NGU News

Retired NGU Vice President and CMSF Founder Buddy Freeman Dies

Posted on: October 3, 2023
By LaVerne Howell,

Tigerville, SC (October 3, 2023) Dr. Charles W. “Buddy” Freeman, a retired North Greenville University (NGU) administrator who launched the university’s Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund died Sunday, October 1, 2023. He was 83.

Freeman’s ministry career spanned more than six decades. He served as a pastor in North Carolina before becoming Campus Minister at Gardner-Webb College in Boiling Springs, NC, in 1968. He spent the next 11 years at the Baptist institution, actively discipling students who would enter careers in ministry leadership. Following seven years as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Marshall, NC, he returned to Gardner-Webb as Dean of Admissions in 1987, serving in that role until he joined NGU as Vice President of Admissions in 1997. He retired in 2007, but returned to NGU in 2011 as director of the Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund until 2013. After departing NGU, he served another tenure as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Marshall.

Freeman founded NGU’s Christian Ministry Scholarship Fund during the 1997-98 academic year to provide an avenue for donors to support students pursuing careers in full-time ministry. In 2022, NGU celebrated the fund’s 25th anniversary and announced that the CMSF endowment had eclipsed $5 million.

“Buddy Freeman invested his life in creating opportunities for college students to use their gifts and abilities to glorify God,” said NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr. “He discipled students, he prayed for students, he prayed with students, and he encouraged others to support ministry students. His influence is greatly multiplied because of how he consistently invested in the lives of students.”

“We are blessed to be part of Buddy’s legacy of faithfulness,” President Fant said. “His ministry will continue to yield fruit through North Greenville University.”

Born in Conover, NC, Freeman graduated from Bethware High School in Kings Mountain, NC, and earned an associate’s degree from Gardner-Webb Junior College in 1962 before completing a bachelor’s degree from Carson-Newman College in 1964. He earned a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1967. NGU awarded him an honorary Doctorate of Christian Leadership in 2008.

“Buddy Freeman walked with God and spent his life investing in people, particularly students. I was blessed to be one of those students,” said Dr. Steve Crouse, NGU Senior Campus Minister, who has served as an administrator at NGU since 1991.

“I met Buddy when I was 14 at the North Carolina Baptist assembly. I was drawn to his walk with God, his personality, and his sense of humor. He recruited me to go to college,” said Dr. Crouse, a 1976 Gardner-Webb University graduate. “What a joy it was to serve at NGU with Buddy for 13 years. For the last 50 years, he has been a mentor in my life, teaching me how to love God, invest in students, grow in my prayer life, and enjoy the gift of laughter. I pray that God will use me to continue to invest in students as Buddy invested in me.”

A noted storyteller with a keen sense of humor, Freeman was a popular banquet speaker across the Carolinas. He wrote and spoke extensively on the subjects of prayer and pastoral care.

Freeman collected numerous books on the subject of prayer, and donated more than 1,000 books on prayer to NGU in November 2017. The Buddy Freeman Prayer Library is housed next to the Miller Bible Museum in the university’s Averyt-Wood Learning Center.

“In conversations with Buddy through the years, you didn’t talk with him long before he got around to something about prayer. Prayer was on his heart, and that is a great motivation in his life,” said Dr. Walter Johnson, dean of NGU’s College of Christian Studies, during a ceremony celebrating the donation.

Dr. Freeman was preceded in death by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Coley Freeman along with his two sisters and two brothers. He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Dr. Gayla Lowery, his son, Charles Freeman and wife Becky, his daughter, Deborah Harris, grandson, Michael Harris, granddaughter, Mikaila Hopper, great grandsons, Knox and Kreed Hopper as well as a sister-in-law and several nieces. 

A service of worship in celebration of Buddy’s life will be held in the sanctuary of Patterson Grove Baptist Church 301 Oak Grove Rd. Kings Mountain, NC 28086 on Thursday, October 5, 2023, at 11:00 am. Burial will follow the service. The family will receive friends after the graveside service. 

In recognition of Dr. Freeman’s life and legacy, President Fant has directed that all NGU flags be flown at half-staff through sundown Friday, October 6, 2023. A commemorative wreath has been placed ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­at the entrance of Hayes Ministry Center on NGU’s Tigerville campus.

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