Ray and Marjorie Freeman’s projects and art have been carefully documented, but they do not have to go far to see their work in its full splendor.
“We decided to make plazas out of vacant lots that had been destroyed by the tornado,” Ray said.
Shortly after, the Freemans started painting their iconic murals. Ray is a retired doctor who decided to splash his white coat with color in the years that followed the devastating EF3 tornado that barreled through Hale Center in 1965.
He and Marjorie spearheaded the Hale Center Beautification Association by restoring the town’s most damaged areas and dedicating more than a decade to adorning the walls of downtown with more than 20 hand-painted murals.
“This was not just a mural project,” Ray said. “It was a beautification project.”
Marjorie photographed Ray and his team’s progress and was their designated runner.
“If they ran out of white paint, I’d have to run to Plainview to get paint,” Marjorie said.
But as their large-scale projects continued, she too found herself with a brush in her hand.
“I wasn’t necessarily a painter, but I learned,” Marjorie said. “First thing I knew, I was up on the ladder.”
Many of their murals depict Hale Center in its glory days or were inspired by paintings the Freemans have seen during their trips around the country.
“We wanted them to be historical in nature and not look like graffiti when we got through,” Ray said.
Though much time has passed since the Freemans took on this endeavor, the memories they have of their very first masterpiece are etched right on their hearts.
“We had flowers,” Ray said. “The first year, we had flowers and they were all blooming. It just made a beautiful scene.”
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