Marshall Lon “Deacon” Freeman, the last surviving member of the Oak Ridge Quartet, which later became gospel group the Oak Ridge Boys, died July 30 in Rocky Face, Ga. He was 82.
Freeman was born in Berryton, Ga., and began singing as a child in a Baptist church. After serving with the Army Air Corps during World War II, he joined the Georgia Clodhoppers as a singer and rhythm guitarist.
The group was renamed the Oak Ridge Quartet and made regular appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Freeman left the group in 1949 because the travel kept him away from his family. He took a job broadcasting at a radio station in Rome.
In 2000, the Oak Ridge Boys were inducted into the Gospel Music Assn.’s Gospel Hall of Fame in Nashville. Freeman was honored along with current Oak Ridge Boys Joe Bonsall, Richard Sterban, Duane Allen and William Lee Golden.