Who Was Bruce Freeman?
We look at the man behind the name of the trail that officials want to move into Concord.
We have profiled the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail before on Patch, most recently talking about it in relation to a Board of Selectmen decision. But some readers have wondered who Bruce Freeman was. What follows is the answer.
Freeman was born in 1921 in Watertown and went to high school in Newton, he served in the Army during World War II and later became an insurance salesman.
A Chelmsford Republican, he was first elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1969, where he served until his death of cancer on June 18, 1986.
There he was known for a number of initiatives, including sponsoring Massachusetts’ first drunken driving law, a law requiring sloped curves for the handicapped on sidewalks, and obtaining $4 million to help restore Chelmsford’s Crystal Lake and nearly $1 million for local mental health and senior services.
However, his legacy relating to the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail began in 1985, where he began to help advocate for a rail trail being proposed by local residents along the abandoned Penn Central railroad line stretching from Lowell to Sudbury.
According to the Friends of the Bruce Freeman Rail Trail, Freeman was excited to have a trail in Chelmsford comparable to other trails he had seen and experienced with his family such as the Cape Cod Rail Trail and the Coyote Creek Rail Trail in San Jose, CA.
He left behind his wife Daphne, who continues to work on the construction of the Rail Trail, as well as a sister, four children and three grandchildren.
Currently the trail stretches from Lowell to the intersection of Acton Road, Carlisle Road and Concord Road in Westford and is planned to be extended through Westford into Carlisle, Acton and Concord within the next 10 to 15 years, with a planned third phase to extend into Sudbury and Framingham after that.