Louise was born on January 15, 1927, in York County Williamsburg, VA to the late John and Mary Hattie Ashlock Bartlett. She was the fifth of seven children, and the third of four daughters.
Until the age of 13, Louise lived in Williamsburg, attended The Old Grove School, now a landmark building in Waller Mill Park, and the family church, Zion Baptist Church. Her father was a founding member of Zion and helped build the church’s original edifice. Her father died preceding the death of her mother.
Upon the passing of her mother, the upbringing of Louise and her younger siblings were assumed by their paternal aunts and uncles. While some of her siblings remained with relatives in Williamsburg, VA, responsibility for Louise, was undertaken by her aunt, Daisy Jamerson, in Brooklyn, New York. There in Brooklyn and Mount Vernon, New York, Louise was surrounded by a host of her father’s relatives who had previously relocated during the great migration.
Under Aunt Daisy’s love and guidance, Louise excelled in school and became passionate about sports, particularly baseball. She completed her intermediate school education at PS 45 where she attended with our cousin, Gladys Freeman Howard. Louise went on to complete her high school education at Clara Barton High School. She later obtained her Nursing degree from the Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, New York. This renowned Jewish institution was one of the first medical schools to accept African-American students in the 1930s. Following the family tradition, at an early age, Louise was initiated into the Order of the Eastern Star Fraternal Order in Brooklyn, New York.
Louise was a member of the Antioch Baptist Church, in Brooklyn, New York, the family church. Antioch Baptist Church was founded and lead by the renowned Reverend Dr. Moses Prophet Paylor, and Reverend Dr. George Lawrence, a close associate of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This was also the church home of Carrie Freeman, Louise’s future sister-in-law.
After graduating from nursing school, during marriage and motherhood, Louise worked tirelessly and was respected for the quality of care she provided to patients despite the sometimes trying circumstances in hospitals within the Bedford-Stuyvesant community. Among the most challenging for her was caring for children suffering from major illnesses and the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic.
During her career, Louise sometimes worked as a domestic and held positions as a Licensed Practical Nurse with Maimonides Medical Center, St John’s Episcopal Hospital, and Brooklyn Jewish Hospital. She worked at Brooklyn Jewish Hospital until her retirement.
While in Brooklyn, Louise met her husband, Sam Jacobs (Freeman). They were introduced by Louise’s friend Marshall “Buddy”, who happened to be Uncle Eugene’s (wife, Carrie), brother-in-law and uncle of Gladys’ Freeman Howard. Although Uncle Sam already knew many of Louise’s family members, it was the first time that they met.
Sam and Louise were married on January 17, 1952, and immediately started a family - Samuel John Jr., Tanya Louise, James Anthony “Tony”, Shirley Annette, and Beverly Eugenia. Sam and Louise shared 59 years together until his death on March 26, 2011.
Sam and Louise created their home in an apartment at 46 Brooklyn Avenue, where Louise’s sister, Zennie resided. They took over the apartment where Sam once lived with his brothers, James (Ernest) and Eugene. Bedford-Stuyvesant was known as a mixed-income, working-class neighborhood, with affordable brownstones and apartments. With their savings and earnings, Sam and Louise purchased a house on Halsey Street. During their time in Brooklyn, they opened their doors to many family members, some who spent summers with them to work in Sam’s businesses, and those who chose to relocate from the south. Sam and Louise always welcomed and took care of them as their own.
In 1989, Louise retired and relocated to Williamsburg with Sam and their granddaughter Nikia (Nikki). Upon returning to Williamsburg, she reactivated her membership with the Order of Eastern Star, the Pride of Grove # 181 and renewed her faith with the family church, Zion Baptist Church.
In her retirement, Louise kept busy. Among many hobbies, Sam and Louise shared a love and passion for family, baseball, westerns, gardening, and cooking. Aside from taking care of Nikia, Louise often babysat for friends and relatives. Later, she developed a fondness for word puzzles and would be found at her kitchen table solving them while watching The Price is Right and her “stories.”
There was nothing conventional about Louise. She was a woman beyond her time. She was feisty and you knew when you saw her, she would let you know what was on her mind and did not mince words. She was always direct and intentional in her tone. Although Louise never missed an opportunity to share her opinions, she was a beacon of strength to her family. When we fell on difficult times, she understood that we would look to her for guidance, and she showed us to be strong when she often was not. We knew Louise didn’t share her love for you until she had her time to “fuss” at you, which could go longer than we’d like. Although she was not an overly emotional person, Louise had a big heart for the underserved and often had the patience for hopeless situations, situations that others would give up on.
On Wednesday, February 3, 2021, the Lord saw fit to call Louise home for her crown.
Louise is also preceded in death by her daughter, Tanya Louise; son, James Anthony; brothers and sisters, Junius, Gladys, John Jr. “Bubba”, Zennie, Catherine “OD”, and Earl. She leaves to cherish her memories, her children, Samuel John (Xanthus), Shirley Annette, and Beverly Eugenia; five grandchildren, Reshauh Xanthus, Nikia Louise, LaShae Xanthus (Dupree), Avery Eugene, and Shanika (LaToya); four great-grandchildren, Sincere Maurice, Lauren LaShae, Maxwell Dupree, and Robert Weakly; and a host of loving nieces, nephews, and cousins.
A funeral service will be held at 1:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at Whiting's Funeral Home. Due to the current health pandemic, only 50 people may be in attendance with facial coverings and social distancing requirements. Facebook Livestream will be available for this service. Mrs. Jacobs Freeman may be viewed beginning at 11:00 a.m. until the time of her service on Wednesday.
Professional services entrusted to Whiting's Funeral Home, 7005 Pocahontas Trail, Williamsburg, Virginia 23185. 757-229-3011 whitingsfuneralhome.com
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