Esteemed and award-winning CUSD educator, administrator, volunteer, family man
“Chuck Freitas was a generous and selfless supporter of people, whether in his professional role as an educator, in his family life, in his engagement with friends, or in his dedication to his contributions to the community,” said shared his family. “He was just asking for loyalty, honesty, commitment and love. In return, the gifts he gave of himself were eternal and immense.
Born Charles Worthing Freitas on November 24, 1942, the son of Worthing Charles Freitas and Jordis Astrid Nelson Freitas, Chuck grew up in the orange groves of Orange County in the 1940s and 50s. His father, a strongman of Portuguese descent, worked in the citrus industry and later at Standard Oil in the ports of San Pedro and Long Beach. His mother, a very sweet woman, the youngest of a large Norwegian family, was a registered nurse.
In the small town of Yorba Linda, her father was actively engaged in community service. He grew up learning from the best qualities of his parents. Additionally, his father’s father—his namesake—owned a small ranch a few blocks from their home where he could ride horses and learn from his grandfather’s wisdom and love.
He was able to participate in a number of activities while attending high school in Valencia, including football, basketball, athletics, baseball, theater, and a band/orchestra. He often said it was because the school was small and they needed bodies to participate.
After graduating from high school, a friend of the Hilmer Lodge family (the football stadium at Mt. San Antonio College was named in his honor) suggested that he and his friends go to Mt. SAC rather than to attend Fullerton Junior College, where the temptation of the beach would be greater than the temptation of the classroom.
From Mt. SAC, he earned his undergraduate degree at La Verne College (now La Verne University), where he was coached in football by Roland “Ort” Ortmayer and Esper Keiser, who became his entry into the Claremont Unified School District.
He taught briefly at the elementary level in the Charter Oak Unified School District before joining El Roble Middle School in Claremont as a physical education and science instructor. He joined Esper Keiser’s Claremont High School football coaching staff in 1966, and in 1968 became a professor of government, economics, and physical education there.
He moved into an administrative role as an educator in 1973, when he began curriculum development at the CHS, which led to the creation and development of the Claremont Adult School, which he considered one of his main professional achievements.
Progressing from this position, in 1978 he was appointed principal of the adult school and Sycamore Elementary. He became a full-time principal at Sycamore in 1982. In 1985, he moved to become principal at Condit Elementary School, where he remained for eight years. “Although the culture of each of these two schools is very different, he was adept at fostering camaraderie and creating a team among the staff,” his family explained. “His positive engagement with parents was recognized and his productive and friendly individual involvement is often a memory shared by former students.”
He held many additional leadership positions throughout his career, including as founder of the Claremont Management Association; work as part of the district bargaining team; represent the elementary education team in the office of the superintendent; coordinate staff development for the district; consulting at the county and state levels in areas such as classroom management, federal projects, and vocational education; as well as a member of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation team.
As the district explored and developed the concept of shared decision-making as an operational design, it played an important role in guiding the learning process among CUSD staff. He eventually took on a leadership role as a consultant at the state level, where he facilitated workshops and guided other districts in developing their own shared decision-making models.
The Association of California School Administrators, and later the organization’s retiree branch (RACSAM), constituted a large part of his professional and personal network. His contributions and leadership were recognized in March 2007 when he received the Robert E. Kelly Award for his role as an active retiree who had a lasting impact on education.
In 1993, he accepted an appointment to a cabinet-level position at CUSD, Director of Student Services, where his influence and impact would become wider. In his 11 years in this role, he has expanded the scope of his duties, reaching out to partner with the Claremont Police Department as part of the larger partnership established between CUSD and the city. of Claremont. Through this partnership, CPD and the Office of Student Services were able to establish effective joint policies to meet the attendance and behavioral needs of Claremont students.
Upon his retirement in 2004, he continued to give to the educational community. He held several acting positions, including Principal at Sycamore and Condit Schools and a school in Glendora, culminating his career in 2009.
Recently, CUSD Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources Kevin Ward described him as “synonymous with the CUSD family” and “a friend to all, a mentor to many, and the keeper of the story that constitutes our core values. . Every day he defended the best of CUSD. He was genuine with a down-to-earth practicality to support everyone in the pursuit of learning and personal growth.
In 2006, he received the prestigious Richard S. Kirkendall Award for his outstanding contributions to the Claremont district and community.
His involvement in the community was broad. He was a member of the Sunrise Rotary Club of Claremont from 1988 to 2015, serving as its president twice. At Claremont Sunrise, he helped create and led the development of the now annual Turkey Trot, which takes place every Thanksgiving morning in downtown Claremont.
He served as Director of Literacy Projects for Rotary District 5300, where he helped lead the donation of thousands of books for a primary school in a township in Cape Town, South Africa.
He served on the board of directors of the Claremont chapter of the American Red Cross from 1990 to 2012, of which he was president in 1995-1996. He has also served on the boards of Shoes That Fit and The Economy Shop.
He has been active in getting his sons involved in sports, as a coach and board member for the Little League, Pony League, and American Youth Soccer Organization.
At the City of Claremont, he served on the Traffic and Transportation Commission from 2010 to 2016.
A highlight of his community service was the honor of serving as Grand Marshal of the City of Claremont’s 4th of July Parade in 2013.
After his wife Devon retired from CUSD in 2010, travel became a priority. The couple enjoyed traveling twice to Europe, to Greece, the Bahamas, several times to Hawaii and Alaska, the Panama Canal and the east coast of Canada to Quebec. The trips always took them through Michigan or Texas to visit family and offered the opportunity to travel across the United States, where he always sought the distraction of a Major League Baseball park.
Nearly six years ago, the Freitas were challenged by his cancer diagnosis. Their immediate decision was to “prove the prognosis wrong” and “make every day a good day”.
“Every day was a good day because of the strength of determination and the sweetness of the love that Chuck and Devon gave to each other, and their family and friends gave to them,” his family shared.
Despite their illness and the pandemic, and because of their stamina, the couple were grateful to share many wonderful times together in Lake Arrowhead and Palm Desert when they were unable to travel publicly for the past few years.
Chuck died peacefully surrounded and filled with the love of his family and what he called his “army of friends” on Saturday, April 16.
He is survived by his wife, Devon; their sons Kenneth Freitas (Edith), Michael (Annette) Freitas, Tyson (Jessica) Lingenfelter and Jeremy (Alicia) Lingenfelter; grandchildren Sarah (20), Kyle (19), Benjamin (14), Paige (14), Katelyn (14), Joel (13) and Reid (11); his ex-wife, Beverley Hall; sister Judy (Brett) Baker; and his nephew David (Jana) Baker and their children, Ryan and Megan.
A celebration of life is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 4 at Claremont Presbyterian Church, 1111 N. Mountain Ave., Claremont CA, 91711. For those unable to attend, services will be streamed live on the Claremont Presbyterian Church Facebook page. to https://www.facebook.com/clarremontpresand on YouTube.
A reception will follow in the church’s communion hall, followed by interment at Oak Park Cemetery in Claremont.
In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting that donations be made to the Claremont Educational Foundation at www.supportcef.com/donate/or the Claremont After School Program at clasp4kids.org/donate/to celebrate his lifelong commitment to the education of Claremont students.