Anne Wallstrom Freitas (1943-2012)
In January 2011, a very special Billings alum passed away, Anne Wallstrom Freitas. She was diagnosed with ALS, after two long years with undiagnosed symptoms. She fought a hard, courageous battle, and was supported by her loving family, Billings family and many life long friends and the organization Compassionate Care ALS. Anne died on January 15th, 2011. She was a daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother, friend and wore many caps at Billings over the years. Anne was a valuable, active member of the Camp Billings board of directors for many years and her many talents will be greatly missed. Anne met her husband John at Billings when they were only 6 years old. They were both there to drop off older siblings. Anne and John met again when they attended camp in 1951 together and continued their friendship. Anne was a camper and CIT and continued on as the senior counselor in cabin four for many years. She worked on the water front and later became water front director and with husband John, Directors of Billings after Ralph Lawrence retired. Anne attended Wheelock College and graduated in 1964 with a degree in elementary education. She taught school for a few years in Vermont and Massachusetts. John and Anne married in 1967 and after moving back to Auburndale, Ma. (where she grew up) she started her own daycare program. Anne and John stayed close to camp.
They were eventually asked to be the water front directors in 1973 and raised their three children at camp summers, Johnner 39, Beth 37, and Kate 33. Anne was a second mother to many. For years she was the senior counselor in cabin 4 (now 5). Anne and John were waterfront directors from 1973 to 1990. Together they made Billing’s waterfront safe for many children through the years. Anne learned much of what she passed on from her very enthusiastic teachers, Conrad Hubert and Charles Crowley, as she worked on the waterfront with them from her CIT years through to being a member of the senior staff. She did so much to organize and direct the waterfront activities on a daily bases as well as organizing many boat tests to make sure that the Camp Billings swimmers passed the most difficult swim test of their young lives. She did this by helping them become confident swimmers and voicing support for them all along their swim. She taught children to be proud of their accomplishments and work hard to achieve them.
She and John became Camp Billings Directors from 1996 through 2000. Together they helped camp work through a very difficult time following the microburst in 1996, their first year as directors. Anne and John kept every child and staff member safe and kept camp open for the summer, even though there was considerable damage... an amazing feat. In a very short time, they had camp cleaned up and a large tent brought in to take the place of the rec building, Dartt Hall, which was demolished. As directors they continued to run camp as a safe and healthy place for young people to summer. After fi nishing as camp directors they both became members of the board of directors. Every Spring Anne made herself available weekends to head up to Billings and clean out the many gardens and replant them with new flowers for the upcoming camping season. Whenever someone was needed at camp to check on things or meet with someone, John and Anne always made themselves available to help out. Anne worked with Bob Green to help make his transition as director a smooth one and continued to be a wonderful support to him. Anne was always working to improve Billings for the next generations. She never expected nor wanted any mention of all that she did, choosing to do everything behind the scenes.
Anne played a huge role in many reunions, but she was especially invaluable during the preparation for the 100th celebration and the 105th, and as a young camper she was there for the 50th! Her knowledge of camp and assistance in all areas of the reunion as well as the actual weekend were invaluable. She and John ran the daily programs for the weekend and Anne helped in the kitchen and at registration as well as being the treasurer. The last reunion must have been especially hard for her as she could no longer speak. Although unable to get around she still attended and greeted people at the 105th, she wrote answers to all kinds of questions, held the meetings at her home and helped out as treasurer. Her good humor and help never waned. John, her daughters, and mother helped her with this also. When Uncle Ralph died and we decided to have a memorial service at camp, she was there with her help once again.
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