I met Frank Freeman in 1997, the first year I was at Apple. He was working as an IT contractor, and was so proud to be working there. He had a lot of respect for Apple, though this changed when he was summarily fired without cause. What I struck me at first meeting was his incredible warmth and generosity. I felt like we’d been friends for years after only knowing each other a week. Meeting him was a salve to my soul.
A month before we’d met, the love of my life, who’d lived with me for 9 years, had moved in with someone else. At Apple, I’d close my door and write documentation between sobs. Frank could tell I was pretty broken up. Like a pet that intuitively knows when you’re sad and sits on your lap, he would put his arm around me and give me a hug. We used to go on walks together. I remember us walking through an orchard near my house, and both watching in wonder as a hare with telescopic ears darted through plowed up dirt. He would call me Beep Beep, aka Roadrunner, as I tend to walk faster than most, even those like Frank whose legs came up to my eyebrows. He helped me network my home computers, gave me ethernet cables and software, and on a few occasion stayed up all night setting up my computer. For years I treasured a lovely green glazed pot plant that he’d given me. That’s how Frank was. He loved to surprise people.
I remember how happy he was when he met Arlene, and his excitement at telling me they were getting married. I was honored to be invited to the wedding, and struck by his elegance in clan tartan and Scottish regalia. I loved the strains of bagpipe echoing through the historical armory. On another occasion, I had a futon custom made at Dream Sweet in Santa Cruz with wool batting and natural cotton. He loved it and told me that if I ever got rid of it he’d buy it, and that if he ever got rid of it I could have it back. When I moved back to my childhood home and needed to downsize, he took it off my hands. He and Arlene slept on it for 16 years, and he would let me sit on it when I’d visit their Trotter Drive house in Vallejo.
I regret the many years that passed between visits. In 2008, I reached out to Frank for support after a serious car accident that had shattered my ankle. He responded that he wasn’t doing well and couldn’t leave the house much anymore. Upon hearing this I resolved to visit as soon as I could drive again. But relearning how to walk took more energy than I anticipated, and again a few years went by. A year ago, he reached out to me, telling me he was getting rid of the futon. I knew that meant he was leaving his beloved home, which he’d fought for 10 long years. It broke my heart to find out that the bank had committed fraud by not offering him a conforming home, and that he lost the lawsuit even though the judge ruled in his favor. In my mind, losing his house killed him. I remember how proud he was of his Vallejo home full to the brim with furniture and computers, as well as his beloved hot tub which I’d enjoyed early on. He had big plans for the land, and loved to tell anyone who would listen what he would do. He had huge dreams, and never gave up on them. Those dreams kept him going. Never have I met a more generous spirit. The world lost a great man in Frank.