Roland Paul Freund (1939-2020)
Roland Paul Freund died in his Carlisle home on April 9, 2020, at age 80, following a short, but tough battle with brain tumors. He never met a farm he didn’t like. A specialist in farm management and planning, he trained and coached farmers throughout the local Pennsylvania area, Maine, Swaziland, New Guinea, and Moldova for over 54 years. He believed that helping farmers become more efficient helped them provide food for the world. He operated in many austere conditions where he had to be self-reliant, and always kept his sense of humor and his smile. He was also published author on farm financial planning and the Enga culture.
Roland was born June 16, 1939, of Australian Lutheran missionary parents, the Reverend A. P. Harold and Dorothea Martha (Ey) Freund in Finschhafen, New Guinea. They instilled in him a life-long sense of service and commitment to the Lutheran faith. His first years were spent on Rooke Island. On Christmas Day of 1941, he, his mother, and his brother Martin were evacuated with only 35 pounds of luggage, while his father stayed in New Guinea to be a coast watcher for Australian Naval Intelligence. His mother and the boys lived with relatives in South Australia (SA) during the war. Before and during the Japanese invasion of New Guinea, his father spent 15 months moving around New Guinea and reporting on Japanese naval and air movements, while Japanese Army officers occupied their home, turning it into a headquarters.
Roland started school in Gawler, SA, and continued with home schooling when the family returned to the mission field in 1947. They moved to Enga province, which is in the Highlands of New Guinea. In 1950, he began boarding school in Adelaide, spending breaks working on uncles’ farms tending to Merino sheep. Upon completing his high school education at Concordia College in 1955, he attended Roseworthy Agricultural College where he supplemented his studies with hands-on farming with Clydesdale horses, and working at the Jacob’s Creek vineyard. He also learned to drive a Ferret armored scout car in the South Australian equivalent of the National Guard.
Following graduation in 1959, he then returned to New Guinea and served the Lutheran mission as the first resident agriculturist among the Enga people in Mukuramanda. This was a remote area accessible only by air and hand-made roads. A fluent Enga and Pidgin speaker, he taught them to grow mild Arabica coffee at high altitudes and process it for export to Australian markets. This allowed the Enga people to purchase steel goods and better develop their economy. In 1964, he completed an animal husbandry sabbatical at the University of New England in Armidale, New South Wales. Then he worked in Wapenamanda with the Yakuman tribe. Some people in that region still refer to their hybrid corn using his local nickname. In April 1968, he ran for the Open Electorate seat in the provincial government, and was the runner-up, receiving 2,832 votes.
In 1970 he completed his mission service with a sabbatical at Michigan State University earning a Master of Science degree in 1971. While at MSU Roland met and married organist and Doctoral student Josephine Bailey. Their honeymoon was an extensive tour of developing countries en route to Papua New Guinea, including Kenya, India, and Thailand. Roland then served the Department of Agriculture as a Field Officer. In 1973, he became a lecturer at Vudal Agricultural College. His son Ernest was born while they were at Mount Hagen. The family migrated to the USA in 1976.
Roland began working for Penn State as an Extension Agent in Cumberland County and attended Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Carlisle. Penn State sent Roland and family to Swaziland, Africa from 1982 to 1984. There he served as an agricultural economist on a U.S. Agency for International Develop project. Upon their return to Carlisle, he became a Regional Farm Management Agent for multiple counties in the Capital Region until his retirement in 2003. He was active in the Adult and Youth Livestock program, especially 4-H, where he often taught sheep shearing and butchering.
Roland is a lifetime member of the National County Agents Association which presented him the Distinguished Service Award in 1992 for his Farm Estate Planning publication. He was also a member of the Honorary Extension Fraternity, Epsilon Sigma Phi, where he served a term as President of the Pennsylvanian chapter, Alpha Omicron.
In June 1999, Roland completed his naturalization classes and became a U.S. citizen. However, he never lost his Australian accent or his taste for Vegemite. He retired from Penn State in 2003.
In retirement Roland operated a part-time consulting business “Farm Decisions” assisting farmers in Pennsylvania, and as Business Planning Consultant for blueberry and lobster producers in Maine and asparagus farmers in Pennsylvania under the Trade Adjustment Assistance (Federal TAA) Program. He also did an agricultural consulting trip to Moldova.
Roland has been a member and served on the congregation councils of both Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Carlisle, and Trinity Lutheran Church in Camp Hill. He was proud to have helped to settle two immigrant families in the region as part of a church refugee committee. He also sung in the Saint John’s Episcopal Church Choir and toured England with them in 1989.
Roland and family enjoyed travel to over 22 countries on five continents, and all 50 states of the US. Roland enjoyed photography, and motor vehicles – particularly BMWs which he maintained, repaired and the family drove for almost a million miles for work and pleasure. He was a member of, and served as secretary for, the Nittany Bimmers Chapter of the BMW Car Club.
Roland is preceded in death by Josephine, his wife of 48 years who died February 8; and his parents, Reverend A. P. Harold and Dorothea Martha (Ey) Freund. He is survived by his brother Reverend Martin Freund, nephew Matthew Freund, niece Melinda Freund, and a great-nephew Lucas Freund of South Australia; and his son, Colonel Ernie Freund, daughter-in-law Megan Sayler Freund, and granddaughters, Amelia Rose and Adelaide Pearl, all from Burke, Virginia.
Due to COVID-19, his memorial service and burial are delayed indefinitely. Please check the Ronan Funeral Home website for updates. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to Residential Hospice (100 Sterling Pkwy #110, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050), or the Traditional Music Fund at Trinity Lutheran Church (2000 Chestnut Street, Camp Hill PA 17011; please include “Traditional Music Fund” on the memo line).