PETERSBURG, VA 23803-4220
(804) 732-8911


Dena B. Abbott Freeman

September 26, 1918 - July 31, 2012

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Mrs. Dena B. Abbott Freeman of 6800 Lucy Corr Village Health Care Center in Chesterfield, Virginia peacefully departed this life Tuesday, July 31, 2012. Formerly living in Petersburg, Virginia, Dena Freeman was born in the City of Petersburg, Virginia on September 24, 1918 to the late Thomas and Bessie Wynn Branch. When she was born her three older siblings, the late Fannie Edden, the late Bessie B. Hawkins and the late Theodore “Pete” Branch each gave her a name. Hence, her birth certificate reads, Dena Lee Dolly Beatrice Branch.

Prior to her declining health, she was a faithful member of Gillfield Baptist Church, where her father was a deacon and her mother was actively involved in Sunday School. The values and guiding principles instilled governed her approach to parenting and raising three children, all baptized at Gillfield. While at Gillfield, she was involved in the Parrish Club, serving as a model in several fashion shows sponsored by the church. She truly enjoyed her Gillfield family and the myriad number of relationships formed while attending the church.

Dena Freeman attended and graduated from D. Webster Davis High School, which was located at that time on the campus of Virginia State University, formerly known as Virginia State College for Negroes. She furthered her studies at the college, graduating in 1945. As an educator, she taught for thirty years with the Petersburg Public Schools. Away from the world of work, Dena enjoyed playing cards with several pinochle clubs and was a member of a social organization known as “Les Amies.” Prior to moving away from the Petersburg area, she was a member of the Retired Teachers’ Club of Petersburg and Vicinity and the VSU Greater Petersburg Area Alumni Association, receiving in 2009 a “Golden Trojan Award “ for graduates reaching the age of 90. Recently she became a life-time member of the Virginia State University Alumni Association. Her life was also enriched through travels outside of Virginia to such places as New York, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, New Orleans, and Hawaii.

Dena is survived by her husband of 44 years, Phillip L. Freeman of Chester, Virginia; three children, Vera Abbott-Young of Chester, VA, Valarie A. Jones (Chester) of Richmond, VA, and Edwin “Spike” Abbott of Laurel, MD; grandchildren, Dr. Ericka Shani’ Young and her newly adopted son, Christopher Michael of Chester, Virginia and Brent Young of Los Angeles, California; Jordan and Jared Abbott of Laurel, Maryland; sister, Vera B. Gaskin of Woodbridge, VA; cousins, Grayce Townes and Bill Townes (Mildred) both of Petersburg, VA, and Dr. Delores Green of Richmond, Virginia; niece, Dena Gaskin Bost and her daughter, Lauren Bost of Woodbridge, VA; nephew, Winston Gaskin (Lula) of Fairfax County, Virginia and their daughter, Channee Gaskin of Virginia Beach, Virginia; and a host of other relatives and friends.

A funeral service will be held for Mrs. Dena B. Abbott Freeman 11:00 A.M., Monday, August 6, 2012, at Gillfield Baptist Church, 209 Perry Street, Petersburg, VA, the Rev. George W.C. Lyons, Jr., Pastor, Eulogist. The interment to follow at the Dinwiddie Memorial Park.

The family will receive friends one hour prior to the funeral service at the church. The family may be contacted by calling (804)272-3098 or (804)530-3192.

In lieu of flowers the family request that donations may be made to the Virginia State University Foundation, VSU Development Office, P.O. Box 9027, Petersburg, VA 23806,in memory of Dena B. Abbott Freeman.

Family members and friends are invited to pay final tribute to Mrs. Freeman at www.jmwilkersonsince1874.com.

Funeral arrangements entrusted to the staff of J.M. Wilkerson Funeral Establishment, Inc., 102 South Avenue, Petersburg, VA, (804) 732-8911, www.jmwilkersonsince1874.com.