What a difference 50 years of goodness makes...


Over the last 50 years many lives and situations have been blessed because of the lives of Joe & Isabel Free. They will tell you it is the Lord that has blessed them, and that is true. However, they have lived their lives for others and that results in great blessings because they are doing His work. How appropriate that on this 50th anniversary they find themselves on the other side of the world and equator in South Africa on their 3rd mission.

Help us show them how much of a difference the Lord has helped them make in so many lives. Please click on "add new comment" once or twice or as many times as you want to record memories of a difference you are aware of. (if you don't see "add new comment" please choose "register")

We also need your help to spread the news far and wide so that on the 9th of September it will take all day for them to try to read the impact they have had.

Come back often and read of what others have shared, it might prompt some more memories to share.

Please include who you are and how you came to know them as you share your memories.


ps-Some have asked if they could give something. It is not necessary, but if you feel that you would like to give a gift, beyond your memories, we have set up a fund where you can donate. This fund will be used by Joe & Isabel to "make a difference" in the lives of some wonderful friends in South Africa. Just click on the "donate" button to the right.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

50 Warm, Wonderful Years

We want to wish you the warmest of greetings and congratulations on your 50th Wedding Anniversary!

Warm is one of many words that come to mind when I think of the difference you have made in my life. Memories of a very warm and caring Brother and Sister Free come to mind as I think of Joe and Diana's courtship and marriage. We felt that warmth every time we entered the Free home or whenever we met you on campus, in local stores or at a family gathering in a nearby park. With that warmth always came a feeling of love and caring that penetrated right to the heart.
As a mechanical engineering student I came to feel that same warmth in the classroom. It wasn't until my last semester of my senior year that I was able to enjoy Dr. Free as my instructor. Automatic Control Systems was the topic, but it really could have been just about any topic because I was truly being taught each and every day that I entered that classroom. The Spirit of the Lord was present during those lectures as we were pushed intellectually by a caring professor who wanted his students to understand and be able to apply what he was teaching. Frequently, after presenting a principle to the class he would look at the class, individually, looking for the "question marks" on our foreheads. As he assessed whether we were grasping the concept presented he would draw out of us our questions and lead us towards an understanding of the principle. What a warm teaching environment to enjoy each week.
So on this 50th anniversary please know that half way around the world we still feel the warmth that the two of you radiate.
With Warmest Wishes,
Kirt, Brenda, Julie and Steven Jamison


My earliest memories are of the unique christmas gifts they made. It was always fun to look forward to the next year as they were all so very special. I also remember the car that opened in the front. It was always fun to stop by their place on our way to or from Salt Lake and enjoy the delicious food; cinnamon rolls, fresh fruit, cookies always so willing shared and you knew they cared about each one of you. There was always lots of conversation but it was directed at each individual needs, and the family board that honored someone’s birthday or special occasion. The rooms in the house that were all different colors according to how the individual wanted to decorate. There seemed to always be an extra living with them, or being taken care of by them.
While at college they welcomed us in whenever we wanted to come. You could just stop by Uncle Joe’s office and he would help or take you home with him for a visit with the family. Once I was asked to stay with the children for the weekend. It just happened to be the weekend the rabbits had babies and with all my city up bringing I didn’t have a clue what to do when the adult rabbits started eating the babies. I thought for sure the children would never forgive me for letting so many babies die.
Then when I was married, Aunt Isabel was there for me as I became a mama. She encouraged me in my nursing, answered all my dumb questions without making me feel stupid and let me call anytime of the day or night.
Yes, I have some wonderful memories but probably most of all is their love and dedication to our Father In Heaven and His son Jesus Christ. Their example as members of the church, always giving and giving and giving and learning and teaching and sharing. Thanks so much to both of you for some wonderful memories and strong testimonies.

Love, Wanda


hey grandma+pa,
i have so much to be thankful for, the gospel and it being part of my life from day 1, the atonement, christ example, but most of all i have families around the world. not just relatives, real family. i have had 6 dads and 5 moms, some people dont even have 1. the lord has blessed me so much and even more because you have been one of those people that i am glad to call my mother and father. i love you both so much and i hope that you have a great anniversary.

Happy Anniversary from Jim & Vanae

Dear Joe and Isabel,
I always knew you had some very special children and I know you know this too. So because of them this special anniversary will be great for both of you.

We have been thinking about this for a few weeks now, and I still don't know where to start. I guess it all starts when you lived across the street from the church. We were in the same ward and it was such a treat for us to become friends with the Free family. We have been very thankful all of these years for that friendship. As I talk about some of these times I am sure they will not be in order as they happened.

We had become such good friends by the time you moved to Boston it was a very hard time for me to loose such a good friend. It seemed like you were going to be gone forever, and it just about was. We looked forward to your letters (I can't remember what I have done with them), to hear about Boston and all of the places you visited. I still can't imagine what it must look like with a piano going up the side of a building to go through a window to your apartment. I am thankful you had your piano and kept the good music in your home and in your voice Isabel, so I could feel better and enjoy and be covered up a little while singing in the ward choir side by side.
We didn't get to visit on the phone very much in those days because it was too expensive, but the times we did, we could hardly say goodby. I remember we went through our pregnancies together with Denise and Rachel. I remember when we got the word that Rachel was born and I was telling others about her, I wasn't sure how to pronounce her name, until one of our phone conversations.

As the time was getting closer for you to be coming home you asked us to start looking for a home for you. We were still renting and you said to find several acres of ground a long ways away from anybody else with 2 houses. So you could live in one and we could live in the other. We didn't do too good on that one, did we? You seemed to be happy about the Collins home on 4th South because it was still in our ward. But we never got our homes in the country.

Do you remember the camping trip we made up to Aspen Grove (now Timpanogos campground). We took my parents tent top trailer. It was a big trailer, but we had it full. I think Joe & David had to sleep on the floor. You two were in one bed and we were in one and the girls shared the table bed and couch. It was crowded, but we sure had a good time.

I wonder if it was because Joe and Jim were raised close to the same area in Nevada that we became good friends. Jim remembers one time when Joe's family helped his family when their car broke down going or coming from Stake conference. Whatever it was I am thankful for that friendship.

You and the Bensons and us had some good times together. What has happened over the years that we have grown apart. Do you rmemeber the day trip we all took together to Salt Air. That was a fun time.

We love and appreciate your love of our Heavenly Father and the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are thankful for a very good and loving Bishop Free, that our children still love and have great memories of. I am thankful for the example and love of a special Relief Society President named Sis. Free.

During the years of our friendship we learned to love your parents, Isabel, and your brothers and sisters. I could always feel the love your mother even had for me. Often I almost thought of them as part of my family. We also learned to know some of Joe's family, Duane and Uncle Lory.

You both have made our lives and that of our children better. You helped us to have stronger testimonies of the Savior. We will be Eternally Grateful to you. Thank you for love and example and friendship.

We are happy for email so we can enjoy your mission too. At least I do know how to get email on my computer, even though I'm not too good at putting into it.

Happy Anniversary! Love always as Friends Forever,
Jim & Vanae

Sweet memories from Arden & Alene Rowley

Dear Elder and Sister Free (Joe and Isabel to us)

We appreciate this opportunity of sharing our memories with you in South Africa on your 50th anniversary. It goes back so far that our precious memories are fading. Our ward was blessed when the Joe and Isabel Free family moved into our Orem 4th Ward on 400 South. Your friendship, knowledge of the gospel and kindness was a blessing to all of us. To have a professor from B.Y.U. living in our ward along with Burton Kelly was an uplift to us common, hard working farmers.

Some of our children were close to the same age, especially Marilee and Terrilynne. Marilee was such a happy-go-lucky girl, we loved to have her in our home. They even went to college at Rexburg together, along with Mary Beth Cox. What a threesome they were.

Your home on 400 South still looks beautiful because of the remodeling you did on it. You were close friends and neighbors to the Bensons that we loved so much.

I remember Isabel being called as our Relief Society President. You strengthened the lives of all the sisters with a loving and caring attitude. You blessed the lives of all sisters in our Ward.

Joe, or Bishop Free, if we remember right you called us on a mission to San Jose, California. By the time of our farewell testimony Burton Kelly was our Bishop. We will always be grateful for the mission call. Many times now we reflect on our mission and say it was when we were on our mission, or right after our mission. It was an important time in our lives. We were younger then and that made it easier. When we returned home 18 months later the 4th ward had been divided and we were placed in the 8th ward with John Stevens as our Bishop. We really missed seeing our old timers of the 4th ward. President William Cox released us from our mission.

Since you have moved from our stake, we have missed seeing you at our Stake Conferences and other places. Our daughter Christine & Glen Mitchell said that they saw you at their Park Stake Conferences. Christine and I did see and visit with you one day while you were out walking for your exercise. Now you are serving as missionaries for your third mission. We admire you so much for your efforts and setting such a good example for the rest of us.

Vanae shared an email letter you sent to them of Feb. 05. It spoke of a talk given to the young missionaries, including you young people, given by Elder Richard Scott. And again at a Stake Conference when the stake was being divided and another meeting when he was addressing singles of the stake. You were so impressed by his talk and his testimony that it strengthened ours just by reading your letter. One of the issues he stressed was overcoming or not holding on to the past and false traditions which were holding them back from joining the church, the True Church. It really strengthened our testimony by your testimonies. This was the most inspiring and testimony building testimony we have felt in a long time. Your talk about visiting with a non-member couple who had just heard Elder Scott's talk and how impressed they were. You told them that Elder Scott was an apostle of God just like Peter or Paul or James or John. They said it was true and we know that our prophet Gordon B. Hinkley is a prophet of God just as Peter, James or John. It was a most inspiring thought unto us. We loved it. Our vision for you both is that your next calling will be that of Missionary President in South Africa. We love you both so very much.

Arden and I are doing quite well. Our age is catching up with us. Arden will be 87 in December and in April I will be 85, but we are going strong in our slow way. We get up each morning, eat a meal or two a day, mow the lawn once a week and do other chores, then go back to bed at night thanking the Lord for our blessings, especially that we are still together and will be forever and ever.

May the Lord continue to bring you and your family blessings each and every day and that each of you will recognize those blessings is our prayer.

Love always, Arden and Alene Rowley

Happy Happy Anniversary

What a wonderful idea! I can feel Joe's bear hug as I greet you. Thank you so much for being a wonderful Aunt and Uncle. I've always felt so loved and welcome in your home - just like one of the family. "Come in, let's see what we can find to eat while we visit." The wonderful smell of bread, rolls or those delicious cinnamon rolls! Isabel, I have so many recipes you've shared with me that I still use - frozen peaches, homemade ice cream, rolls, applesauce cookies - the list goes on. Remember the spudnuts at Timp Lodge? Enough for the whole Worthen gang - I'm sure we ate 3-4 each!
Thank you for sharing your testimony and love of our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ. Three missions! What an example you've set for all those who know you.
I love you both! Happy Anniversay - who could have guessed we'd be celebrating in Africa.

50th Wedding Anniverary

September 7, 2005

What a great opportunity this is to wish you both, Happy Anniversary! That is quite a milestone. When we think of friends the first we think of are you, Just like one of our favorite songs. “What greater gift dost thou bestow, What greater goodness can we know Than Christ-like friends, whose gentle ways Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.” For worthy friends whose lives proclaim Devotion to the Savior’s name, Who bless our days with peace and love, We praise thy goodness, Lord, above.”
During the last 20 something years we have been blessed to know both of you. We will never forget that first Sunday when we sat down in Church with you family in front of ours. We knew that day therewas a family we could learn so much from. Thank you for your great example to us. Isabel has been an especial blessing to Julie. Those many years that we walked together were a great blessing. Not only in the activity part of it but of the choice friendship that was forged. Through good times and the bad,. we helped to strengthen each other.
You both have been such a good example to us. We appreciated all the hours that Bishop Free spent in our behalf. Even the callings that we had that challenged us to the max were appreciated after they were completed.
Have a wonderful day and know that special friends are thinking of you today.
Delbert & Julie Merkley

50th Wedding Anniversary

Dear Joe and Isabel,

It is a privilege for me to help honor you on this wonderful occasion. Joe has had such a large impact on my life. When I came to BYU, 23 years ago, I felt a lot of pressure and uncertainty about being able to "make it." As a new faculty member Joe blessed my life in two ways: he became a mentor as we joined forces with Rick Balling to create some world class optimization software, and he gave me the reassurance, encouragement and supportive environment I needed to be successful. The memories of vigorous discussions about optimization and trips to present short courses will always be cherished by me. And as a young faculty member I appreciated more than I let on when you would put your arm around me and say "we are glad to have you here."

Later we were able to serve in an on-campus stake together. I consider one of my main contributions to the stake introducing you to John Tanner and Scott Cameron. I can still remember after a get acquainted interview with you, Scott Cameron turning to John Tanner and saying "Wow!".

Now I sit in a position I never imagined I would be in--that of Dean--and I think this never would have happend without you, Joe--without your encouragement and friendship and the way you make people believe in themselves.

I am glad relationships can be eternal because I look forward to a friendship with you and Isabel for a long time. Thank you both for your example.

Your brother, Alan Parkinson

Wow! Security finally let

Wow! Security finally let me through the door. The crowds outside were so long. Everyone wants to come in for a hug and a squeeze and your famous smiles and always warm greetings. How blessed I feel to be your little sister! From the days long ago when the cupboard was made for me to the more recent year when a phone call in the middle of the night awoke me to tell me you loved me and had been praying for me.

My kitchen is much cleaner due to the lessons from Isabel that a can or package opened should go straight to the garbage once opened and emptied. And we can not forget the day I sat at the little red children's table with a mirror and curlers and was told I needed to learn to do it myself. We can't forget the special trip home from Boston to be in attendance at Gary and I's wedding or the Thanksgiving trip with Dick and LaRue and family in Boston. It doesn't matter the memory or the place I felt loved and special.

Chuck came home from the hospital with very long fingernails and very dry skin until Aunt Isabel clipped the nails and rubbed him down with lots of baby lotion. My first experience with BYU football was lots and lots of rain and we were chilled clear through and so grateful to stand infront of the fireplace at Joe and Isabel's. Oh my, I can't take so long and go so far back the memories just flood on. Thank you for those memories, but most especially for your examples of family life,righteous living, and service, love, and patience.

Fifty years is a long time and its okay for you to look into each other's eyes and feel a great accomplishment, but only the beginning of an eternity together.

Joe, I can't leave without saying that when you look at me I feel you can see straight through me and it humbles me and places a desire within me to do better, to be more Christlike.

With all the love, prayers and service that you have rendered to me and mine, I pray that I can emulate your example.

Happy Anniversary!

I am delighted to join your reception line! Joe Free has always been an inspiration to me and an example of a true gentleman. As department chair and then associate dean, I saw him in many challenging situations. What a joy to work with -- such a humble and sincere man is hard to find. And what is more amazing he was also lots of fun. He could cheer up the gloomiest mood. His influence will also be an ideal in my life. Your dear wife was also so charming and kind. Thanks for the wonderful memories!

With love, Elaine