Freddie Ree "The Señora" Neal, 88, longtime resident of Rochester, Wash., peacefully passed away Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, while residing at the Retirement Chalet in Rochester, Wash. She was born April 1, 1932, in Karnack, Texas, to Alonzo and Laura (Adams) Williams.
While growing up in El Paso, her family lived in a hispanic neighborhood and were the only ones living in this community who spoke English. Freddie learned to live and experience different cultures. At that time, Texas was a segregated state, so Freddie walked to a black school. Freddie graduated from Douglas High School in El Paso, Texas, in 1951, as class valedictorian. She attended Prairie View A & M College, University of Arizona, and received her master’s degree from Washington State University. She moved to Rochester in 1957. She was married to Robert “Bob” L. Neal from 1957 to 2011.
Freddie began teaching physical education at the Maple Lane Correctional Institution. She gained the respect of her students as she broadened their curriculum and governed herself as a figure of guidance and authority. With patience, she handled the fear and ignorance her students expressed toward African American people. Freddie was invited to teach at Rochester High School. She taught P.E., Spanish, health, civics, history, sociology, psychology, dance, career education, girl’s league and coached cheer leaders, drill team, basketball, volleyball, and track. She was the liaison counselor for minority students. Often she would help students after class to bring them up to their potential. Freddie was a people person and making students aware of their abilities and capabilities was rewarding. She retired from teaching in 1992. In 2008, she was the first Distinguished Educator of the Rochester Alumni Association.
Freddie’s community involvement included serving on the Rochester School Board (Chairperson 1973) and a former member of Thurston County Teachers, Delta Kappa Gamma (Treasurer and Vice President) IOTA Chapter, National Educators Association, Washington Educators Association, Rochester Educators Association, and American Association of University Women (secretary). She was a merit badge counselor for Boy Scout Troop 317, Election Board, Swede Day Grand Marshall and was involved in diversity programs of Lewis County. Freddie and her husband were honored for their service by Centralia College in 2019. They are the first honorees on the college’s diversity wall.
Freddie was a faithful member of Rochester United Methodist Church and served as a Sunday school teacher, Lay Leader, Treasurer United Methodist Women (Rochester), Annual Conference Delegate, Pastor Parish Committee, Vancouver District Representative for United Methodist Church people of color, and United Methodist Women (District Officer).
Freddie was preceded in death by her parents, Alonzo Williams and Laura Skipper; brother, Alonzo Williams Jr.; sister, Royletta Blueford; and husband, Robert L Neal.
She is survived by her sister, Dolores Blueford; brother, Albert; brother, Joe (Lisa); children, Golden, Lobis, and Geoffrey; and grandchild, Etta.
Freddie’s family would like to thank the caring staff who serve and have served at the Retirement Chalet and Providence South SoundHomeCare and Hospice for their support and thoughtful care.
Public viewing will be Dec. 16, 2020, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Interment will be a private family gathering at Grand Mound Cemetery. At a later date, there will be an online celebration of life at Rochester United Methodist Church and a community celebration of life. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Rochester United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 78, Rochester, WA 98579, or Rochester Scholarship Association, P.O. Box 1, Rochester, WA 98579.