Karl W. Freerksen Jr. JD ’63
March 25, 2015
The Honorable Karl W. Freerksen Jr. passed away on January 13, 2015, after living with Parkinson’s disease for nearly 11 years. He was born January 21, 1936, in Freeport, Illinois, to Karl Walter Sr. and Dorothy Elaine (Haines) Freerksen. When Karl was five years old, the family moved to Cedar Mill, Oregon, where he attended Cedar Mill and Sylvan Grade Schools. He graduated from Beaverton High School in 1953 with plans to become a lawyer. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in 1957, Karl served six years of active duty with the National Guard to earn enough money to attend law school.
Early in his career, Karl had a general law practice in Beaverton with eight other attorneys, constituting the largest firm in the county. He was asked in 1973 to serve as judge pro-tem under the pilot program funded by the Legislature. Karl was the last judge to be appointed by Governor Tom McCall, in 1974. He served as the presiding district judge and president of the Oregon District Judges’ Association, and in 1997 he completed the mediation course at the National Judicial College. Karl retired in 1998 after 25 years of service as a circuit judge, though he continued to serve as a judge pro-tem. He said that he found life on the bench more enjoyable than private practice, because it was more predictable. “The cases are different every day, but you generally know what they are going to be about. Also, I never had a paid vacation until I became a judge!”
Karl wed Barbara Sue VanHoutin on September 26, 1970. In 1977, they built a home north of North Plains, where they enjoyed gardening, the deer, the view of the coast range, and hosting picnics and other events. They were particularly fond of ballroom dancing. Karl’s many interests included hunting trips with his brothers, fly fishing, wood working, golfing, travel, and socializing with friends and family members.
A member of Kiwanis and the Jaycees while in Beaverton, Karl joined the Hillsboro Rotary Club in 1980 and served on the board of directors for the Rotary Foundation. He also served on the board of trustees at the Hillsboro United Methodist Church and St. Mary’s School for Boys, and was active in the Washington County and North Plains Historical Societies.
Karl was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Gerald Allan Freerksen. He is survived by his wife, Barbara; brother Gene Freerksen; sister-in-law Linda Freerksen; several nieces and nephews; and many cousins.