Born: 1876

Died: May 16, 1961

Married: Frances Bell


John R. Freer was the president and chairman of the board of the Adirondack National Bank and a member of the Board of Trustees and treasurer of Paul Smith's College. The science building at Paul Smiths College is named for him.

From the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, May 17, 1961


Served on Bank

John R. Freer, 85, former president and chairman of the board of the Adirondack National Bank and former member of the Board of Trustees and treasurer of Paul Smith's College for more than 20 years, died at St. Margaret's Nursing Home at Gabriels last evening at 6:40 following a long illness.

He is at the Fortune Funeral Home where a Masonic service will be held at 8 p.m. tomorrow. A funeral service will be held at the Fortune Chapel at 10 a. m. Friday with the Rev. Dr. Lionel R. Driscoll, pastor of the Methodist Church officiating. Burial will follow at 4:30 in the afternoon at the Wiltwyck Rural Cemetery at Kingston.

Survivors include a cousin, Margaret Mullin, of Kingston.

Mr. Freer was born at Kingston, December 5, 1875, a son of Alonzo and Ida Tryson Freer. While a young man, he moved to Brooklyn to assist his father in the operation of a brick foundry. He later returned to Kingston, but in 1902 was taken ill and came to Saranac Lake for his health.

He was admitted to Trudeau Sanatorium where he was under the care of Dr. Edward L. Trudeau. Following his convalescence, he moved to the then Fletcher Farms in Vermontville, one of the larger cure cottages in the area at that time. While in residence at the farm, he purchased a horse, and often made the ten-mile trip into Saranac Lake where his tall, gaunt figure became a familiar sight.

During his trips to the village he became acquainted with William Minshull, then president of the Adirondack National Bank who offered Mr. Freer a position as a teller in the bank. Mr. Freer accepted and about 1910 began a banking career and in 1925, upon the death of Mr. Minshull, became president, a post he held until 1940 when he became chairman of the board. In 1951 he suffered a heart attack but continued at his banking tasks until 1957 when health forced his retirement. He has been in failing health since that time.

He was a charter member of the Board of Trustees of Paul Smith's College formed in 1937 to promote the establishment of a coed college on the site of Paul Smith's Hotel. Mr. Freer was also elected treasurer of the new college at that time and continued his association with the college until illness forced his retirement about a year ago.

His wife, the former Frances Bell, died on April 25, 1902.

Mr. Freer was a member of Elks Lodge 1508 Saranac Lake, and the Whiteface Mt. Lodge 789, Free and Accepted Masons; the Oriental Troy; Wanneta Chapter, Arch Masons and the Ad-Lake Placid.