for wisdom and strength. She enjoyed watching hummingbirds, flower and vegetable gardening, canning to preserve what she grew, spending time with and reading to Jaxon. Early every morning, as the light poured in through her kitchen window, you could find her seated at her kitchen table drinking coffee, praying and reading her Christian devotions. One could always find love in her heart, food if you were hungry (earning her the nickname from loved ones as “Cheeseburger Gert”), prayers and support when necessary and you always left feeling welcome. Geraldine never knew a stranger and helped any one in need, in any way she could. She was a friend to all and will definitely be missed by everyone who knew her.

John 16:22 – So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

Services will be held Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 at 2 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Christian Church. Burial will follow at Crescent Heights Cemetery in Pleasant Hill. Visitation will be Thursday at the church from noon until time of service.

Memorials may be made to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Lummis Funeral Home in Pleasant Hill is handling the arrangements.

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