Dare Freeman Ford

dare ford

February 9, 1954 ~ July 24, 2023

Born in: Wadesboro, NC
Resided in: Hendersonville, NC

Hazel LuErma “Dare” Freeman Ford, 69, of Hendersonville was called to stand from her wheelchair and put on her boogie shoes as she danced her way to heaven on July 24, 2023.

Dare was born February 9, 1954, in Anson County, NC to the Late Hazel and Eugene Freeman. She often stated she had the best childhood keeping up with her three brothers on their chicken farm and being loved by her close-knit Olivet Methodist Church family. The Freeman family was completed when at 10 years old Dare finally got her adored baby sister.

In the tradition of keeping up with her brothers, Dare received her bus driver’s license at 16 years old and drove other children to school on her way to high school. She later chronicled these adventures in a book she wrote entitled, Don’t Make me Turn this Bus Around.

Since the age of 6, Dare knew she wanted to become a teacher. The summer between her junior and senior year of high school, Dare attended a summer camp at Western Carolina University. By the end of the summer, Dare was sold on attending college there. She loved every moment of being a Catamount in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Dare reached her goal to become an educator after graduating from Western Carolina University in 1975.

In August of 1975 she met the love of her life, Edmond “Keith” Ford. They were married in October of 1976, thus beginning their many adventures together. They had three children Elizabeth, Andrew, and a stillborn daughter, Anna.

Though Dare took good care of her health, she started suffering many health complications beginning in her early 40’s. However, she never let it affect her can-do positive attitude. She stayed staunchly dedicated to helping others, loving her family, and finding what good each day had to offer.

After 22 years of teaching in elementary and middle schools in both North and South Carolina, Dare needed to take early retirement due to her Multiple Sclerosis progressing at a rapid rate. She used this time to tutor children, ride all over downtown Hendersonville in her motorized scooter, and began a wonderful journey with a beloved writing group that lasted for many years. She also researched her family tree extensively and published a book about the Freeman family. In recent years, Dare began what she called her card ministry, where she made sure all the people she loved and knew would get words of encouragement and cheer for all the major events in their lives.

Always one to focus on others, she did not bemoan her own physical limitations. All her adventures after retirement were done through her sheer determination, zest for life, and the tireless dedication of her husband to be her arms and legs as she could no longer move either. Recently Keith and Dare jointly authored and published a book together called Under The Buckeye Tree. This book is the story of their relationship and walk of faith coping with a chronic illness.

One of Dare’s greatest joys in life was living long enough to know her grandchildren. Her heart was partially healed from losing her daughter Anna when she held her first grandson, Gavin in 2008. With the addition of each grandchild, Dare felt blessed beyond measure. Her Amazon cart was often filled with gifts and Doordash orders put in for her grandchildren.

In the final years of her life, not only did she contend with MS but she also developed ET, a blood disorder, and finally an aggressive rare cancer, leiomyosarcoma, earlier this year. Though her life had challenges, her faith in a loving God was strong. She spent her days not dwelling on what could have been but focused rather on what could be done with joy in the present moment.

Those left behind to cherish her memory are her husband Keith, daughter Elizabeth (Michael Ferguson), son Andrew (Porshe), grandchildren Gavin Ford, Mateo Archer, Salem Ferguson, Wrenn Ferguson, Nola Ferguson, Roman Ford, and grandson-of-the-heart Jayden Garber. Her brother Mike Freeman (Sally) of Lilesville, Her sister Rebecca Freeman of Lumberton, her sister-in-laws Cora Freeman, Nancy Freeman, Kathy Gerdes (Don), brothers-in-law Bill and Bob Ford, and many additional beloved nieces and a nephew, plus extended family and friends. Special thanks to her current earth angels Doris Johnson, Wendy Etheridge, and Marion Gowan. They along with other kind people helped make her dreams possible through their hands. Her cat Olivet will also greatly miss resting happily on her lap.

Please join us in a celebration of her life at Bethel Wesleyan Church on Sunday August 6, 2023 at 2pm.

Good work, Dare. Your beautiful spirit will live on through all the love, light, and spunk you brought while here.

It was Dare’s wish that a donation be made in her memory to either Bethel Wesleyan Church at PO Box 268, Dana, NC 28724, or Olivet United Methodist 3788 Stanback Ferry Rd, Lilesville NC, 28091


Celebration of Life: August 6, 2023 2:00 pm

Bethel Wesleyan Church
909 Tracy Grove Road
Flat Rock, NC 28731

Funeral Home Assisting The Family:

Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian
72 Long Shoals Road
Arden, NC 28704


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Memories Timeline


  1. I remember her well, always kind, always willing to help, and loved her family with all her heart.

    Elizabeth and family please know you are in my prayers.

  2. Dare, your beautiful spirit shines brightly on our earthly paths, blessing us in every way.

  3. I’m so grateful to have met you and talk to you. When I did see you you would always be so encouraging and loving. Thank you for showing me Gods love. Rest in eternal paradise sweet lady. Praying for peace and comfort for your whole family and all who loves you.

  4. She always had a smile on her face when I saw her. So glad I was able to know her and her family.

  5. What a beautiful obituary if there can be one. You will have no reason to turn the bus around now Dare. You just keep on drivin’ on and rest in peace.

  6. Keith, my heart goes out to you and your family as Dare has completed her earthly journey and is now walking with a perfect and healed body as she rejoices in Heaven. You have been the greatest husband and caregiver to her. Please take care of yourself now. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers as you walk thru this journey of grief. I regret that I will be unable to attend the memorial service, but I now live about 8 hours away. With my heartfelt thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy.

  7. Your beautiful smile and love always made my day ever since we first met at Western Carolina University until now. I’m so fortunate to have you as my sister-in-law and “little buddy”. I have always loved you as a sister I never got to have.❤

  8. Keith, Elizabeth, Andrew and family, we know your hearts are heavy but I am certain that Pastor Bob and Pat were waiting at Heaven’s door for Dare to walk through happy and healed. Dad always believed that there is a “junk” room at the entrance of Heaven for all the medical equipment that is no longer needed.

    You all will be in our thoughts and prayers. Love you all.

  9. Dare was the most inspirational person I’ve ever known and touched many lives. Our children grew together in Hendersonville. We will never forget our family along with Keith, Dare, Elizabeth and Andrew always sat in the front pew at church. Dare always had such a positive attitude. We will miss her dearly.

  10. My deepest condolences. I remember Dare from high school. Always a kind person 🙏🥰😢

  11. Dare: my childhood buddy, an adventurer, a dare-devil 🤣, a risk-taker, a fighter for every underdog in her world, family historian, a people-person, genuine and true…all these things only BEGIN to describe who she was…such a rare gem in today’s world. She lived her life with determination and seized every moment as long as she was able. And (in later years) all of the causes she championed with enthusiasm with the help of her life-long love, Keith. I recall her telling me once (during a rough time during their courtship) that if she “…couldn’t marry Keith Ford…”, she simply wouldn’t marry anyone. Ever. She loved him dearly, and he loved her with equal devotion. I believe that he shared his energy and enthusiasm in the most generous way- with his unfailing participation in everything Dare so valiantly pursued during her years of confinement in her earthly body. Her interests were his priority. She is whole and perfect now. Rest In Peace, my beloved friend.

  12. Keith, and all your sweet family, Dare was so special to me, her family, and so many others. She was such a bright light, source of faith, so strong with her unconditional love of God, and all that knew her. She will always be in our hearts and so loved! Thinking of you all, love and prayers!
    Ginny 🙏🙏💕

  13. I will always remember you from school days and always seeing a beautiful smile on your face. You seemed to never meet a stranger and you put anyone at ease just being around you. Prayers for your family.

  14. Dare was an energetic student who always had positive thoughts for her peers….She was destined to be an educator of the highest quality . 😔

  15. Keith, I am so sorry to hear of the passing of Dare. She was one special person that will be missed. I enjoyed the book you two wrote and think of you often.

  16. Hazel LuErma Dare Freeman, you will be missed! Although we have not seen each other since our high school days at Bowman Senior High School (now Anson High), I remember her cheerful take on life and the distinction as being a friend to all. Dare was a beacon of light and full of energy. I can see from the posts that wonderful spirit followed her throughout her life! My thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends.

  17. We are so sorry to hear of sweet Dare’s passing. Our prayers are with you all. Such a beautiful lady.

  18. Thanks Dare for wearing that sweet sweet smile. While enduring the precious life you and Keith shared. You were always inspiring with a Beautiful soul. Will continue to keep your family and friends in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. It was a blessing to know Dare and to have her teach my children . She was such a kind person with angelic qualities that will never be forgotten .
    My prayers are with you all .

  20. Dare was one of my college roommates and I have to say she was my favorite. I remember her smile so well and her twinkling eyes. Her stories of driving a school bus and growing up on the farm had me laughing so often. I haven’t seen her since our days at Western Carolina University but I look forward to seeing her again in eternity. Blessings to her family. I know you were well loved.

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