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Tarsh Freeman, Jr., dedicated astronomer, college teacher, husband, and father, died 19 January 2018 at the DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was 66. Born on 15 September 1951 in Oakman, Alabama, Tarsh (“Junior,” as he was affectionately known by family members) was the eldest son of the late Rev. & Mrs. Tarsh (Ruby Deloach) Freeman. He grew up in a loving home with his siblings Mr. John (Edda) Freeman of Florissant, Missouri, his baby brother who preceded him in death, Mr. Herbert Freeman, and his sister, Ms. Silvia Freeman of Florissant, Missouri. As an adult, Tarsh often reflected on his childhood by sharing many memories of his numerous cousins, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, Godchildren and friends. He has two aunts, Mrs. Isabella Freeman of West Palm Beach Florida and Mrs. Laura Freeman of Pell City, Alabama.
Tarsh attended Oakman High School. He received his BS degree in Mathematics with a minor in Physics from the University of Alabama, and subsequently his Master’s degree in Mathematics. Before launching his career as a teacher, researcher, and academic mentor, he worked both in a tire manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa and as an Alabama State Trooper in North Alabama. After obtaining his degree, he taught mathematics classes at Stillman College, in Tuscaloosa, and tutored athletes from every sport at the University of Alabama. At the time of his passing, he was a mathematics faculty member at Bevill State Community College.
Tarsh’s professional interest in astronomy arose from several courses he had taken at the University of Alabama. He participated in collaborative research with Alabama astronomers Gene Byrd and Ronald Buta, and Sethanne Howard, now retired from the U.S. Naval Observatory. With his co-authors, Tarsh managed to successfully simulate the two-way spiral arm pattern of NGC 4622, with its single inner leading arm and outer pair of trailing arms, by modeling the passage of a smaller perturbing galaxy through NGC 4622's disk (Astron. J. 135 (2008): 408–413). His other publications include additional analyses of Hubble Space Telescope images of NGC 4622; numerical simulation of the structure of the ringed galaxy known as Hoag’s Object, in Serpens (Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy 108 (2010): 23-34); plus a series of articles on the arm structure of the spiral galaxies NGC 3081 and NGC 4378. He presented his group’s results at a number of astronomical meetings.
Tarsh married the love of his life, Dr. Hazel Evans Freeman, on 18 December 1981. He called her his queen and he treated her like royalty. They had three children, their “princesses”: Miss Jacqueline Christy Freeman of Pasadena, California, Miss Heather Ashley Freeman of Madison, Alabama and Miss Brandi Alison Freeman of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tarsh’s love and respect for his in-laws was profound. His in-laws include: the late Mr. Walter Evans (father-in-law); the late Mrs. Sallie Evans (mother-in-law); the late Mrs. Poole Mack Evans (grandmother-in-law); two sisters-in-law, Ms. Gloria Evans of Detroit, Michigan, Ms. Jacqueline Evans of Uniontown; and nephew-in-law Derrick Ezenwelu of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.
Tarsh was an enthusiastic weight lifter, winning several statewide competitions in power lifting, once “deadlifting" over 600 pounds. He loved flying single-engine planes, comparing different versions of the Bible, building model rockets, debating any subject, and UFO watching. Tarsh confessed hope in Christ at an early age and united with the New Bethel Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. Jones. Upon moving to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he united with a local church where he was active in Sunday school, choir, and Baptist Training Union. He loved reading, studying, and teaching the word of God.
Astronomer Sethanne Howard expressed her sentiments at the loss of her longtime colleague and friend: “Tarsh was a rare treasure. I am so honored to have worked with him, not only in astronomy but also giving talks in schools. He was so proud of his family. I remember how he would bring special BBQ for lunch at school with his daughters. I have so many wonderful memories. I was there when he gave his first astronomy talk in Chicago and wowed that audience. My heart misses him.”
Photo: Hazel Evans Freeman
Obituary written by: Hazel Evans Freeman, Alan Hirshfeld (University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth)
BAAS Citation: BAAS, 2018, 50, 016