Aileen Sallom Freeman

29 Jan 2020 | 12:20

Aileen Sallom Freeman (Mrs. Murray Fox Freeman) of Scranton, Pa., died unexpectedly Saturday evening, Jan. 18, at Moses Taylor Hospital, Scranton. She was 90.

Daughter of Dr. Abdullah Khalil Sallom, a Philadelphia physician, formerly of Kousba, Lebanon, and Alice McWilliams, she was born in Philadelphia.

She led an exciting and varied life – from distinguished and accomplished artist, to china shop owner, historian, author, public utility manager, newspaper reporter, and author an additional eight times. Educated at the Baldwin School, University of Pennsylvania (bachelor’s degree in psychology) and the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts (as an artist), her graduate school instructors included luminaries such as painter Andrew Wyeth and sculptor Walker Hancock.

Her marriage to Murray Fox Freeman of Gladwyne, Pa., son of Edgar Wells Freeman and Alice Winton Murray, and great-great-grandson, one of the founders of Lackawanna County, Pa., would forever change and shape the remainder of her life. Her son, Richard Murray Sallom Freeman, was born June 25, 1965, and by the early 1970s, there was a fine china pottery that she had created – with unique porcelain china items in homes of distinction such as the British Embassy, Washington, D.C.

The pottery lasted but a few years, by which time she had discovered the true history of the creation of Lackawanna County as memorialized in a set of scrapbooks of newspaper clippings assembled by her husband's great-great-grandfather – Aretus Heermans Winton (AH Winton) a Scranton lawyer, widely credited with his father, William W. Winton, for the creation of Lackawanna County. Her discovery prompted the writing of her first book, AH Winton, in 1977, that told the story of the county's creation. This book was then serialized on the front page of The Scranton Times during the summer of 1978 to celebrate and re-tell the county's unique political history.

Subsequent research in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in several more non-fiction works, including Anthracite Trust – the story of the massive businesses that were once headquartered in Scranton and the county – businesses that controlled huge areas of the United States and the world. Her writing skills were tapped by Austin Burke, of the Scranton Chamber, to author the chamber's history of the City of Scranton, and by the Lackawanna Historical Society. As demonstrated by many additional books, her love of writing and desire to tell the story of the Golden Age could not be diminished.

The early 1990s had her busy managing her husband's family business interests which included real estate and public utilities. Although approaching 70, she enjoyed shopping at construction equipment supplier Medico for road cutting saws or backhoe teeth, followed by an afternoon lunch date with her friends; or, out at a pave cut, overseeing the utility crews on a cold winter evening as a water main was repaired (bringing the crew coffee and donuts at times). Later in the decade, she busied herself as beat reporter covering Pike County for The River Reporter, Narrowsburg, N.Y., and The Pike County Dispatch of Milford, Pa., managed by her son.

Her love of history continued into the current century, and her books included the story of the Jessup Family missionary activities in Lebanon and Syria, as well as the area's involvement in bringing Abraham Lincoln to power. The majority of the family business interests subsided with the sale of the family's interest in Moosic Mountain to SLIBCO, at the request of her friend Austin Burke, which created the present day Valley View Business Park in Jessup and Archibald. Her husband passed away, literally, the day after the family signed the papers to sell their interest in the mountain to the chamber.

Her last historical writing appeared during 2014 in the Lackawanna Historical Society bulletin, telling the story of her mother in law, Alice Winton Freeman, her Egyptian travels, and her mother in law's wedding of the year in Scranton. Her mother-in-law had visited the tomb of King Tutankhamun just prior to its opening by explorer Howard Carter. Old family photos that had been sent to her showed her mother in law at the tomb, and she dutifully reprinted everything in the LHS Bulletin.

She is survived by her son, Richard Murray Sallom; several cousins; as well as her husband's relatives.

Visitation was held Jan. 24 at Teeters' Funeral Chapel, Hawley, Pa., followed by a funeral service with Pastor Tony Schwartz officiating. Interment beside her husband was in Forest Hills Cemetery, Dunmore, Pa.