Richard Freund passed away in Charlottesville, Virginia, on July 14 due to complications involving a bone-marrow transplant he received 18 years ago. He was 67. Freund was a frequent visitor to Vilnius and a friend of the Lithuanian Jewish Community. Besides annual summer digs at the Great Synagogue site in Vilnius, revealing many new facts and the existence of surviving elements and a few surprises at that site, he also headed the non-invasive investigation of the escape tunnel dug by the brenner kommando at Ponar, Jews who were forced to exhume corpses, burn the flesh and crush the bones, who themselves were slated for death upon completion of their task aimed at hiding Holocaust crimes. The rediscovery of the tunnel was featured in an hour-long documentary by NOVA on the American public television network PBS. Freund also led the effort to map the lost Jewish shtetl of Rumshishok (Rumšiškės) just outside Kaunas flooded in the post-war period to create a hydroelectric generation station, and worked on a number of other Jewish sites in Lithuania. He also used non-invasive techniques to investigate the Warsaw ghetto in 2021.

Freund always found the time in the middle of his work to explain his finds to interested on-lookers, and presented his findings to the Lithuanian Jewish Community in a series of presentations in Vilnius.

We mourn his loss and extend our deepest condolences to his widow Eliane, his three children Eli, Ethan, and Yoni and his many other family members and friends at the University of Hartford and around the world.