"It's a horrible, horrible loss for everyone in our community," she said. "He was a great man."
Colleague William Herbrechtsmeier described his friend as a man of keen intellect who had a robust laugh and wide-ranging interests, including sports.
"It's just horrid that someone of his quality would be snuffed out in this way," he said.
Freed grew up in Southern California and graduated from Loyola Marymount University. He completed his graduate studies in linguistics while in Italy, where he also learned how to speak Italian.
Freed also worked on a book related to the bombing of Hiroshima, helping a survivor translate haikus about the experience and providing commentary. When the book was published a few years ago, Humboldt State held a conference on genocide and violence.
Humboldt County is known for dairy farming, commercial fishing, a declining logging industry and marijuana and methamphetamine production.
Abdollah reported from Los Angeles. Contributing to this report were AP news researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York, and reporters Jason Dearen in San Francisco and Don Thompson in Sacramento.