Humphrey School News—March 27, 2018

Remembering Jane Freeman, Former Minnesota First Lady and Lifelong Public Servant

The Freeman family legacy lives on at the Humphrey School


An undated photo of Orville and Jane Freeman
Orville and Jane Freeman. Photo courtesy of the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

Former first lady of Minnesota Jane Freeman, who died Friday at age 96, is remembered for her life of public service and longtime support of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs along with her husband, former Governor Orville Freeman. The School’s center on international economic policy is named in honor of the couple’s achievements in the political and social arenas.

Mrs. Freeman was first lady of Minnesota from 1955 to 1961, and served in a variety of leadership roles on the national and international levels for many years afterward, with organizations such as the Girl Scouts of America, the Women’s National Democratic Club, the United Nations, and CARE. Mr. Freeman died in 2003.

“Jane Freeman will be long remembered, both here in Minnesota and across the country, for her incredible talents and dedication to public service,” says Humphrey School Dean Laura Bloomberg. “Her accomplishments in each of her roles were extensive, particularly at a time when expectations for the wives of politically active men were somewhat limited. Not surprisingly, Mrs. Freeman became a role model for many girls and young women.”

The Freeman family has generously supported the Humphrey School since its founding 40 years ago. In their honor, the School established the Freeman Center for International Economic Policy in 1990 to address major challenges of the global economy and develop effective policy responses. Professor Robert Kudrle holds the Freeman Chair for International Trade and Investment Policy.  

The family's ongoing support has helped establish the School’s international and global program as one of the best in the nation among public policy schools.

One of the School’s gathering spaces, the Orville and Jane Freeman Commons, is dedicated to them, and displays numerous photographs illustrating their leadership in public and private life including Mrs. Freeman’s roles during the time her husband served as administrative assistant to Hubert H. Humphrey, as governor of Minnesota, as U.S. secretary of agriculture, and beyond. Their son, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, has served on the dean’s advisory council for numerous years.

“We are grateful for the substantial contributions of Jane and Orville Freeman and their family to the Humphrey School over the years,” says Bloomberg. “Their legacy of public service is a shining example to our students as they prepare to advance the common good in a diverse world.”

The Freeman family has requested memorials in Jane Freeman's name be directed to the Orville and Jane Freeman Chair in International Trade and Investment Policy

Read Jane Freeman’s full obituary in the Star Tribune

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