When Cuban exiles came in the ‘60s, a Miami lawyer spoke their language. He died at 84

Prominent Miami international law attorney Owen S. Freed died Monday during a trip to Bogotá. He was 84.

Freed was one of South Florida’s only Spanish-speaking attorneys when Cuban exiles began arriving in Miami in the early 1960s. He represented many of the original exiles in their first attempts to get established in the United States.

“I used to tease him that his Spanish was better than his English,” said his widow, Sheila Freed. “My husband’s influence reached the community and beyond. This is an immeasurable loss. He had a knack for making people part of his life and part of his family. He was low-key, supportive, brilliant, so kind, so giving and so very involved.”

Freed was born in New Jersey and moved to Miami when he was 11. He went on to graduate from Miami Senior High School before graduating from the University of Miami, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees. He was then awarded an International Rotary Ambassador Scholarship to study a year in Uruguay and Honduras, where he perfected his Spanish and Portuguese.

In 2012, Freed started his international law practice in Coral Gables after leaving law firm Stearns Weaver. Before that, he was a founding member of a predecessor to that firm, Arky, Freed, Stearns, Watson, Greer, Weaver & Harris.

Freed has served as honorary consul to Honduras since 1968. He was the chairman of the board for the Lighthouse for the Blind and served on the board of the Miami-Dade/Broward chapter of the American Jewish Committee.

In addition to his wife of 44 years, Freed is survived by daughter Lesli Helman Schwartz; sons Ryan Helman and Paul Freed; five grandchildren and several nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday at Temple Judea, 5500 Granada Blvd. in Coral Gables. A burial will follow at Mount Nebo/Kendall Memorial Gardens, 5900 SW 77th Ave., in the Kendall area.