Floral 02
Official Obituary of


September 16, 1936 ~ February 29, 2024 (age 87) 87 Years Old


Lavern Brassell Freeman transitioned from her earthly body to her heavenly home on Thursday, February 29, 2024. Lavern was born on September 16, 1936, to Lawrence Brassell and Amelia Dukes in Lafayette County, Mississippi. She was the second youngest of six children and adored by her older siblings. Lavern was lovingly called "Sister", "Vern", and "Auntie" by her family. She loved her family, and they loved her immensely. Lavern accepted Christ at an early age at Harrisonville Missionary Baptist Church. She attended the segregated Oxford Training School in Oxford, Mississippi until she left to marry. To that union two children were born: Rudley Leland and Arlean Leland. After her divorce, Lavern met and married the love of her life, Billy Ray Freeman, Sr., and they increased their happy family with the birth of Billy Ray Freeman, Jr. and Kim Lavern Freeman. They were happily married for forty years until Billy Ray, Sr. passed away on December 3, 2000.

Lavern was a profound woman of faith. Her faith never waned, and she remained steadfast throughout her life. She worshipped at the Community Missionary Baptist Church from 1964 through 1978, when she followed her husband to his church Beth-Eden Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Rev. James L. McNabb, where they worshipped as a family unit until 2000. She later joined St. Mark Baptist Church where she served faithfully until her health declined in December 2023. While a member of St. Mark, "Mother Freeman" as she was fondly called by the congregation, served on the Missionary Board and the Nurses Ministry. Her children teased her about her weekly visits to see the "seniors" in the nursing homes throughout the City of Gary, since she herself was an octogenarian and in her 80's.

Lavern valued education and impressed upon her children the importance of a strong work ethic and receiving a degree. She was overjoyed in 2005 when she celebrated the graduation her grandson, Travis one week and two weeks later she was celebrated the graduation of his mother, Kim. She bragged to friends and anyone who would listen that she had four high school diplomas and four college degrees, including a law degree and a Masters. Of course, these were the achievements of her four children.

Sister's home, Mrs. Freeman's house, Auntie's Vern's house was always a safe haven for nieces, nephews, and neighborhood children. She was forever available to listen to problems or concerns and offer her advice. Matthew 7:12 "So in everything do to others what you would have them do to you". Lavern had an unwavering trust in the Lord and believed God would take care of EVERYTHING. She said, "while we were busy thinking it out, God had already worked it out". An avid homemaker, she always had a homecooked meal waiting for her husband after a hard day's work at Inland Steel Mill, and for her family and guests. Her favorite dishes included fried chicken, fried fish, mac and cheese, the best cornbread dressing EVER potato salad and any type of greens (collards, mustards, or turnips).

.Lavern possessed a delightful sense of humor, which she passed on to her children; she maintained her sense of humor until the very end of her life. Upon seeing her oldest daughter on February 20, 2024, at her bedside in the hospital she quipped, "Arlean... what wind blew you in?" Lavern was fiercely independent and even after the neighborhood changed, she absolutely refused to move out of her beloved homestead on Burr Street, where she lived for more than 60 years.

Lavern's life was enriched by her many hobbies and interests. She read her bible and the Daily Word each day as soon as she rose and had her morning cup of coffee. She would be found sitting at her dining table with books open reading the Word of God. Gospel music played softly in the background twenty-four hours a day, even while she was watching her favorite gameshows, "Wheel of Fortune" and "Family Feud". She would call her daughter, Kim and they watched and solved the puzzles together each evening. Lavern was an avid Chicago Cubs fan and prayed for their success every season. God finally answered her prayer when the Cubs won the 2016 National League Championship and eventually won the World Series which ended a 108 -year World Series drought. Lavern was over the moon with joy ! She enjoyed church activities, her annual beach vacations with her children and "going South" for family reunions in Oxford, Mississippi. It is without question that Lavern's eight (8) grandchildren and eight (8) great-grands were her pride and joy.

LAVERN was preceded in death by her parents, Lawrence Brassell and Amelia Dukes; her beloved husband, Billy Ray Freeman, Sr.; her son, Derrick Bryant Freeman; and her five siblings; Riley Brassell, Hattie Mae Brooks, Maureen Cohran, Gene A. Brassell, and Mevelean Warren.

She leaves to cherish precious memories: her children, Rudley Leland of Merrillville, Indiana, Arlean Leland Esquire of Washington, D.C.; Billy Ray (Cecilia) Freeman, Jr., of Gary, Indiana, and Kim Freeman (George) Wade of Charlotte, North Carolina; her sister, Mrs. Lorene Mitchell of Gary, Indiana; adopted sister, Pat N. Brassell of Oxford, Mississippi; her grandchildren, Rudley Leland, Jr, Imani Anderson, Keenan R. Leland, Chanel Giden, Kia M. Freeman, Dericq M. Freeman, Travis R. Theus, and Whitney A. Wade; her great-grandchildren, Imani Jr., Kylie, Brennyn, Rashad, Kristin, Niah, Ryan, Skye, and Noah; and a host of nephews, nieces, and friends who will miss her deeply.

Visitation Friday March 8, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. with Homegoing Services 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. form Ridgelawn Funeral Home 4201 West Ridge Road Gary, Indiana 46408. Interment Ridgelawn Cemetery 4401 West Ridge Road Gary, Indiana 46408.


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March 8, 2024

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Ridgelawn Funeral Home
4201 West Ridge Road
Gary, IN 46408

Homegoing Service
March 8, 2024

11:00 AM
Ridgelawn Funeral Home
4201 West Ridge Road
Gary, IN 46408


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