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Distinguished Through the Decades: 2007, Lydia Hammock Freeman

Progress 2022: Distinguished Through the Decades

Red Bay’s Lydia (Hammock) Freeman said she grew up doing pageants and felt competing in Junior Miss would broaden her horizons. “I really wanted to compete for the scholarship aspect of it and to meet new people,” she said. “I thought I had a really good chance of doing well, and of course my mom and dad pushed me.”

The daughter of Beth and Richard Hammock, Freeman was a Tiger cheerleader and track team member. She also played basketball and tennis in seventh and eighth grade. She was voted football queen her senior year as well as Miss RBHS, and she made Top 10 of her class. Her high school memories also include working at Tiffin Supply during the summers from age 16.

For Junior Miss, Freeman said she remembers it being a hefty responsibility, in terms of balancing her commitments and making time for all the practices and preparation needed.

“Overall it was totally worth it. I think I gained a lot,” Freeman said. “I would do it all over again.”

Through her experience, she said she grew as a person and made so many new friends. She was shocked, excited and thankful to be selected as Franklin County’s Junior Miss 2007. “I just remember it being all worth the time, effort and dedication I put into it.”

After starting her higher education at Mississippi State University, Freeman continued to the University of Mississippi School of Nursing. “I thought I wanted to take care of babies. I’ve always loved caring for the kids growing up in church,” said Freeman, who attended first Belgreen church of Christ and then Eastside church of Christ.

After working a rotation on the pediatric floor, however, she changed her mind, choosing to forego pediatric nursing. Instead, she began her career on the med-surge floor at North Mississippi Medical Center.

By then she was married to husband A.J. Freeman, who had a coaching and teaching job in Tupelo, where the couple lived.

Med-surge, she said, was “an eye-opening experience.” She worked night shift, seven days on, seven days off, for two years. “I learned a lot being on med-surge, and I would never take that for granted,” said Freeman.

The patient load, however, was taxing, and eventually she needed a change. She now works in the Center for Digestive Health at North Mississippi Medical Center. “I work in the pre-op area and the recovery room and then also in the back during procedures, like colonoscopies and scope tests,” she explained. “I like that I’m not doing the same thing every day.” In her off hours she also works PRN for Infinity Infusion Nursing, providing care in a patient’s home.

Husband A.J. has also shifted careers since early in their marriage, now owning an insulation business.

Son Bentley is 6, and son Breck is 3, and the family now lives in Mooreville, Miss., a small town between Fulton and Tupelo, where they love the school district and just built their forever home.

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