|Honored by:||The Hamilton County League of Women Voters|
|Brick location:||F:11 map|
June 1904 - June 1990
Diminutive and soft spoken, Freda Barker Weldon was a strong dynamic leader, a fine organizer and a lover of learning. All of her life, she believed that service is an essential part of living. In her quiet way, she loved helping people and guiding them to help themselves.
During the sixty years she her husband and two children lived in Webster City, Freda served in many ways, from the practical everyday "hands-on work" of Girl Scout leader and Sunday school teacher to participant in decision making on many boards. For many years, she served on the Central Iowa Council of the Girl Scouts, where her influence brought large gifts to Girl Scout projects. As a sponsor for the Boone Valley Housing Project, she helped plan and secure funding for elderly housing. She was on the Board of Trustees for her church and a member of P.E.O., where she was influential in inspiring a large unsolicited gift for the P.E.O. Educational Loan Fund. She was the prime leader in establishing a day care center open to all qualified applicants. For more than 20 years, she was a member of the Kendall Young Library Board of Trustees, doing much to create the atmosphere of service and good will that later led to several large bequests and many smaller gifts. World peace was very close to her heart and she was an active member of Peace Links and Beyond War.
Freda was instrumental in reorganizing the Hamilton County League of Women Voters and was its first president. The League benefited immensely from her broad experience and called on her good judgment and rapport with people to aid in understanding issues and presenting them to the public. She continually emphasized that women must understand issues so they could see the necessity of becoming involved in community affairs and government action.
Freda was intensely interested in having each person live up to his or her own potential. While she had an outstanding talent for organization and leadership, she was never a remote administrator. She enjoyed people enjoyed laughing and had an enormous storehouse of jokes and stories. Many a tense moment was bridged by her sense of humor. Her talent for writing was used in many projects, including heading publicity campaigns for school bond issues, authoring an updated history of Kendall Young Library and participating in writers' group and Travel Club.
She was an indefatigable traveler, studying countries before, during and after visiting them. She continued her education both formally and informally throughout her life and was delighted to discover Elderhostel.
Freda was born in southern Iowa to parents who were both physicians. Her mother gave up private practice shortly after her marriage to Freda's father, Dr. Barker, who was the director, physician and surgeon in a number of Old Soldiers homes. Freda grew up in these compounds in Kansas, Virginia, Maine and South Dakota, living a charmed and privileged life surrounded by dozens of old soldiers who treated the children of personnel as grandchildren. After two years at Randolph Women's College in Virginia, she transferred to the University of Nebraska and graduated with Phi Beta Kappa honors.
She taught high school English for several years before marrying Glen Weldon, a superintendent of schools. She devoted her married life to her husband and their children. It was filled with substitute teaching, raising two children and commitment to community service. Blessed with excellent health and always active, Freda was giving book talks and attending club meetings and church functions until just before her sudden death from leukemia. Even in dying, she was a gallant and courageous woman, easing the way for her friends and family with her calm acceptance.
So how was it that this gifted and capable woman emerged from a shy hesitant girl to give so much to others and furnish such firm direction for the people of her community that she became a symbol and an inspiration for them? In the words of her daughter: "Perhaps in her conscious desire to make life better for others, she turned outward that inward personality and in doing so made a better life for herself as well.”