EAST COVENTRY >> James B. Frees II, a member of the Owen J. Roberts School board for more than eight years, died unexpectedly on Thursday at age of 46.
“Mr. Frees was kind-hearted and will be remembered for his generosity and unsurpassed commitment to the students of the Owen J. Roberts School District,” Superintendent Susan T. Lloyd wrote in an announcement about his death posted on the district’s website.
A resident of East Coventry and a 1989 graduate of OJR High School, Frees served on the school board since December 2009. Frees has served as chairman of the school board’s finance committee since 2010 and served as board president in 2014 and vice president in 2012.
A banker most recently employed with First Citizens Community Bank in their Narvon office, Frees was sworn in to his third term on the school board in December.
“He was like the foundation of our school board,” Lloyd told Digital First Media, noting that he had just helped steer the creation of the preliminary budget for the coming school year.
“And he was a third generation board member. His father and his grandfather on his mother’s side both served on the board,” Lloyd said.
Frees was a member of the OJR Music Parents Organization and assisted the OJR High School Marching Band in numerous ways from moving equipment, driving the equipment truck or pulling the trailer to serving as announcer at the Fall Preview and Annual Cavalcade.
Frees founded and served as president of the Coventry Rugby Football Club. He was a member of the Famous Bucktown Boosters. He also served as a member of the board of the Charlestown Playschool.
State law gives the school board 30 days to find a replacement for Frees on the board.
Lloyd said the first meeting at which the school board could discuss the matter is Feb. 5, but given that is also the day for Frees’ funeral, she said it is more likely the board will take action at the Feb. 12 meeting.
“It’s up to the board to proceed on that how they see best,” she said.
In the meantime, said Lloyd, “we are saddened by this loss to our school community and wish to extend our deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences to the Frees family, relatives, and multitude of friends.”