Elmer R. Friesen

May 27, 1918February 20, 2013

Elmer R. Friesen, died peacefully at age 94, surrounded by his wife and family in Portland, Oregon. Elmer was born May 27, 1918, in Dubois, Idaho. He was the youngest of five children. When he we was five, his family moved to Reedley, California.

He received his undergraduate degree at Bethel College in Newton, Kansas and worked on his master's degree in Chemistry at UCLA. He was a research chemist when he married Lois Bixel, with whom he shared 56 years of a loving marriage. Motivated by his values and passion for peace, he decided to enter the ministry. Following WWII he attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California and later graduated from the Mennonite Seminary in Chicago.

Elmer served as pastor at the Beatrice Mennonite Church in Nebraska, Grace Mennonite Church in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, Pretty Prairie Mennonite Church, Kansas, Houston Mennonite Church and Peace Mennonite Church in Portland, Oregon. He served as Western District Conference Minister and Pacific District Conference Minister, and in later years was an interim pastor to congregations in Washington, Idaho and California. He also taught high school science and math. He retired at age 76. Elmer experienced a tragic loss when his wife, Lois, died in 1999. He was invited back to Beatrice, Nebraska, to speak at the church's 75th anniversary. It was there he renewed a friendship with Hilda Schmidt, who had lost her husband of 50 years. Shortly after, Hilda and Elmer were married; they had a loving marriage of 12 years.

Elmer is survived by his beloved wife, Hilda, his children Carolyn Neufeld, Ruth Holsinger, Elaine Friesen-Strang and Mark Friesen. He was preceded in death by his wife Lois, his siblings, and his son David, who died at age 8 from cancer. He has 9 grandchildren and 6 great grand children.

Elmer enjoyed traveling, fishing, hiking, sports, music and learning. He volunteered with many agencies, including Ecumenical Ministries. He was a devoted father and loving husband. His faith guided his life. In the closing words in his autobiography, Elmer wrote about his belief "to bring peace, justice, love and compassion to today's world".

His life will be celebrated on March 2, 2:00 PM, at Portland Mennonite Church. Remembrances are suggested to Mennonite Central Committee (a relief, development and peace agency), 21 S. 12th St. Akron, PA. 17501-0500


  • Celebration of Life Saturday, March 2, 2013

Elmer R. Friesen

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February 27, 2013

My condolences to all the family. Jeanne Zook