Logging began for him in 1954 at the age of 26. The Freddie B. Hale name tells a colorful story of logging in Central and North Central Florida. He lived in pursuit of a dream. Freddie fought against the odds and rose above to make a go in the timber business.
Loggers are a unique breed of men—as choppers, sawyers, scalers and truck drivers—and Freddie wore all the hats. He loved the woods despite the hard, brutal, back-breaking, 14-hour days. The smell of newly cut timber and hearing the boom of the falling trees drove his adrenaline. He used to say, “You smell and hear that? That’s the smell and sound of money, boys.” Hence the cry out “TIMBER!” Was this dream worth the struggle? Every bit… Timber, family, farm life and church consumed Freddie’s life for the next 50 years.
He lived during a time when trees were harvested to make the land tillable for farming crops that were used to feed a growing population. Those same trees were also milled to construct the buildings needed to support economic growth. Vast timberlands were granted to railroads and needed to be cleared in order for the rail builders to push forward. This was a time when the men of timber were born.
In his later years, Freddie B. Hale became a man of timber. Born in North Central Florida and raised a son of a car salesman, he inherited and worked the family’s 700-acre farm while building his dream in the timber business. There is nothing Freddie did not know about a tract of timber. He could tell you which way a tree would fall, what kind it was, about how old it was, if it was natural or planted and if it needed to be thinned or clear cut and why. It may have been simply because of the age of the tree or the fear of timber beetles that can massively destroy timber acres. It could have also been that Freddie just needed to make a dollar or two.
Freddie was known all over the timber community. Pulp wood mill workers loved him because he was either telling jokes or bringing them one of his famous smoked hams. Freddie was respected by other loggers for his years of hard work and dedication to the logging industry. He saw the industry change, grow and improve over his 50 years. Freddie was a man full of knowledge and stories, ones his friends and family loved to hear and learn from.
Married to Marjorie Ann Hale for over 50 years, Freddie and Marjorie raised three beautiful daughters with many grands and great-grands. He was a man full of life and laughter. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. With him, they certainly broke the mold…
His legacy lives on… “Our Man of Timber.”