Chris Freeberg

Influential administrator, avid rafter


Christopher Alan Freeberg died peacefully at home on July 29, 2015 after a valiant 10-month battle with lung cancer. He was 64.

He was born to Johanna (Sohn) Freeberg and Wayne Freeberg in Flint, Michigan on February 6, 1951. In 1961, the Freeberg family moved from Michigan to California. After high school, Mr. Freeberg attended Grinnell College in Iowa, then earned a master’s degree in social work from UC Santa Cruz.

Music was an important part of Mr. Freeberg’s life. He sang and played guitar, and enjoyed hosting parties where he jammed with local musicians. In 1990, he met his future wife, Kate O’Malley, at the Claremont Folk Festival—she was performing with a band and he was in the sound booth. The couple enjoyed traveling, taking many road trips through the western United States and camping whenever they found the time. “We enjoyed each other’s company. I always said I won the husband lottery,” Ms. O’Malley said.

Chris considered himself to have had two primary occupations in his life. The first was his position as associate dean of students at Pitzer College, where he worked for 23 years. He influenced many students in this position, and heard from many alums who kept in touch. When he said he worked at Pitzer, people would often ask him what he taught. “He said he taught life,” Ms. O’Malley said.

Mr. Freeberg was also a river rafting guide, a role he enjoyed for 15 years. He discovered his passion for the water sport early on. He embarked on an annual rafting trip for 37 years, rowing his way through spectacular locales like the Colorado River. After they met, Ms. O’Malley joined Chris on many adventures. “He liked the challenge and the peace,” she shared.

His enjoyment of the outdoors extended to the greens. While he referred to himself as “a duffer,” he played a pretty good game of golf. Other favorite activities included riding his bike around Claremont and hanging out and drinking coffee at Some Crust Bakery. He also liked to exercise his mind, reading “everything he could get his hands on.”

Mr. Freeberg was known for his sunny disposition, his great sense of humor, his warm hugs and his casual way, which was exemplified by his footwear. He rarely wore shoes, instead preferring flip-flops. He loved and was dearly loved by his friends and family.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Kate O’Malley; his father Wayne; his brother Tom; his sister-in-law Sally; his nephew Jon and his niece Morgan. He also leaves grandsons Eli (son of Zack and Vanessa Hurtado) and Liam (son of Josh and Heather Hurtado).

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Chris Freeberg’s name to the Inland Valley Hope Partners, 1753 N. Park Ave., Pomona, CA 91768.


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