Joan MacKillop Freeman, 80

January 8, 2024

Joan MacKillop Freeman, of Concord, passed away on December 12, 2023.  She was born to John Angus Mackillop and Dorothy Jamieson Mackillop on September 2, 1943 at Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge. Her parents were keen that she attend medical school after graduating from Cambridge Latin High School, but Joan had other ideas and majored in English Literature at Tufts.

In 1966 Joan met John D. Freeman at Cronins’s, the Harvard Square pub where she was waitressing. They were married the next year at the Harvard Chapel and then set out for 12 years of working and travelling in Latin America.

Their daughter Nina was born in Brazil in 1973, and three years later Stephanie was born in Costa Rica. The family’s extensive travels across Latin America yielded a bounty of artifacts, including textiles, retablos, and quipus, procured in remote villages. Joan never met an open-air market she didn’t like and would spend hours haggling with local merchants.

In 1986, the family (and her beloved cats) moved back to Concord, MA. Joan experimented with different jobs ranging from teaching English, pressing apples, selling furniture, and arranging flowers, a business she started with a friend which turned into a life-long interest.

Joan joined the development office at United Way which led to opportunities in major gifts and development. She raised millions of dollars at Harvard Medical School, Boston College and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, from which she retired.

In 2000, she and John purchased their beloved home on the Penobscot Bay in Brooksville, ME. Maine was their happy place, and they had many years of friendship and peace in a quiet, lovely part of the world.

Joan was always on the go, indulging a wide range of interests including travel, reading, gardening, ikebana flower arranging, baking, antiques collecting and the arts. Her interests were fickle, and her daughters recall short-lived but intense phases of bagel-making, chair caning, cake decorating, needle point, and topiary-making.

Joan will be missed tremendously by her daughters Nina Freeman Brown (Alex) and Stephanie Cady (Matthew), her four grandchildren, her siblings Peggy, Dottie and John and brother-in-law, Geoff and sister-in-law, Marjie. She will also be missed by Frankie and Alice, the last two in a great line of cats, who have been lovingly taken in by new parents.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to The ARK Pet Shelter in Cherryfield, ME.

Arrangements are entrusted to Dee Funeral Home & Cremation Service.   For Joan’s full obituary and online guestbook, please visit