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Christian MacRitchie Freer ’36

Christian MacRitchie Freer ’36, June 21, 2008, in Arlington, Virginia, from pancreatic cancer. Christian transferred to Reed in his sophomore year from Pacific University. He studied classical and modern languages, and received a BA in French. With the assistance of then president Dexter M. Keezer [1934–42], Christian entered the Institute of International Education in Italy following graduation. When he returned to the U.S. in 1938, Professor Benjamin M. Woodbridge [Romance languages 1922–52] supported his efforts to obtain a graduate appointment in the Romance languages department at the University of Oregon. Christian earned an MA in 1940, after which he worked at Reed as an instructor in German, Italian, and literature. In his oral history interview with Sarah Murphy ’93 in 2004, Christian stated: “These two years, just before the outbreak of World War II, profoundly influenced the rest of my life, and for this I owe a great deal to Reed College in general, and to Dr. Keezer and Dr. Woodbridge in particular. In addition to my interest in foreign languages, I had always wanted to travel. Now, looking back at a fascinating career, which involved residence in nine different countries for periods of anywhere from 2 months to 8 years, totaling more than 20 years, visiting at least 60 more nations, and working with a dozen languages, with varying degrees of proficiency, I think how vastly different my life might have been without Dr. Woodbridge and Dr. Keezer, and others at Reed.” In 1941, the State Department notified Christian that he had secured a position as a senior translator. Within six months, he was drafted into the army and sent overseas as a special investigator for the provost marshal general's office. He spent four years as an intelligence officer with the army in the Middle East and Greece, and began working for the Office of Strategic Services. His career in intelligence continued with the Strategic Services Unit of the army, which succeeded the OSS and evolved into the Central Intelligence Group—the interim organization immediately preceding the Central Intelligence Agency. Christian joined the CIA in 1947, and rose to deputy and acting division chief, chief of two European stations, chief of the war plans staff, and chief of the planning support group. In the four years before his retirement, he inspected CIA components worldwide. After his retirement in 1973, he was unanimously elected provisional president of the Central Intelligence Retirees Association. He served as president of the Bellevue Forest Citizens' Association and a delegate to the Arlington County Civic Federation, and volunteered as a driver for FISH (For Immediate Sympathetic Help)—a nonprofit church-based group assisting those in need. Among his many commendations, Christian was recipient of the Legion of Merit and the Intelligence Medal of Merit. Survivors include his wife, Margaret Warner Freer, whom he married in 1948; two daughters; and one son. His brother, Herbert B. Freer ’36, also attended Reed.

Appeared in Reed magazine: November 2008

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