Herman Freedland, 89, SSA mail clerk, folk dance teacher

October 10, 2002|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Herman Harry Freedland, retired chief mail clerk for the Social Security Administration and teacher of Eastern European folk dances, died of sepsis Oct. 3 at Sinai Hospital. He was 89.

Mr. Freedland was born in East Baltimore, the son of Jewish immigrant parents, and raised on Thomas Avenue in Walbrook. He left school in the ninth grade, after the death of his father, to help support his family.

Throughout his life, Mr. Freedland worked at a succession of jobs. He sold cemetery plots, garbage-disposal systems, and was a counter man at the old Nate's & Leon's North Avenue deli and Globus Cafeteria in the city's Garment District.

FOR THE RECORD - An obituary published for Herman Freedland in Thursday's editions of The Sun incorrectly listed the residence of his daughter. Linda L. Cummins lives in Dickeyville.
The Sun regrets the error.

He worked at Bethlehem Steel's Sparrows Point shipyard, swinging a huge maul for hours on end. In the summer, to pay for family vacations in Atlantic City, he sold fried chicken and pushed the famous rolling chairs along the Boardwalk there.

He later owned and operated a fish market on Baker Street before going to work for the SSA in Woodlawn in 1968. He retired as chief mail clerk in 1978.

"He didn't have much education and always worked hard throughout his life. At Social Security, he'd get to work an hour early just to get the day's work going," said his daughter, Linda L. Cummins of Pikesville.

"After seeing Zorba the Greek, he became inspired and realized an unfilled lifelong dream to be a folk dancer," Mrs. Cummins said.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Mr. Freedland taught Eastern European folk dances at Baltimore area senior centers and the Maryland School for the Blind.

He would arrive pulling a portable shopping cart carrying the small tape recorder, which provided musical accompaniment.

"He was like the old Jewish saying that asked, `Did you dance today? Did you dance with joy?' Herman always rejoiced that he was alive and took it to heart," said Arnold Cummins, his son-in-law. "Dancing was Herman's answer to the sadness, problems and pitfalls of this life. He tried to make a career out of being happy."

His daughter said, "Even though he had been held up, stabbed and beaten several times and spent over a month in the hospital, he always came back dancing."

Mr. Freedland took in and cared for stray animals, and enjoyed reading.

He was a member of the Liberty Jewish Center.

His marriage to the former Mollie Ann Zuskin ended in divorce. In 1975, he married Rebecca Krieger, who died in 1985.

Services were held Friday.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Freedland is survived by a son, Alan I. Freedland of Baltimore; two stepdaughters, Rochelle Freedman of Owings Mills and Linda Shupp of Florida; and a stepgrandson.

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