Betty Jane Freed, a North Carolina native who played an essential supporting role in the pioneering career of her husband, Trans World Radio founder Dr. Paul Freed, died Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, at the age of 96.
Lauren Libby, president of the international ministry now better known as TWR, informed staff around the world soon after learning from her son, Paul David Freed, of Mrs. Freed’s passing.
“God used this couple to start a global ministry from a humble beginning in Tangier, Morocco, with a 2,500-watt shortwave transmitter,” Libby said. “What a wonderful story of God honoring his promises and the faith of the Freeds.”
In the 66 years since that shortwave transmitter went on the air, TWR has grown into a worldwide ministry bringing gospel programming to 190 countries via multiple media in more than 200 languages.
Mrs. Freed had moved to the Orlando, Florida, area from Cary, North Carolina, after Dr. Freed went to be with the Lord in 1996. Dr. Freed stepped down from the presidency in 1994 and was serving as chairman of the TWR board at the time of his death.
In his book Towers to Eternity, to which Mrs. Freed contributed a very personal chapter, Dr. Freed praised his wife for providing vital encouragement and spiritual support after his life-changing heart attack in 1961.
“Betty Jane has been one hundred percent with me in sickness and in health,” he wrote. “I do not think this work could ever have become a reality, nor could I have gone through the things I have, without her deep Christian devotion as a wife and the faithful mother of our five wonderful children.”
Dr. Freed also wrote lovingly and humorously about the whirlwind courtship leading up to the couple’s marriage in 1945. His Bible college roommate told him all about a wonderful girl he had met, Betty Jane Seawell, and insisted that she was the perfect match for young Paul Freed.
A year and a half later, Freed came across a largely forgotten scrap of an envelope bearing Betty Jane’s name and address. Writing sight unseen, he told her he would be traveling near her family’s hometown of Carthage, North Carolina, and asked if he might stop in and say hello to this acquaintance of his roommate.
Warmly received by the Seawells, Freed obviously made a good impression, not only with the young lady but with her deeply spiritual parents. Seven weeks later, Paul and Betty Jane were married.
“We were both sure that God had moved us toward each other, and that our marriage was His plan,” Dr. Freed wrote.
Bill Mial, a TWR missionary of more than 60 years who served as one of Dr. Freed’s chief lieutenants, remembered Mrs. Freed as a woman of prayer, much like her mother-in-law.
“It always impressed me that she was such a gifted lady but was satisfied to play a behind-the-scenes role to provide the support and stability for their marriage and subsequent family,” Mial said. “She had an incredible ability to remember people’s birthdays and little things about them that made the relationship special.”
Four of the Freeds’ five children survive them along with their wives: Paul David and Sandra Freed; James and Maureen Freed; Danny and Amy Freed; and Stephen and Sandi Freed.
TWR will host the family as homegoing services for Mrs. Freed are celebrated Saturday, Jan. 18, at 12:45 p.m. The services will take place at the TWR International office in Cary, North Carolina.
Photos: [top] left: couple portrait of Dr. Paul Freed and Betty Jane Freed taken in 1954, center: Betty Jane Freed, 2013, right: Betty Jane Freed and Dr. Paul Freed visiting the Swaziland (now Eswatini) transmitter site in 1974; [top, right] Monaco mayor J.C. Medecin, Betty Jane Freed, Dr. Paul Freed, and the mayor's assistant at the Jardin Exotique, 1975; [middle, left] Bonaire transmitter site dedication in 1965, from left: Netherland Antilles Prime Minister Efraïn F. Jonckheer, Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Bonaire Lt. Gov. Elias Morkos, Betty Jane Freed, Dr. Paul Freed; [bottom, right] a visit of TWR board members to the transmitter site, from left: Dr. Paul Freed, Wilfried Mann, Betty Jane Freed, Horst Marquardt