Stanley M. Freehling, trustee emeritus and Chicago arts patron, 1924-2019

Trustee Emeritus Stanley M. Freehling, an investment banker and revered patron of the arts in Chicago, died Sept. 20. He was 95 years old.

Freehling served on the University of Chicago Board of Trustees from 1983 to 1989 and as a trustee emeritus from 1989 until his death. He served as a life member of the Smart Museum Board of Governors and a member of the Court Theatre Board of Trustees as well as a member of the Division of the Humanities Visiting Committee and a life member of the Art History Visiting Committee.

Freehling had a distinguished career in business, serving for decades as a senior partner at Freehling and Company. He was committed to civic life in Chicago, particularly in the arts, known as the city’s “patron saint of the arts” and “the third lion” of the Art Institute of Chicago, in reference to the famed lions at the museum’s entrance.

Freehling raised millions of dollars for institutions including the Art Institute of Chicago and Ravinia Festival and played a significant role in the success of these two organizations, among many others. In 1985, U.S. President Ronald Reagan appointed Freehling to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

Freehling served as founding chairman of the Goodman Theatre/Chicago Theater Group, a life trustee of the Board of the Art Institute of Chicago, and president of the Arts Club of Chicago. He also served as an emeritus trustee of Northwestern Memorial Hospital, the Shedd Aquarium, Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Public Library Foundation and The Cradle.

A Chicago native, Freehling was born in the city’s Hyde Park neighborhood, attended the University of Chicago and received his bachelor’s degree from Stockholm University in 1947.

Freehling is survived by three children, Maggie, Debbie and Robert; as well as five grandchildren and a great grandchild. He was predeceased by his two brothers, Julius and Herbert; and his wife of 64 years, Joan Freehling, who died in 2011. In keeping with UChicago board tradition, a memorial resolution in honor of Freehling will be presented at the board meeting in November.