September 15, 2008 by

Dave Freeman

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Categories: Writers/Editors

David Stewart Freeman, an ad executive who co-authored a bestselling book encouraging readers to live a life full of adventure, died on Aug. 17 after falling and hitting his head on the ledge of a glass door in his California home. He was 47.
Born and raised in Whittier, Calif., Freeman earned a bachelor’s degree in urban planning from the University of Southern California in 1983. He spent the next two decades working in advertising, first at Cochrane Chase Livingston in Newport Beach, Calif., then at Grey Advertising and Kirshenbaum and Bond in New York City.
After watching the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from his apartment, Freeman decided to move back to Los Angeles to be closer to his family. There he joined the firm TBWA/Chiat/Day and founded The Disruption Consultancy.
In his spare time, Freeman was an avid traveler who preferred to wander alone. From 1996 to 2001, he and his friend Neil Teplica published WhatsGoingOn.com, a travel Website that featured reports “on events, festivals and celebrations all over the planet.” The success of the site led to the 1999 publication of “100 Things to Do Before You Die: Travel Events You Just Can’t Miss.” The irreverent book spawned hundreds of similar mortality-related “list” texts.
Freeman participated in about half of the events mentioned in their book; he ran with the bulls in Pamplona, slept in an ice hotel in Finland and attended the Maha Kumbh Mela, a Hindu pilgrimage that happens only once every 12 years. He and Teplica also encouraged readers to attend the Academy Awards, view the World Cow Chip Throwing Championship in Beaver, Okla., and go “land diving” on the Island of Vanuatu.
The concept of embarking on great adventures before leaving this mortal coil served as the backdrop of the 2007 film “The Bucket List,” starring Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson. The announcement of Freeman’s death also inspired writers from all over the world to pay tribute by posting their own itemized lists of “things to do before kicking the bucket” on blogs and Websites.

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