01/20/04 — Man lost at sea just retired from O'Berry Center

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Man lost at sea just retired from O'Berry Center

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 20, 2004 2:03 PM

A Goldsboro man reportedly lost at sea over the weekend had recently retired from O'Berry Center.

Dr. Robert S. Freeman, 62, was chief of dental services at O'Berry until Jan. 1. He had seven years and one month of state service, according to center records.

Freeman reportedly left from Swansboro in his 17-foot, off-white Thunderbird boat on Saturday morning. His son contacted the Coast Guard when he did not return that evening.

Rescuers searched the area between Swansboro and Cape Lookout and up to 30 miles off shore before the search was suspended Sunday evening.

According to O'Berry officials, Freeman and wife Hilda had a house at Swansboro, where Freeman was an avid boater. The couple have two children.

Freeman's supervisor while at O'Berry was Dr. Scott McConnaughey, deputy director of health services.

"His service to the citizens of the state was exemplary," McConnaughey said today. "He was dedicated and caring as both a dentist and a leader.

"As a friend he was loyal and compassionate. Losing him to retirement brought us both happiness and sadness, but this is devastating. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family."