Allan Friesen passed away suddenly and peacefully in his home in Winnipeg on March 11, 2021. He leaves his loving wife, Laura; son Elroy (Keira and Nick Wychnenka, Alistair and Nicole, Yuri, Isabel); daughter Lynelle and Jeff Thiessen (T.J. and Jess, Brynae and Levi Wiebe, Hailey, Delainey, Madelyn); son Donavan and Kendra (Makayla, Ryker, Talia, Zeya); daughter Terrilee and Darryl Friesen (Tyrsa, Mila, Caedmon, Declan); daughter Suman Sharma (Shreya); and many adopted “spiritual” children. He also leaves behind many siblings, in-laws, nieces and nephews and extended family.
He was predeceased by his parents, David and Elizabeth; parents-in-law, Jacob and Elisabeth Kroeker; daughter-in-law, Heidi Harms Friesen; sister, Doris Friesen; sister, Susie Matula; brother-in-law, David Friesen; sister-in-law Adina Friesen; sister-in-law Norma Matula; and brother-in-law, Dennis Kroeker.
Dad was born on September 12, 1944 in Steinbach, Manitoba, as the 3rd of 14 children. At age 14, Dad’s family relocated to Washow Bay (Riverton), Manitoba. Dad was an active and mischievous boy, who often instigated great adventures (wholesome trouble). He was known around the area as an “expert veterinarian,” ball-player and athlete, and a capable farmhand (milking “12 cows” before and after school, slaughtering “hundreds of chickens in a day” with his brother Abe, or hours on a tractor working the fields).
When Dad graduated from Grade 8, he vowed he would “never see the inside of a school again,” and stayed home to work on the family farm and eventually join his dad in construction; by age 19, he was running his own construction crew. These construction and leadership skills proved to be useful throughout his life.
In 1966, he married his sweetheart, Laura Kroeker, and they moved to Steinbach where he found himself inside a school once again, as he enrolled at Steinbach Bible Institute for two years of biblical studies. He then surprised many by finishing his grade 12 in one year and going on to university to earn his Bachelor of Education. He even went on in his later teaching career to earn his Master of Education.
Dad spent the greater part of his teaching years at Inkster and Harrow schools in the Winnipeg School Division, where he always had two classrooms - one for students and one for animals. His passion for students led him to use care of animals to connect with students, especially those with the most difficult behavioural issues. His creative teaching strategies were recognized with the prestigious national Hilroy Fellowship for Innovative Teaching. Beyond wanting academic success for his students, he cared about their “emotional, physical, spiritual, mental and social” well-being. Because of this, dad found family farm homes for many inner city children who needed a safe place for summer holidays.
His love for people and his desire for them to know Jesus was also the motivation for his 50-plus years of vocation as a pastor and church planter. This volunteer work happened while he was still a full-time teacher, giving up most of his Saturday days and nights to write his sermons. “Pastor Al’s” philosophy in planting churches was what he called “foyer-ministry” – being purposeful in meeting all new-comers personally and connecting with as many people at church as possible. Many people remember his particularly firm handshake, with an easy smile and of course, a few stories. Mom was the perfect match for Dad’s friendship-style ministry. She helped with names and details of all the people he met, and willingly provided food for the masses on a moment’s notice. Our parents opened their home to countless exchange students, people in need of a nurturing home, and those simply in need of spiritual “parents.”
His genuine care of people naturally led to the forming of ENRICH Ministries, a family-centered non-profit that supported his counselling, parenting seminars, guest speaking, camp ministry and publications. Who has not heard his teachings on how to build “firm, fair, friendly fences, giving freedom to the one who gives them and gets them!” Dad was invited to minister all over Canada and the world, including South America, India, Ukraine, Mexico and the USA. His most recent passion was for the Plautdietsch-speaking communities both local and abroad.
We are grateful to Dad for his example of selfless living. He enthusiastically brought us alongside him in so many of his teaching and ministry endeavors. We learned how to care for animals, mark student assignments, meet new people, care for those who were hurting, build relationships with neighbours, and lead groups of people. Dad supported us in our many musical and athletic interests, attending myriad games and concerts. His many grandchildren have also had his support in all of their activities – he loved attending events, games and concerts. He was a proud dad and grandfather!
Dad, we love you and miss you. Until we meet again…
Thank-you to our family and community for your prayers, care, and support. We feel loved.
A viewing by invitation is planned for Sunday March 21, 2021. A family funeral service will be held at 10:30 am on Monday, March 22, 2021 at Anchor Point Church 1400 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg, Mb. We invite you to join in celebrating Al’s life via livestream . The slide show video will begin at 10:00 am.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Anchor Point Church, 1400 Pembina Hwy, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2C1.