Friesen, David


Memorial service will be held at 2:30PM on Sunday January 14, 2018 at Winkler Mennonite Church. Public viewing will be from 1PM-6PM on Saturday at Wiebe Fuenral Home, Winkler. Interment at 1PM prior to the service at the Blumenort Cemetery. Donations may be made in David's memory to either the MCC or Canadian Foodgrains Bank


 David Friesen

1944 - 2018 

Obituary - Celebration of Life For David Friesen, Winkler, formerly Cuauhtemoc, Mexico

As Presented at David’s funeral, January 14, 2018 By John J. Friesen, Winnipeg, brother-in-law 

This past week we have experienced shock and waves of sorrow. Yet, here we are, celebrating David’s life, even though our hearts are nearly broken. Our conversations have dwelt on his strength of character, his love for people, and his dedication to the cause of Christ.

David Friesen was born November 27, 1944 to Heinrich and Katharina Friesen in the Santa Clara colony, Mexico. One can imagine him as a little boy running down the dusty street in the village of Weidenfeld, playing with his friends, coming in for supper when his mother called, meeting his dad on a corn or bean field, or teased by his older brother, Hein. David began his education in a local private school, completed Secondaria in Cuauhtemoc, and received his university education in Chihuahua, majoring in history. Much of his education was thus in the Spanish language public school system. His love for education meant that his intellectual and spiritual horizons kept expanding throughout his life. He kept expanding his Low German Mennonite world to include the Spanish language Mexican world, and more. In 1963, at the age of 19, David was baptized in the General Conference Mennonite Church in the Cuauhtemoc area. He integrated his Christian faith and university education. His baptism also started him on a life-long path within the church. He became passionate about the Mennonite Church, and its rich potential.  In June, 1967, David married Trudy Peters from Blumenort, Manitoba. Trudy had been teaching in a private Mennonite elementary school near Cuauhtemoc under the General Conference Mennonite Church’s mission program. For most of their married life, Cuauhtemoc was their home. Two sons were born to them, John Howard David, and Karl Helmut Amadeus, who died shortly after birth. Unfortunately John Howard is not able to be here today. To strengthen his knowledge of the Bible, theology, and church history, David studied for three years in the Mennonite Seminary, located in Montevideo, Uruguay at that time. Since instruction was in German, he honed his German language ability here. Later, while spending a year in Manitoba taking care of Trudy’s aging parents, David he attended Canadian Mennonite Bible College in Winnipeg, strengthening his fluency in the English language. In these schools he was introduced to Anabaptist Mennonite theology, which powerfully shaped his faith and theology. He was passionate about Christian peace, believing that it was rooted in the heart of the Christian gospel.    During their years in Cuauhtemoc, David and Trudy were members of the Blumenau Mennonite Church, which was the largest congregation in the Conference of Mennonites in Mexico. Here David’s talents were affirmed and he was ordained lay minister. He was also given responsibility for youth work. This included teaching Sunday school, conducting baptism preparation classes, and planning youth events. His concern was to give young people a solid grounding in the essentials of the Christian faith, and instill in them a love for the church, in die “Gemeinde” as he never tired of saying.  His involvement with young people resulted in him being invited to officiate at many weddings. With his outgoing, charming personality, solid education, gregarious nature, and deep dedication to the church, he was loved and appreciated by many. There were also times when his broader horizons and open acceptance of people created tensions with some people in the church.  For many years David taught English in the Cuauhtemoc Secondaria. He continued to connect with many former students in later life. When David started a travel agency, his customers were both Mexican and Mennonite. Many of his Mexican customers were businessmen from the area. Many of his Mennonite customers were conservative Mennonites were migrating to Bolivia. Many were migrating to maintain their way of life. They came to David for tickets, and for assistance with documentation. After David closed his travel business, he and Trudy accepted an MCC assignment in Nuevu Casas Grandes in northern Mexico. Also from this area, many Mennonites from various colonies were migrating to Bolivia to maintain their conservative way of life. David’s task was to assist the members who had not migrated to reorganize and establish stable colony and church life. David threw himself whole heartedly into this work. It was during these years that David also maintained a ministry to Mennonites who were incarcerated in Juarez, sometimes because of drug-related charges. This ministry gave him a unique insight into the Mennonite community.

In 2002 David and Trudy moved to Winkler Manitoba, where David accepted the position of chaplain or spiritual life director at Salem Home. Although David was reluctant to leave the Mexican Mennonite church he had served faithfully for many years, and the country which had given him so much, he fully embraced his new career. From having spent most of his life relating to young people, at Salem David related to people in the twilight years of their lives. He took courses at the University of Winnipeg to hone new skills. With his friendly, outgoing nature he easily connected with residents, their families, and visitors ministers. Numerous families asked David to officiate at funerals of their loved ones. One person called Friday to say how much she and her family had appreciated David’s ministry to her mother.  Even while in Winkler, David continued to connect with Mexico. When Mennonites in the Cuauhtemoc area organized major anniversary celebrations, they invited David to be guest speaker. During the last number of years, the Mennonite High School in Blumenau invited David to teach religion courses. TourImagination invited David to be leader of a number of tours to Mexico which included Mexican cultural sites, as well as visits to the Mennonite villages and communities.  David had a naturally inquisitive mind, ever learning and asking questions. He attended Mennonite conferences including Mennonite World Conferences. He read new books on Anabaptist and Mennonite history. Matter-a-fact, on his fateful trip to Winnipeg this past Monday, his mission was to pick up a book at the CMU bookstore. The book he picked up was the new Bible commentary on the book of Leviticus, in the Believers Church Commentary series. David had the ability to relate equally and genuinely to young and old, to educated and uneducated, to rick and poor, to people of all races and colours. He loved people. He also had a great sense of humour, and could express it equally well in four languages: Low German, High German, Spanish and English. His humour allowed him to be the life of a party, to break the ice in tense situations, and to connect deeply to people.  

David was predeceased by one infant son, Karl, and his brother Henry’s wife Tina. He leaves to mourn his wife Trudy, one son, John Howard in Mexico, one brother, Henry (Hein) in Mexico and his family. David is also survived by Trudy’s siblings, Frank (Marg), Dorothy (John), Esther, Susan (Ed), two sisters-in-law, Elma Peters, Esther Lashambe, and their families. Trudy and we immediate families miss David terribly. We are confident that as David’s strong faith in God, and love for church and community sustained him, so the same faithful, loving God, and the support of church and community will sustain and comfort Trudy and us as family in these difficult days. Thank you to all who filled Trudy’s ‘frig with food, sat at her table, cleaned her driveway, sent messages and cards, sent flowers, prayed and comforted, and have come to this service to celebrate a life well lived. Good bye David. Aufwiedersehen.              

Wiebe Funeral Home, Winkler

In care of arrangements