Marie-Therese K. Freeman

Published 7:28 am Thursday, May 17, 2018

RALEIGH, NC – Marie-Therese Andre Madeleine Knecht Freeman, daughter of Henri Knecht and Blanche Madeleine Gauvain, was born in Nancy, France, on March 22, 1933. As a young girl, she would often help tend to her father’s neighborhood store. She also enjoyed competitive horseback riding. But at seven years of age, she and her country endured the Nazi occupation of France. Her family made the courageous decision to provide shelter to a Jewish family. Therese, with many other children, was forced to go into hiding in the caves of France. After the war, she attended secretarial school and met Henri Vallance. They had one child together and the marriage ended.

A few years later, she met Larry Freeman Sr., an Airman with the United States Air Force. They moved to the United States, were married, and settled down in his hometown of Plymouth, North Carolina. After a few years, they relocated to Ahoskie, NC. In 1981, she became a naturalized American citizen, one of her proudest accomplishments.

After 20 years of marriage and two additional children, they divorced, and she moved with her children to Raleigh, NC. After a variety of jobs in the hospitality industry, she established a successful cleaning business. However, her lifelong dream was to own and operate a French restaurant. This dream came to fruition in 1993. She ran Jean-Claude’s Café for 10 years to great critical acclaim and became a self-taught chef in addition to her responsibilities as owner. After the restaurant’s closure, she worked at several hotels and eventually secured a position at SAS Institute, a job she was very proud to hold. In 2013, she retired and moved in with her daughter’s family who cared for her every need. Around this time, her battle with dementia progressed. After a couple of years, she was admitted to Siler City Center, where she was greatly cared for in her final years. She passed away on May 15, 2018 at the age of 85, hours after a lovely visit from family and friends.

She is preceded in death by her sister, Annette Knecht Charles, her sister Jacqueline Charles Knecht, and her son Keith Vallance Freeman.

She is survived by her brother, Jacques Knecht of Frejus, France; her daughter, Lorraine Freeman Qualle and husband Paul of Raleigh, NC; her son, Larry Freeman Jr. and wife Heather of Shrewsbury, NJ; her daughter, Lorraine Freeman Qualle of Raleigh, NC; and her grandchildren, Lexie Qualle, Ethan Qualle, Madeleine Freeman, and Jackson Freeman. She will also be greatly missed by her niece and nephew, Pascale Knecht Favre and Didier Knecht (who reside in Paris, France and Warsaw, Poland, respectively) and their families. She will also be missed by countless other family members and friends here in the US and abroad.

The funeral for this beloved lady will be held at 1:30 pm, Friday, May 18 at Saint Raphael Catholic Church in Raleigh, NC. The family will greet guests in the atrium during the hour preceding the funeral mass. Flowers can be sent to Saint Raphael Catholic Church or donations can be made in memory of Marie Therese Freeman to the Alzheimer’s Association.

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