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.

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Uncle Joe and Aunt Isabel

It is a thrill to be able to pass through the line at this reception in honor of your 50 years of marriage. What a wonderful family you have that can put this reception together. I was only 6 on this day, but I do have memories. Maybe it is only the pictures, but I remember the evening in the backyard on 6th street. What a special day for you and what great examples you have always been to us. Of course it brings back thoughts of Grandma and Grandpa Great and how we miss them. She had such control of the reception I'm sure.
The memories are many and we congratulate you on these 50 joyous years of service. Service not only to your family and the Lord, but to all the Lord's family. We have such special memories of visiting the orchard and the trampoline and the cinnamon rolls and the fun rooms in the basement. We continue to enjoy memories as you share with us your missionary experiences. We still want to grow up and be just like you. We have much to learn, but your letters and example inspire us.
Steven & Margaret Terry

With much appreciation...

The Crites Family 2004

Greetings from the Crites Family! I have greatly appreciated my association and friendship with your wonderful sons. I know them all, they are great men and I enjoy being with each of them. I know they learned how to be great by following the teachings of the Savior, the teachings they received from their parents. Your affect on my life, though friendship and dealings with your sons, has been for good and I anticipate that it will continue in wonderful ways. Thank you.

Additionally, Dr./Brother/Elder Free, I have not forgotten your exceptional manner of teaching. I've seen it several times. I remember well a graduate level course in modeling that you taught and your careful and insightful ways of stepping through examples and bringing understanding. I also remember attending a baptism of one of your grandchildren here a number of years ago, Melinda or Joseph, and the clear teaching given directly to that child and indirectly to the rest of us in attendance. I've tried to be a more effective teacher by using methods I've seen in effective, impactful teachers that I've been associated with. In particular, there have been a few that I have paid particular attention to, made particular effort to be more like. You have been one of them, mentoring briefly, but I hope effectively. Again, thank you.

Three missions! How wonderful that you've shared yourselves so freely, enjoyed the years so deeply. Congratulations on your first 50, it's plain to see that they've been good ones, lived in goodness and blessed with the same. Best wishes to you on this very special occasion.

Ever your brother,

Dan Crites

Thanks for the encouragement

A few years ago, when my kids were smaller, it was a time when sleep was a very prized commodity, I was constantly up to my eyeballs in laundry, and I held on to my patience by my fingernails. I wondered sometimes why I was a mom, and why I had wanted it so badly. We arrived for our annual trip to Panaca, I was so excited to see all the family that had beat us there. I gave Uncle Joe a hug and he looked in my eyes and said, "How is the young mother in Zion?" His question reminded me of the answer to my own quiet question of what my purpose was at that time. I thought, "I am raising God's children, teaching them to make choices so they, and we, can return home to Him someday." I already knew it, but had temporarily forgotten. Maybe my thoughts were clouded by the eggs thrown in the dryer, the Desitin coated child, or the 5 gallon bucket of rice spread through 3 rooms. Whichever the case, my dear, sweet, Uncle Joe, snapped me back to consciousness of mind, and once again, an attitude of gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the blessed life that I lead. Even now, I relish a nap, but try to remember a bigger picture. Thank you SOOOOOOO much for your dedication to the Lord, His spirit which oozes from your being, and the great example you are to me. I love you.

Jennifer Roberts

Oh, the difference your lives have made...

At a time of turmoil in my life, you were there. With a divorce looming from my parents and my little world seeming to fall apart in every direction, my anger and frustration first pointed to the Lord, and when things weren't getting 'fixed', I lost belief that there was even a Lord to turn to.

That's when I moved in with you. Your quiet example and sweet ways started me back on the right road. Isabel, you always had church music playing in the kitchen. There was always family prayer and scripture study. Family home evening was a definite. Then, when I finally talked to you about my disbelief, your testimony was strong enough for me to lean on until I could stand on my own. I began trying to trust again, and hoping that the Gospel was true. I realized that I needed to make a list. Everything I put on that list was something that I KNEW to be true. I had to be careful to only put things on my list that I was sure not to question any more. But once I put it on the list, it was there to stay - it was true. I remember the day that I put "the Lord is REAL" on my list. I felt so good! I had worked hard, learning from your example, to gain that knowledge. I don't question it any more. I haven't ever questioned it since I put it on my list. And I was able to put it there in large part due to your example and teachings while I lived there.

I've since served a mission, married in the temple, have a beautiful son and a lovely daughter on the way, have taught gospel doctrine, missionary preparation, and been the young women's president among other callings. And in each calling, I have passed the news along that the Lord is REAL. The Gospel is REAL, it's TRUE and it WORKS.

I can pinpoint the time that I chose the right path at an extremely vulnerable time in my life - and that was when I lived with you. So thank you. Thank you for living the way you knew you should. Thank you for having the spirit of the Lord in your home to bless me. Thank you for raising a daughter that could be my best friend for life and someone that I could continue to look up to when you are away. Thank you for your patience with me and loving me unconditionally.

Bless you.

All my love,

Your Special Day in Johannesburg

Elder and Sister Free,

Congratulations! We are so thrilled to have you in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission. What a wonderful place to celebrate 50 years of marriage. We are glad we can help you celebrate just a little bit.

You are doing so much here to prepare the next generation of leaders for the Church in Africa. Your impact will be felt for many, many years to come. You diligence, commitment and spirituality are examples for all of us.

I am impressed by your family's creative way to help you celebrate your anniversary even though they are far away.

All the best to you,

President and Sister Bowden

Happy Anniversary from Bruce & Trudy Norman

We are happy to share our greetings on this wonderful occassion. We have never thought about having to celebrate our 50th and now we are only a couple of years behind you.

Your visits to the mission office were always a delite to the couples there. We enjoyed our time serving with you in SA, Trudy with the medical end of things, and I helping to provide your needs, and helping with your moves.

Have a wonderful anniversary. Hope to see you again soon.
Bruce and Trudy Norman

Happy Anniversary!! I hope

Happy Anniversary!! I hope this comes as a wonderful surprise for you. . .there were so many times I nearly spilled the beans. I think you are such wonderful parents and such a great example of enduring love for everyone to see. I hope your day is incredible!! I (we) all love you! Elizabeth

"Ah, ha. . . .GRANMA!"

Just wanted you to know that Brandon still know his "granma" - and those are his exact words upon seeing your photo. He sends his love and kisses, and leaves his sticky fingers and messes here. . .in your home. . .it's all good.

I love you both!

You guys are so special to me. I don't know what I would do without you. You guys are always so thoughtful and kind. So have a nice celebration for your 50th anniversary. Love, Lauren

"Zzzzzzzz. . . ."

Mandy is sleeping right now, but we know her "Zzzzz. . .'s" are filled with love for you. Just think - she'll be up when you get up - thanks to this late nap - I think I'll just send her on over. . . (giggle, giggle)