August 31: Isabel Coleman Freeman (1929)

The generocity of Isabel Freeman and her sister, Margaret Buckingham, played a significant role in the undergirding of Epiphany’s ministry in the first half of the 20th Century. Isabel was the second child, first daughter of William Grigsby Freeman and Margaret Coleman Freeman. Isabel’s father was a military man, who died when she was 15. Her mother was the heiress and part owner of an iron furnace business in southeastern Pennsylvania. In the 1850’s, Isabel’s mother and aunt purchased a home in Washington, which is today the parish house for St. John’s Church, Lafayette Square. It’s hard to know what drew the family to Epiphany. Isabel’s aunt became a big supporter of the Epiphany Church Home. Isabel and her sister seemed to have followed in those footsteps, supporting a variety of Epiphany ministries. Two of their gifts that are still prominent today are the parish house (1911) and the bells in Epiphany’s tower (1922).

The family moved between homes in Washington (DC), Cornwall (PA) and Bar Harbor (ME) depending on the seasons. Isabel’s death occurred at the end of August, a time of the year when the family would have been living in Cornwall. Her funeral was in the library of their home there. After her sister’s death many years later, a series of stained glass windows were installed at Epiphany depicting Matthew, Chapter 25 (“For I was hungry and you gave me meat…”). The accompanying plaque reads, “In loving memory of Isabel Freeman and Margaret Buckingham, Whose faith and good works are woven into the life of this church.”

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