Walter Egon Freese Jr. died on Friday, February 21, 2014, surrounded by family and friends at his home on Shelter Island. During the golden age of publishing, he was the chief financial officer of Doubleday Publishing as well as the vice president of Doubleday Sports during the Mets World Series win of 1986.
Mr. Freese was born in 1928 in Hempstead to Kathryn (née Irwin) Freese and Walter Egon Freese.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Hofstra University. After enlisting and serving as a sergeant in occupied Japan during WW II,
Mr. Freese began working in the accounting department in Doubleday Publishing’s Garden City office. In 1953 he met and married Claire McCarthy, an interior designer from Washington, D.C. They had their first son a year later with a second son and identical twin daughters to follow.
Partially in response to his children’s persistent requests and partially because their father had a soft spot for animals, various and much-loved dogs, cats, gerbils and a horse or two were added to the picture over the years.
During his 40 year tenure at Doubleday, Mr. Freese was steadily promoted, moving to the firm’s Park Avenue office and ultimately becoming chief financial officer and executive vice president of Doubleday Publishing. He loved books and authors, his family said; the family home was filled with books and his own stories about some of the best-selling authors of the 20th century with whom he worked.
Most gratifying to Mr. Freese was his tenure as vice president of sports and sitting on the Board of Directors of the 1986 Mets. He had been a loyal Mets fan since their inception in 1962 and it was his dream come true to be involved in professional baseball and to be the proud owner of the World Series ring that came with the Mets win in 1986.
Mr. Freese retired to Shelter Island in 1988. His son wrote that during his long career, he won the respect and affection of colleagues and friends through his intelligence, capability, thoroughness and his innate sense of fairness and kindness.
Mr. Freese is survived by his wife of 61 years and his four children, Walter Freese III of Bedford, New Hampshire; Richard Freese of Churchton, Maryland, Kathy Lee Junior of Stony Brook; and Virginia St. John of East Hampton. He is also survived by five grandchildren — Richard Freese,
Erin Gregon, Lia St. John, Christopher Junior and Courtney Freese — three great-grandchildren, and his cat, Caesar.
Mr. Freese was a highly principled man of great warmth and kindness; those traits endeared him to all who had the pleasure of knowing him, the family said.
Visiting hours are today, February 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Shelter Island Funeral Home. A service will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, February 26 at 1 p.m. at the funeral home.