BARODA — Patrick Freehling, a community volunteer and the husband of Berrien County Commissioner Teri Freehling, died in an accident at their family farm in Baroda Township Thursday, police reported.
Shawn Martin, chief of the Baroda-Lake Township Police, said the death of Freehling, 45, was the result of "a tragic farm accident."
The Freehlings were married for 16 years, and have two young daughters, who are the seventh generation to live on the farm.
Police were called to the farm on Cleveland Avenue at around 7 a.m., where a worker had found Freehling down in the barn. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Martin said there was no sign of foul play, and he did not elaborate regarding the accident.
The police are being assisted by the sheriff's department and county medical examiner, and an autopsy will take place.
In addition to working the 200-acre farm and leasing out other land, Freehling had worked at the Cook Nuclear Plant since 1999, most recently as a mechanic for the maintenance team, Cook spokesman Bill Downey said.
"We were all stunned to hear of Pat's death," Downey said. "He had made many friends over the years. Our hearts go out to Teri and all of Pat’s family at this extremely sad time."
Freehling was a member of the Baroda Township Planning Commission and the Berrien County Youth Fair board, and his wife has been active with the fair fundraising committee.
"He put the township above all else," Planning Commission Chairman Dave Schultz said. He described Freehling as "a great researcher" who listened to both sides to make the best decisions for the township.
He also called him a "family first kind of guy."
Schultz said the reaction in the close-knit community has been "a lot of shock and sadness."
A Berrien County Board of Commissioners meeting scheduled for Thursday evening was cancelled out of respect for Freehling, who has represented District 8 since 2015, when she was selected to fill an unexpired term. She has twice won election to full terms, and she serves on numerous boards.
"The prayers of the Berrien County Board of Commissioners and the Administration Staff go to our colleague Teri and the entire Freehling family," Berrien County Administrator Bill Wolf said.
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