Ralph Nelson Freeman, 72, of Mattituck, New York, passed away April 2, 2011, surrounded by family after a seven-year battle with cancer.
Ralph was born in New London, Connecticut, August 12, 1938, to Ralph and Loretta Freeman. From an early age, he worked alongside his parents in the family-owned business, Flowers by Ralph.
Ralph studied horticulture at the University of Connecticut, then studied commercial floriculture and plant physiology, earning his master’s from Cornell University. He moved to Long Island, New York, with his wife, Carol, and worked as a Floriculture Specialist for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, New York, for 36 years. Through years of dedication to the business and high standards of excellence, he established himself as a leader and resource for flower growers, industry representatives and extension professionals.
Ralph earned the Long Island Farm Bureau’s Citizen of the Year title in 1999 because of his influence in Long Island’s agricultural industry. He has served on several boards of directors including the Center for Controlled Environment Agriculture (Rutgers University), Controlled Environment Agriculture (Cornell University) and the John G. Seeley Conference (Cornell University). Ralph has also served on the boards of directors for Bedding Plants Inc. and Professional Plant Growers Association, which are both international industry trade associations.
Ralph has led several educational tours and has authored numerous articles related to the floriculture industry. He was a frequent lecturer at state, national and international horticultural programs and conventions. He counseled people starting new businesses, consulted for FarmNet and was a trusted advisor to the agricultural community. Always a proud Cornellian, he often provided career guidance as well as references to high school students with aspirations of attending his alma mater.
Ralph was active in the Eastport Bible Church and the Gideons International, an association of Christian business and professional men. He served on the board of directors of Chapin Living Waters, providing irrigation systems to third-world countries.
Ralph enjoyed 10 years of retirement, treasuring time with his family and time spent on his sailboat! Many agricultural concerns and consulting questions were pondered and solved out on the waters of Peconic Bay.
Ralph Freeman is survived by his wife of 49 years, Carol; daughter, Cheryl, of New Jersey; son, Ralph Jr., of Delaware; daughter Heather Hughes of Delaware; his grandchildren, Linnea, Myles, Erika, Teddy, Lauren, AnnaKate and Joshua; and his siblings, Carl Freeman, Elaine Freeman Dunay, Dale Freeman Rahl and Bruce Freeman, all of Connecticut, and Jon Freeman of Vermont.
Funeral arrangements are being handled by DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home of Mattituck. A Memorial Service will be held Saturday, April 9, at 1 p.m. at Eastport Bible Church, 386 Montauk Highway, Eastport, NY (631-325-8164), with family visiting hours and light refreshments to follow.
Tax-deductible donations in Ralph Freeman’s honor may be sent to Chapin Living Waters, 364 N. Colorado Ave., Watertown, NY 13601, 315-788-0891.
This is a paid notice.