May 1, 1917 - May 4, 2012
Herbert H. Freise, was born May 1, 1917, in Palatine Township, Ill., the third of four children of Louis H. and
Marie Kirchhoff Freise. His parents and relatives were German-speaking farmers, so he did not speak English until he
began attending the local Lutheran Church Missouri Synod parochial school in Palatine. But he knew what he wanted to
be early on. During a visit to one of his older sibling's friend's house he was asked, "What are you going to be when you
grow up?" Herb responded, "A trial lawyer", and thereafter many at his church and at other activities addressed him
as "State's Attorney" (the Illinois equivalent of Prosecuting Attorney). Herb attended Concordia High School in Milwaukee,
Wisc., where his mind and amazing memory were sharpened further by the study of, among other subjects, Latin and Greek. After Concordia
he attended Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Ind., obtaining a bachelor of arts degree in
1939 and juris doctor degree in 1941. Consistent with the difficult times shared by many
during the Great Depression, as a freshman Herb managed as well as waited tables at a
restaurant run by the university. Beginning the summer after his freshman year, he commuted
most weekends from Valparaiso to Chicago, where he worked for the firm Engelhard
Krogman. Herb often expressed the gratitude he felt for those at the firm who gave him an
opportunity during those years when many who sought work were unable to find any. To
further emphasize the hard times of the Depression Era, Herb would recount that once he
and his father had to flee from their car, which had broken down on a railroad crossing,
but nevertheless they made sure to take with them the 50 pound bag of sugar that was in the vehicle.
After graduating and passing the Illinois Bar exam, on November 10, 1941, he was
sworn in as a lawyer in the State of Illinois. He often noted that he and his fellow Valparaiso
Law School graduates had a 100 percent pass rate while the graduates of Harvard, Yale, Columbia,
and Michigan had pass rates of about fifty percent on that examination.
The draft boards were very active prior to the United States' entry into WWII. Herb,
seeing the "handwriting on the wall," studied diligently to meet the requirements to secure
one of the few positions in an officer candidate school. On October 23, 1941, Herb was
sworn in as a Navy enlisted man preliminary to entering Northwestern Midshipman School
in Chicago, from which he graduated with the rank of ensign in the spring of 1942, along
with the successful, remaining 25 percent of those who entered his class. His first tour of
active duty was at the Naval Air Station in Kodiak, Alaska, where he was assigned as the
communications officer. His unofficial duties drew on his farming skills and included duck
hunting with the admiral and the Marines assigned to the admiral. His official duties drew
on his language skills and included encrypting and decoding, sending and receiving, classified
messages. Among the messages he decoded were those for the mission when the plane
carrying Japanese Admiral Yamamoto was shot down.
In late April 1943 Herb received orders to report to Tacoma, to a billet on an aircraft
carrier. On April 13, 1943, the carrier, the USS Mission Bay (CVE-59), on which he was assistant
gunnery officerand second division officer, was commissioned at Astoria, Ore. During
his tour of duty on the Mission Bay, its assigned task consisted mainly of hunting enemy
submarines in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. After depth charging one suspected sub for
some time, upon observing all the oil that came to the surface, his C.O. quipped that they
had either got the sub "or a Standard Oil tanker." In February 1945 the Mission Bay sailed in
the direction of Gibraltar and met the heavy cruiser, Quincy, and escort returning in convoy
with President Franklin D. Roosevelt from the secret Yalta Conference, where wartime
leaders Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin negotiated the post war organization of Europe.
Herb also undertook a number of voluntary projects on the Mission Bay, including teaching
English classes to illiterate sailors and organizing the ship's laundry. In the Navy he forged
lifetime friendships with other officers and sailors. During his later life he organized a number
of Mission Bay reunions. On March 21, 1945, consistent with the several promotions
he had received, he was transferred to be the navigator on the carrier USS Badoeng Strait
(CVE-116). He remained on the Badoeng Straight until Jan. 25, 1946, the date of his discharge
from active duty in the Navy Reserve. He attained the rank of lieutenant commander
and remained active (on a non-active duty basis) in the Navy Reserve for many years.
After the War, Herb practiced law with the Chicago law firm of Brooks and Clusman.
During the War, however, he had decided that the Pacific Northwest was where he wanted
to live, so in late 1948 he moved to Seattle. He passed the Washington State bar exam and
was sworn in as a member of the Washington State Bar on March 21, 1949. Through corporate
legal work he had performed in Chicago he became aware of a position with Cameron
Sherwood in Walla Walla.
On April 11, 1949, he began practicing law in Mr. Sherwood's office and stayed with him
for two-and-a-half years. During this time Mr. Sherwood's daughters introduced him to
Vera Jeanette White, whom he married on October 15, 1949. Vera was the daughter of Vere
and Jenny White. Vera was born and raised in Seattle, but Mr. White had moved to eastern
Washington during WWII to work on the Hanford Project, and then to Walla Walla where
he was a principle in Miller Supply. Herb and Vera married at Trinity Lutheran Church in
Walla Walla and honeymooned at Lake Wallowa. They were married 51 years before Vera
died on July 5, 2001.
On Sept. 30, 1951, Walla Walla Prosecuting Attorney Murray E. Taggart hired Herb to
be deputy prosecuting attorney. He served in this position until September 30, 1954. He
tried many cases as deputy prosecuting attorney, including the first (at least in many years)
successful prosecution in Walla Walla County of a drunk-driving homicide.
On Oct. 1, 1954, he opened his own law office at 200 Jones Building in Walla Walla.
During his career practicing law in Walla Walla he served as general counsel of Walla Walla
General Hospital and led its successful fund drive to construct a new facility. He performed
the legal work for a number of other corporations important to the Walla Walla economy.
He had an astoundingly broad practice, which was a testament to his extreme work ethic.
Yet of all the types of legal work he performed, his particular interest and love was trial
work. He served as defense counsel on literally hundreds of cases and also tried many other
cases as plaintiff 's counsel. Among the many professional associations he enjoyed during
his career in Walla Walla was that with Harlow Barney, the renowned, Walla Walla area watermaster,
some of whose stories Herb was fond of relating to friends and acquaintances all
around the country. One was when Harlo was a boy had travelled by foot and on horseback
with Native Americans on one of their annual salmon-catching expeditions to Celilo Falls.
Herb also often expressed his appreciation for and credited Harlow with teaching him the
finer points of water rights law.
In Walla Walla he also reunited with Art Eggers, his Valparaiso college fraternity brother
(Phi Delta Theta), after Mr. Eggers moved to the area. Mr. Eggers worked for Herb for
awhile and they also worked together in the Senate, where Mr. Eggers was counsel for the
Washington State Senate Republican Caucus. Later Mr. Eggers served as Walla Walla county
prosecuting attorney for many years. Art and his wife, Patsy (Patricia Louise Kelly), were
married in the Freise home.
In 1956 Herb was elected to the Washington State Senate for Walla Walla County. He
was supported by leading citizens, including Dorsey Baker, then president of the Baker
Boyer Bank. He served three terms. During his tenure he sponsored a number of landmark
pieces of legislation, which were passed into law, including revamping the Washington State
securities laws, and certain consumer protection laws - including making Washington the
first state in the nation to require safety glass in sliding doors. Among his many other successful
bills were allowing "right-on-red" and requiring white "fog" lines on the right side
of state highways, which was suggested by Vera, who had observed them in Oregon. His
bipartisanship and cooperative efforts with both sides of the aisle in the State Senate led to
securing the funding for the beginning of Walla Walla Community College, to the unhappiness
of much larger school districts who also (but unsuccessfully) requested funding at the
time of the creation of the Washington State Community College system.
Herb also served for several years as a member of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
Committee on Constitutional Matters - the highest ecclesiastical court of the Lutheran
Church Missouri Synod.
Herb loved the Walla Walla Valley and often, during his business trips to all parts of the
country, extolled its virtues to anyone who would listen, including its climate, which he described
as being as among the finest in the world. He particularly cited the fact that, during
most winters, it was possible to play golf all year long ... at the Walla Walla Country Club,
where he was a member for many years.
In part due to health concerns and in part to be closer to Vera's family, Herb retired to
Seattle shortly after July 31, 1984. He did not stop working, though. In Seattle he was active
arbitrating Superior Court lawsuits and securities cases, serving as judge pro tem in the
Seattle Municipal Court for 16 years, and as a pro tem ex parte in King County Superior
Court and court commissioner for six years. He also enjoyed golfing and the company of his
friends at Broadmoor Golf Club, where he was a member. It was with great sorrow that he
discontinued that practice due to his failing eyesight. His fellow club members afforded him
a promotion from his grade school appellation by addressing him as "Judge."
Herb and Vera raised their three children in Walla Walla.
Herb is survived by their children and their families: Eric L. Freise, engaged to Deanne DeWitt, Clinton, Wash., children
Elizabeth, Mark, Ann and Erin; Mark H. Freise (Peggy Freise), Southampton, Mass.,
children William and Jennifer; Ellen Freise-March (Lewis March, M.D.), Pittsburgh, Pa.,
sons Brian Freise and Zachary and Benjamin and March; and by his one remaining sister,
Lorraine Heidorn, Florida.
A memorial service will be held 10 a.m., Aug. 9, 2012, at Pilgrim Lutheran Church, Bellevue,
Wash. A private interment ceremony be held at Floral Hills, Lynnwood, Wash.
Memorial contributions can be made to: Lutheran Ministry Services, 7040 36th Avenue
NE Seattle, WA 98115-5998. www.lmsnw.org