Sol Freed, born Dec. 1, 1928, passed away Nov. 12, 2023, following a brief illness, just shy of his 95th birthday. Sol was born in Dallas, the fourth child of Dave and Eva Freed. He was a graduate of Forest High School, where he was a varsity tennis player and all-around athlete. Following high school graduation, he attended Texas A&M University before leaving school to join his father and siblings in the business that became Freed Furniture Company.
In 1950 he married his childhood sweetheart, Doris Barish Freed, and began a loving marriage that lasted 71 years until her passing in 2021. Shortly after their marriage, he was drafted into the U.S. Army, where he served in Korea and Japan. He was proud of his service, but happy to get back to Dallas and Doris.
He served in virtually every capacity inside Freed’s Furniture including a stint as president of the company, but all that he ever really wanted to do was sell and usually deliver furniture. From the early 1950s through the mid-1990s he was probably the most prolific salesman of furniture in Dallas history. He was the go-to person for home furnishings.
While he was encouraged to join and serve on numerous boards, both for profit enterprises as well as nonprofits, he never had the patience or attention for them. He was totally consumed with building Freed’s and making customers happy.
In the late 1960s, he and his next-door neighbor began buying ranch land in northwest Colorado. This became the impetus for what is now T-Slash-Bar Ranches in Bexar and Medina counties. While he was never an outdoorsman, the ranches instilled a passion for the outdoors and Western way of life for his son and Eagle Scout grandsons.
In the early 1970s, he encouraged his brother-in-law, Marvin Barish, to leave his existing career and purchase a small outdoor furniture retailer in Houston, The Chair King. He was extremely proud to see The Chair King grow into the largest specialty retailer of its kind in the U.S.
Following the sale of his interests in both Freed’s and The Chair King in the mid-1990s, his semi-retirement consisted of establishing a personal office in the Market Center area, where he continued to help his friends and customers source home furnishings, as well as selectively provide inventory to multiple furniture consignment retailers. It is estimated that he placed some 10,000 pieces of furniture to consignment stores.
He was preceded in death by his wife, parents and siblings. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Billy and Cheryl, of San Antonio; and his grandsons, Tyler (wife Leslie) of Houston and Russell of New York City. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
The family would like to recognize and thank his physician, Dr. Phillip Aronoff; his trusted assistant Norma Cummings; his caregiver, Jean Watson; and the caregivers of FMS Blessed and Helping Hands.
A memorial service and reception took place Nov. 15 at Congregation Shearith Israel. Please consider a donation to Congregation Shearith Israel, The San Antonio Zoological Society, The Texas Cavaliers Charitable Foundation or a charity of your choice.
Ralph Martin Hockley
Ralph Martin Hockley, Colonel, U.S. Army Ret, born Oct. 17, 1925, in Karlsruhe, Germany, died in Dallas Nov. 8, 2023. His life was part of 20th-century history. When he was 8, his family emigrated to France due to Nazi persecution. When the Nazis occupied France in June 1940, his father was interned in several camps in France, including Gurs. Ralph (then known as Rudy) was thrown out of school but then worked as a volunteer office boy for the American Quakers. U.S. Vice Consul Hiram Bingham, who saved some 2500 Jewish refugees from his post in Marseille, France, assisted Ralph’s father in being released from the Gurs Camp in March 1941. With the aid of the American Quakers and Hiram Bingham, the family was able to escape France and get to the United States.
In December 1943, Ralph joined the U.S. Army (changing his name from Rudolph Martin Hockenheimer) and became a U.S. citizen in May 1944. In early 1945, as one of the Ritchie Boys, he was sent to France and then Germany, where he became an intelligence sergeant and counterintelligence special agent. He returned to the U.S. and attended Syracuse University, where he was awarded his degree in Russian area studies and political science in June 1949. In 1950-1951, he served in Korea for 14 months as an artillery officer in the worst battles during seven campaigns, from the Pusan Perimeter to Heartbreak Ridge. Korea was followed by intelligence assignments in the U.S.A. and Berlin, Germany. He served simultaneously in the Army Reserve and as a civilian intelligence officer after the Korean War ended. He retired from the Reserve in May 1979 as a full colonel. His military awards included the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the Meritorious Service Medal. He also received the Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Medal for his many years in a civilian capacity for the U.S. Army in Europe. On Nov. 17, 2021, the French government awarded him its highest order, The Legion d’Honneur, for his lifetime activities on behalf of France and specifically for serving as a U.S. Artillery forward observer with the French UN Battalion in the Battle of Heartbreak Ridge in 1951 in the Korean War.
Ralph was the author of “Freedom is not Free,” published in 2000. He was always eager to take on leadership positions. In 1943 at age 18, in New York, he became secretary for the Free French Youth. In 1948, at 22, at Syracuse University, he was the chairman for the city of Syracuse of the United National Appeal for Children. And for over 70 years he was active in ROA (Reserve Officers Association of the U.S.). He served as European Department president. Then, back in the U.S.A., he held various offices in the ROA Departments of California and Texas. From 1982 to 1984, he served as president of the San Francisco Chapter of NARFE (National Association of Retired Federal Employees). From 1998 to 2011, he was very active in the 2nd Infantry Division, Korean War Veterans Alliance, holding the offices of secretary and president for many years. His wife, Carolyn, was the administrator of that nationwide organization at the same time. He also was a member of the Lone Star Chapter, Korean War Veterans in Houston. World affairs and U.S. politics were his most important “hobbies.” They worked together for democracy in the true sense of the little “d”!
Ralph and his late wife, Eva, née Frankel, born in Germany, met in Oakland, California, in 1955. Eva escaped the Nazis as a 5-year-old from Berlin through Portugal with an aunt and uncle during World War II. Ralph and Eva had two children, Clifford and Denise, both born at the U.S. Army Hospital in Berlin, Germany, when Ralph was assigned there working in intelligence for the U.S. government. Eva died in 1983. Ralph married Carolyn Glover Harris and they were married over 38 years.
Ralph is survived by his wife, Carolyn Hockley; Clifford Hockley and wife Julie; Denise Hockley; Kris Harris and spouse; Heidi Hargis and spouse; Kirk Harris; 13 grandchildren; and 16 great grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Dec. 10 at Congregation Shearith Israel, 9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas.