Paul Randolph Freeman, age 71, passed away Jan. 7, 2021, surrounded by his loving wife of 45 years and their three children. Paul was preceded in death by his loving parents Shirley and Bernie Freeman.
Growing up, Paul attended Morningside Elementary School and graduated from Grady High School in 1967.
Paul was an entrepreneur from the beginning. He opened his first business, a lemonade and cookie stand in elementary school, and then went on to selling promotional pins at high school sporting events. He was very proud of how successful they were.
Paul carried that entrepreneurial spirit on to college. He attended the University of Georgia, where he got off to a rough start trying to balance living life to the fullest and studying for class. After almost flunking out, Paul went on to graduate with honors in the top 5 percent of his class with a coveted degree in accounting. Innovative at the time, Paul was always looking for opportunities. In college, he started selling room-size rugs for college dorms and later expanded his sales to other colleges and high schools. Paul traveled to Dalton to buy his merchandise and instantly made a friend with the vice president of a major carpet mill.
Even at such a young age, Paul was very influential. He convinced this vice president to go into business for himself and the vice president has been thanking Paul ever since. There are countless examples of how Paul paid it forward. He had this innate ability to see an opportunity when people came to him needing help and providing his clarity and expertise to solve their problems and accomplish their goals. He helped start computer learning centers, paint manufacturing companies, countless restaurants and many others.
The greatest example of this is when a friend introduced him to the founder of Floor & Décor, a hard surface retail superstore. The founder came to Paul with an investment opportunity that was risky at the time with no history or track record for success. Paul invested and became a very active board member. As they grew and took on monetary partners, Paul fought to keep the company on track and the founder in charge, and was a major factor in their success. Today Floor & Décor is publicly traded and has a market cap of over $10 billion.
Paul’s true passion, though, was real estate. After college, Paul went to work for a small real estate and development company as an accountant. He quickly realized that the money was in selling and not counting it. Paul navigated his way through the hyperinflation ’70s and ’80s. In the early ’90s, he started his first high rise in Destin, Fla. Although the economy was still shaky, Paul forged ahead. While other bigger development companies faltered, Paul came up with a unique financing opportunity that allowed him to quickly sell out his high-end nonrental condominium, a first for the Destin area. From there, he built three more high rises in the area. He learned from each one and was committed to make each one nicer than its predecessor.
Born and raised in Atlanta, Paul loved the city. He grew up as a ’70s child and was known by all his friends as the “King of Riverbend” an apartment complex on the Chattahoochee River, where the parties were legendary. He always wanted to do something special in Atlanta but passed on opportunities that weren’t going to be a legacy.
Paul, as a kid, loved the story of “Eloise at the Plaza” and fantasized about living on top of a hotel. In 2006, he got his opportunity to build his dream: the five-star St Regis Hotel and Residences. As the lead developer, Paul spent hours on each and every detail making sure that it would be an Atlanta landmark for years to come. He worked tirelessly to make sure the St. Regis was truly special and a place where he would want to live. From there, he formed Freeman Partners with his longtime associate and his son Adam. Reputation drove all aspects of the business and he was very proud of all its achievements.
As much as Paul loved creating, he loved his family and friends more. Paul was incredibly warm and inclusive. His powerful and positive presence is known among all of his friends, of which there were many. Paul was definitely a more-the-merrier person. He lived life to the fullest and didn’t get cheated, traveling around the world creating life experiences. He believed strongly in tzedakah, giving to the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, Temple Sinai and numerous other Jewish and non-religious charities.
Paul would tell you that his greatest legacy was his family. He loved them more than anything. Although in pain, Paul was fortunate to spend one last special weekend in the family condo in Florida with the people he loved most.
He leaves behind his wife Viki; their three children Liann, Adam (Jen) and Staci (Jack); two sisters Laurie Gidlow of Dallas, Texas, and Melanie Fine of Memphis, Tenn., six loving grandchildren Lila, Brady, Chase, Hadley, Bryce and Dylan; and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Temple Sinai, Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta or AIPAC, 1200 Ashford Parkway, Suite 565, Dunwoody Ga. 30338.