has poured himself into his
highly successful firm, Hightech Signs & Graphix
Setbacks can't stop Dick Freeborg
from enjoying life, family and success
Life couldn't have been much better for Richard "Dick" Freeborg.
was an experienced water skiier, he
'd never been on a aquatic WaveRunner before, so he jumped at the chance.Flying over the lake at near automobile speeds was exhilarating, but he
lost sight of his
son-in-law Brian around a boat , and the two collided.
"I T-boned him doing about 40 mph."
Sustaining severe injuries, Freeborg
, who was wearing a life vest, lay motionless.
"I was just floating in the water." He
was carefully plucked from the lake and transported to Loma Linda University Hospital
.Doctors decided to move him to Good Samaritan Hospital in Los Angeles, where a noted doctor could repair his shattered hip and related injuries."
"Well, Dick," Freeborg
remembers the doctor saying, "rocket science is over.The rest is up to you."
, the devastating accident would be the first of several life challenges since arriving to the Victor Valley in the mid-1990s that would provide pivotal choices: recoil and fail, or move forward and succeed.Each time, there would be only one response from the resilient Freeborg.
PHOTOGRAPHIC CAREER Raised in Van Nuys, Freeborg served in the United State Air Force's 1352 Photographic Squadron in Korea, becoming a civilian again in 1959.He went to work for Bell & Howell and earned his bachelor's degree at Woodbury College.
worked for the company's military marketing arm, the TRAID Corp.
, modifying cameras to run at accelerated speeds of 200 frames per second. Freeborg's expertise in the technical photography field made him a hot commodity, so in the late 1960s he was hired by Photo-Sonics to launch the Instrumentation Marketing Corp.
Over the next few decades his
company would introduce numerous products, some of which are still used in aerospace and other industries.In 1991, he became president of NAC Visual Systems.
But along the way, his
understanding of high-speed cameras also opened a door: He
was hired to film and compute certified aviation speed record attempts for the National Aeronautics Association
"I guess I've done 15 or 20 air world records," said Freeborg
, whose most notable event was as observer for a high altitude flight of the SR-71 Blackbird.
In the early 1990s, Freeborg
began consulting, often commuting to New Jersey.
"That really got old.It was too much traveling."
By the mid-1990s, he
started thinking of moving to the Victor Valley to retire.The couple built a home in Apple Valley in 1996, but Freeborg
began helping out at his
adult children's business, Hightech Signs & Graphx
, which then was a franchise.One of his two sons "decided the grass was greener" and left the company.
daughter Alison and son Scott stayed while Freeborg's
business acumen helped the company grow.By 1998, he
was overseeing the company and refining the company's business plan. Freeborg
remembers when the company purchased it's first large format digital printer, a Hewlett-Packard
had purchased a plot of land for the expansion for $50,000 in 1996.But by the time the company was ready to build 10 years later the property had appreciated tenfold.
"The land appreciated so much I didn't have to put up so much capital."
Despite the company's continued success -- by the end of 2006, the company topped $1 million sales -- a bank didn't want to lend the necessary funds for the property's development.So Bud Wiesbord, a friend of 40 years, lent Freeborg
a good chunk of the needed funds.
On a Saturday in September of 2005, Freeborg
was all alone working on the completion of the new building.Working on a roll-up door in the back, Freeborg
placed one foot on the building and another on a truck high above the ground.Then it happened.
"I just launched myself on the back of the door and down I went." Freeborg
landed on the hot blacktop at full force.With blood running down his
face from broken eyeglasses he
was severely injured.Without the use of his
teeth to take off his
work gloves and slowly pressed 911.
"Whatever you do, I cannot drop the phone," he
But help would be delayed.
"This is 911," he
remembers hearing."Due to extremely heavy calls we cannot take your call right now."
"It happened four times," he
Finally, a dispatcher took his
call and "within five seconds I heard sirens."
As a result of the fall, Freeborg
right shoulder, including the ball joint, and broke his
left elbow in seven pieces.
Doctors first repaired his
arm, then his
shoulder a day later.
"I've got 11 pieces of metal in my shoulder.There were 17 pieces in my arm."
Once again Freeborg
was placed in a convalescent home.He
needed to be fed, bathed and assisted when he
went to the bathroom.
As soon as Freeborg
was able, he
began attending his
many business-related activities.