Dr. Norman R. Freeman Jr., a retired internist who had cared for Baltimore Colts players for two decades, died Friday at the Blakehurst retirement community in Towson of complications from a fall. He was 97.
The son of Norman R. Freeman, a window treatment manufacturing company executive, and Marie P. Freeman, a homemaker, Norman Randolph Freeman Jr. was born in Baltimore and raised on Northway in Guilford.
After graduating from Gilman School in 1935, he earned his bachelor's degree from Princeton University in 1939 and his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1943.
He interned at Hopkins Hospital before entering the Army in 1944, where he was assigned to the Medical Transportation Corps.
Dr. Freeman made six trips to England, where he transported patients back to the United States in convoys. He was promoted to captain in 1945 and was chief of the officer's section at Halloran General Hospital on Staten Island, N.Y.
He was discharged in 1946 and returned to Baltimore, where he completed a two-year residency in internal medicine at Union Memorial Hospital.
In 1948, he established his practice at Charles and 29th streets. In 1978, he relocated to 4300 N. Charles St. in Guilford, where he continued practicing for a decade and also made his home.
Dr. Freeman practiced mostly at Union Memorial Hospital and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center, and was an instructor at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
"He had been my mother's physician, and she lived well up into her 80s," said H. Douglas Huether, a Blakehurst neighbor and friend. "He'd ask her, 'What medicines are you taking, May?' and she'd answer, 'Just an aspirin,' and then Norm would reply, 'Well, don't stop.' "
In 1963, Dr. Freeman became the internist for the Baltimore Colts.
"This was an avocation which he enjoyed very much. Most of his work involved preseason physicals as well as attending to medical problems throughout the season," said his daughter, Nancy Freeman Brooks of Rockville.
When he turned 65 in 1983, Dr. Freeman announced his retirement from the Colts.
"Their last game was dedicated to him. He received the game ball, which has been signed by each member of the team," his daughter said. "It turned out to be the last Colt game played in Baltimore because the team relocated during the offseason."
He had been a member of the Baltimore City Medical Society for 50 years.
From 1965 to 2012, he was a member of the Maryland State Retirement Board, which reviews medical and accidental retirement cases.
"In 2012, he was probably the oldest person on the state's payroll," his daughter said.
Dr. Freeman moved in 2000 to Blakehurst from 4300 N. Charles St. Earlier, he had lived for many years on Northway.
His wife of 30 years, the former Mary Jensen, died in 1976. He was married in 1978 to the former Virginia Mueller, who died in 2004.
"He was a very outgoing man and he was very interested in Blakehurst, where he served as liaison for the health center," said friend Annetta M. "Annette" Richter. "I was also on his committee because I had been a nurse."
Mrs. Richter, whose husband had been a doctor, and Dr. Freeman and his wife began eating dinner together at Blakehurst and playing bridge.
"He was the best bridge partner I ever had," she said.
After their spouses' deaths, Dr. Freeman and Mrs. Richter continued sharing their mutual interests and enjoyed taking holiday Caribbean cruises aboard their favorite ships of the Regent Seven Seas Cruise Line.
"We both enjoyed gardening. His tomatoes were very important to him," said Mrs. Richter. "He even taught me to like the Orioles."
Dr. Freeman also enjoyed golfing and was a member of the Baltimore Country Club beginning in 1927.
"He was their longest-living member," his daughter said. "He was playing golf at the Baltimore Country Club in 1928 when he let the noted golfer Bobby Jones and his group play through."
Dr. Freeman continued playing golf at the club's Five Farms course three times a week from 1976 until 2009.
He remained a loyal Gilman sports fan throughout his life. He was also a member of the Southern Maryland Society and the St. George's Society.
Dr. Freeman was an Orioles and Ravens fan. He also liked collecting antiques.
A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Tuesday at St. Andrew's Community Church, 5802 Roland Ave.
In addition to his daughter, Dr. Freeman is survived by a stepson, Michael Brent of Devon, Pa.; two granddaughters; and three great-grandsons.