OBITUARY: Vernon Eugene ‘Vern’ Friesen

Vernon Eugene “Vern” Friesen, 89, of Manhattan, died on September 13, 2020.

He was born April 14, 1931, in Buhler. His family moved to Idaho when he was young where he graduated from American Falls High School in 1949, and returned to Kansas to attend Bethel College at North Newton, Kansas where he received a BA in Mathematics. He enjoyed telling people that during school he played End and Guard on the football team – he sat at the end of the bench and guarded the water cooler.

He performed alternative service, working at a mental health facility during the Korean War, and went on to earn a Masters In Teaching of Mathematics at the University of Illinois, and later a PhD in Education in 1975 from KSU. He got his first teaching job at Palatine Township High School in Illinois, then served on faculty at McPherson College and KSU, and finally spent many years teaching math at Fort Riley Middle School until his retirement. Through his life he also lived, worked, and learned in Greeley, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona.

Vernon married Wanda Bollinger, and to this union were born three children: Amy (Ward), Janell (Epp), and Jeff. They later divorced. He then married Ann Long, and became stepfather to Susie (Troutt) and Chuck. Vern and Ann adopted two children, April (Garner-Lake) and Haley.

Vernon was active in the Manhattan Mennonite Church until his health restricted his activities. During his marriage to Ann, they were foster parents to many dozens of children in need of a short term or longer term safe, loving home. It is believed in many cases this was the first safe, loving home some of those children had known. He had been active in Kiwanis, and helped build homes for others via Habitat for Humanity. He was known for a variety of corny jokes which were uniquely Vern – or “Vipz” as he was known in college. Even when hospitalized near the end, when asked how he was doing, he quickly responded “I’m Friesen!” to which the nurse offered a warm blanket, only to be met with a laugh and explanation “no, that’s my name!” He loved reading the newspaper and watching football.

Vern is survived by Ann and all of their children, his siblings Mildred Schmidt, Larry, Jim and Donald Friesen, four sons-in-law, eighteen grandchildren, and ten great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents Henry and Louise Friesen and brothers Leo Friesen and Melvin Friesen

Memorial service will be Oct. 3 in Manhattan Kan. See funeral home website for time, yet to be determined. Private burial service for the family will be at Cedar Creek Cemetery near Manhattan.

Memorial contributions in memory of Vernon are suggested to Habitat for Humanity. Contributions may be left in care of the Yorgensen-Meloan-Londeen Funeral Home, 1616 Poyntz Avenue, Manhattan, KS 66502.


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