“Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard, but always near; still loved, still missed and very dear.” —Anonymous
As one of the former staff writer’s at The Baltimore Times, I have been asked to write many stories before, but this is by far the hardest. How do you put into words what a person means to you, especially when that person is Freddie Howard, affectionately known as “Mr. Freddie” to all who knew and loved him. Learning of his passing has broken my heart, but I am flooded with so many memories of a man, who from day one treated me, and everyone he knew like family. You would be hard pressed to find anyone who knew Freddie, speak an unkind word about the man who lived and breathed the newspaper business.
Freddie was such an intricate part of The Baltimore Times, it’s hard to believe that he is gone. In the 22 years he worked for the paper, Freddie loved what he did. He enjoyed seeing the final product hit the streets (he also delivered the papers to the boxes every Friday). Freddie believed in The Baltimore Times. It did not get any better than being part of a paper that printed “Positive Stories about Positive People”. He was proud of the Baltimore Times because we truly put thought into every story and took responsibility in what we gave to the public. We were a small staff, but the love for the paper showed whether you wrote, designed or worked in sales. It is a family-owned paper, and we were family.
“Freddie was my mentor and my friend. He taught me most of what I know about the newspaper business. I enjoyed listening to his many stories when he was in the mood to reminisce, particularly about how he got started in the printing business. He told me that once you have ink in your blood, you can’t get it out. And he was right. It’s still in my blood after twenty years.
“He didn’t talk a whole lot, but he cared a lot and when he gave advice you could take it to the bank. One of our favorite conversations always took place around this time of year, when we would “bet” each other who would win the different tennis matches on television.
I will miss Freddie, but I am honored that our paths crossed. His wisdom and love will live on forever in my heart,” said Dena Wane, director of Special Projects at The Baltimore Times.
Even as some of us moved on, I continued to stop by the paper because they were a second family. And to be honest, my daughter Myra, who is an honorary “Baltimore Times baby,” (as owner and publisher Jocelyn “Joy” Bramble called every child born to a parent who worked for the newspaper) always wanted to visit. Even if we got close to 25th and North Charles, Myra just had to go see everyone, especially Mr. Freddie. I honestly think it had more to do with the bags of candy and fruit he gave to her, if you ask me. But I know even if he did not have treats, she would want to visit her friend.
When you walked into his office, Freddie proudly displayed pictures of family and long-time friends. But, it was his collection of baby pictures, of every employee who had a baby while working at the paper that caught my attention. The pictures spanned years, and allowed Freddie to continue to watch each child grow before his eyes. I always tried to drop by with new pictures when I could. I knew that it would make his day. I am going to miss walking down the hall to see the light on in his office, and watching him light up as we walked in to surprise him. He would always say, “Ohh, my goodness! Look who’s here. Come and give me a hug.” I loved seeing him smile.
Another former Baltimore Times employee Patreka White reminisced about Freddie, “Mr. Freddie taught me everything I know about paginating a paper. He was like a caring granddad. He was family. I remember how he made sure you had eaten that day. He knew the best place to get breaded chicken. I will miss him greatly.”
And feed you, he did. Whether you were grabbing a piece of fruit, or a handful of candy and a drink —preferably diet soda— he had a snack for you. Every Thursday, Freddie would take a trip to the Amish Market and bring back whatever kind of chicken you wanted. And he would always call me on the phone and ask, “do you want macaroni salad or potato salad,” with your chicken. On separate occasions, he took Patreka and I to his home and then to the Amish Market, where I noticed he was just as loved out there as he was at home. It was one of his favorite places to go.
Mr. Freddie was definitely one of a kind. But, don’t let the smile fool you. Mr. Freddie was all about his business and making sure the paper was perfect, and got out on time. He could put a frown on his face that would make anybody step back. But, that was him. He just wanted to produce the best product with no excuses.
One relationship that I loved to watch was the relationship between Mr. Freddie and Mrs. Bramble. It was one of mutual respect and love for the paper.
“Freddie Howard was one of the best examples of what it means to be a man of honor. He came to The Baltimore Times, first as a part-timer and when he saw that we were actually doing what we said we would, he signed on fully. He had been in the newspaper business before I was born and he often laughed at us, but he brought a steady, thoughtful hand to teach us many of the things which made us succeed.
“ I really admired how he interacted with our staff, teaching them while making them fall in line. When Mr. Freddie began to layout the paper it was all hands on deck and everyone scurryed around to make sure their end was covered.
“He took an interest in young people, teaching and encouraging them to always do their best. I am going to miss him in a variety of ways. I am honored to have known and worked with him, and mostly I take comfort in the fact that he lived a long life, loved by many friends, co-workers and family,” said Bramble.
“Mr. Freddie leaves a tremendous void, not only in his family, but within The Baltimore Times family. You cannot replace a Freddie Howard. You can only learn to live with the fact that he is no longer here, and remember that he would want the Baltimore Times to continue on in the same fashion as if he were still here. I take pleasure in knowing Mr. Freddie lived a long, fulfilling and dedicated life. He loved The Baltimore Times, and we in return loved him. We will truly miss Mr. Freddie. You can rest now! Your job is done!”