Retiring Van Buren Mayor Bob Freeman will reflect on his 12 years of service to the city during the annual Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon on Tuesday, July 10.
The 14th annual event will be from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Butterfield Assembly of God Church.
Tickets are $15 and available the office of the presenting sponsor Shelter Insurance - Agent Casey Hess in Alma. Tickets also will be at Swaim Office Products, Joseph Rhodes State Farm and Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren. Only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door.
Freeman will step down as Van Buren mayor on Dec. 31 following three four-year terms.
After graduation from Van Buren High School, Freeman was commissioned as an artillery lieutenant in the Army. He also holds a master’s degree from the Florida Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the U.S. Army General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth and the Defense Systems Management College at Fort Belvoir, Va.
His military career spanned 20 years with various staff and command assignments around the globe. He retired with the rank of lieutenant colonel.
After retirement, Freeman returned to Van Buren and worked with Citizens Bank & Trust Co. for seven years before being elected mayor in 2006. He has served as the chair of the planning commission, member of the Municipal Auditorium Commission, member and past president of the Van Buren Rotary Club in addition to being a Paul Harris Fellow, member of the Van Buren Chamber of Commerce Board and CASA Board and United Way volunteer. He is also a graduate of Leadership Fort Smith and was inducted into the Van Buren High School Hall of Honor in 2017 and named Iverson Riggs Citizen of the Year in May.
Freeman and his wife Terry are members of Heritage United Methodist Church, where he has been a lay leader. They have two children, Sarah and David.
Keynote speaker will be Alan Swaim, a Van Buren City Council member and was the director of the Fields of Dreams Sports Complex for 17 years before retiring in 2012. In 2017, he was inducted into the Babe Ruth Hall of Fame.
Swaim is most recognized for his leadership role in bringing the Babe Ruth World Series to the Field of Dreams in Van Buren. Van Buren hosted the 2004 Babe Ruth 13-Year-Old World Series, the 2007 Cal Ripken Major/60 World Series, the 2008 Babe Ruth 13-15 World Series and the 2012 13-15 World Series.
After concluding its first World Series event, Babe Ruth headquarters was so amazed by Swaim’s accomplishments, that they asked him and his World Series committee members to host training centers for other groups getting ready to host their first Babe Ruth League World Series.
Swaim is a former board member for the Boys and Girls Club of Van Buren and Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. During his time with the boys and girls club, he also served as a coach and mentor to many young people. Swaim also served on the Arkansas State Outdoor Recreation Grants Commission.
In addition to his recent induction into the Babe Ruth League Hall of Fame, Swaim has received many deserving honors over the years, including: 2014 induction into the Southwest Babe Ruth League Hall of Fame, 2008 Babe Ruth League “Lefty Gomez Volunteer of the Year” award, 2005 Van Buren Iverson Riggs Memorial Citizen of the Year award, 2004 Sertoma Club Service to Mankind Award, 2004 Kiwanis Club volunteer of the year, 1982 Fort Smith Boy’s Club man of the year and the 1982 Optimist Club youth worker of the year.
He is the former owner and operator of Swaim Office Supplies.
George Edelen will cater the event. Blue Stripe BBQ will provide pulled pork, smoked chicken, baked beans, potato salad and water or tea.
Master of ceremonies will be Joe Hurst while Pastor Patrick Kimberland of Butterfield Church will give the invocation. The flags will be presented by the Van Buren High School Pointer Battalion and members of the K-Kids clubs will sing the National Anthem and lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Pastor Daniel Stewart will prayer for community and state leaders.
All pastors attending the lunch will offer a special prayer for the mayor before Pastor Wes Hilliard of Heritage United Methodist Church will give the closing prayer.
Kiwanis President Daniel Skipper said proceeds from the Mayor’s Prayer Luncheon help support the Kiwanis Club and its efforts to promote character and leadership skills with the K-Kids programs in Van Buren elementary schools.