Lena Beatrice Freeman

Lena Beatrice Freeman, known for her adamancy in balancing her professional accomplishments with her devotion to family, passed away peacefully on the evening of November 19, 2011 in her Quincy home. In the company of her children and grandchildren, she lost her long but courageous battle with multiple myeloma, cancer of the bone marrow. She was 68.

Born Lena Beatrice Hall on September 14, 1943 to Vashti O. Withers and Jesse Hall Sr., Lena was a native of Covington, Tennessee. The family moved to Boston, Massachusetts in the 1950s. Lena graduated from Dorchester High School, married, and started a family soon after. 

With even-toned skin, high cheekbones, and even higher aspirations to pursue modeling, Lena was a print model in high demand during the 1970’s.  After earning a cosmetology degree from the La Newton School of Beauty, she went on to become one of the first African American women to be a hairstylist at Boston’s exclusive Saks Fifth Avenue.

Lena valued education and constantly pursued it despite raising six children.  She earned a nursing degree from the School of Practical Nursing of Boston. She worked as a nurse at Boston City Hospital as well as the Veteran’s Hospital, where she provided excellent care and a healing touch to many patients in need.

Lena was a dedicated financial aid officer at the University of Massachusetts, where she helped students finance their education until her retirement.  Her affiliation with the University facilitated many of her children and grandchildren to become graduates from the institution.  Lena was near the completion of a Bachelor in African American Literature when her health started to decline.

Lena’s zeal for her life enabled her to triumph over polio as a young child and chronic heart disease in her early forties, giving us more time with her.
Lena will be remembered as an intelligent, classy, and charismatic woman who sought to improve her life and the lives of those around her until the very end. Her influence as the matriarch of the Burnett/Freeman family will have an impact for generations to come.

Her legacy will be carried on by many descendants including her children: Edward Burnett Jr., Carol Burnett, Gary Burnett, Till Freeman IIII, Carnell Anthony Freeman, and Candice Joy Freeman. She is also survived by her grandchildren: Ciera Dawn Burnett, Brittany Monique Lattice Burnett, Shante Nicole Nixon, Shanon Nicolas Nixon, Till Javon Freeman Sheffield, Justice Dion Burnett, Keotti T.L. Freeman, Keemani T.L. Freeman, Akili J. Miranda, Joshua L. Dos Santos, and Serena S. Silva. Lena leaves behind many siblings including: Dorothy Wilson, Arthur Dowell, Jesse Hall, Hazel Jackson, Christine Green, Alma (Musette) Offley, Gordon Ashton Hall, Eddie Hall, Joel Hall, Anthony Hall, Cynthia Hall, and Valerie Hall. She will also remain in the hearts and minds of her daughter-in-law, Luiza Freeman and a host of family and friends.

She will be sorely missed.