William C. Friedgen, Sr. was born April 8th, 1930 to his beloved parents Clemens & Marion Friedgen of Philadelphia. He was premature and Clem worried that Marion would be upset with how he looked instead she exclaimed, “How Beautiful” and that defined how he was loved for life. They were active in 5th Reformed Church where his father was the choir director and Uncle Fred was minister. They relocated to Broomall, PA where he spent his young adult years. He later served in the US Army during the Korean War where he was stationed in Germany. Bill met Elsie on a blind date in 1955. After dating, he proposed on Friday the 13th…. he was so nervous he did not even realize and later said it was his lucky day. Through the years, they have celebrated their Friday the 13ths together. They married at Tabor Lutheran Church in Philadelphia in 1957 and had 3 children - - Lori Lynn in 1958, William Jr in 1961 and Amy Beth in 1965. They spent their earlier married years in Northeast Philadelphia and relocated to Lafayette Hill, PA in 1963 where he remained for his life. He loved his family and 6 grandchildren (Tom, Dylan, Kelsey, Cami, Eva & Nick).
Upon moving to Lafayette Hill, Bill & Elsie joined Messiah United Methodist Church because of the warmth of the congregation and the active Sunday school. Bill sang in Messiah’s choir and served on various committees during his 57-year membership. He delivered sermons and prayers when lay leadership afforded him that opportunity. Bill had great passion and concern about world peace and was always willing to have a discussion about how politics could lead in that direction. He was always interested in social justice and racial equality. For years, Bill changed the sign on the church’s front lawn, which hopefully reached out to our community. Another of his great joys was singing in the Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival at St. Peter’s Church for more than 20 years. He continued to attend performances after he was no longer able to perform. Through local churches Bill took pleasure in donating blood to the American Red Cross. He did this to serve as a good example to all of his children.
Bill loved his immediate and extended family. To him, family went beyond blood relatives and included friends who became family. He took great joy in holiday celebrations, some with the Leininger and Friedgen clans, some with friends. Other special times for him included a monthly get together with a group of friends they called FLIC “Friends Limited Investment Club”. In the early years they focused on investments – later that group became more about eating. Bill was happy to do that! He used to join cookie baking at Lori & Scott's just to be the “sampler”. His love wasn’t just inwardly focused - - he shared it with others. Through the literary council, Bill was assigned a young man eager to improve his reading and writing. Bill felt a great sense of accomplishment through his student’s success and was proud when he and his partner founded their own business. They became more than family for Bill. He took pride in watching his grandchildren grow and perform. For years, at weekly dinners at Bill and Julia’s home he enjoyed watching Eva dance for him. He loved seeing Nick perform in shows and concerts. Cami’s private guitar concerts and singalongs made him happy.
Bill was an avid traveler taking photos of all he saw. He wanted to share the beauty of his beloved United States with his children. Initially, Elsie was reluctant to camp because she didn’t want snakes crawling on her. However, the purchase of a camper swayed her. The family took cross country trips to National Parks and locally with family. He was a tough task master. No swimming until the pop up camper was set up and the giant yellow Ford Gran Torino was parked. Everywhere we went he took pictures – so many slides shows to view! Once he used the car as a tripod to take a picture of lightning over a distant city (while the family remained in the car) and when Bill Jr. sneezed it ruined the picture. He kept saying, “stay still” which made the family giggle which made taking the picture impossible. When he tried to make folks watch vacation slides, we tried to enforce a no people no view rule because there were so many photos of food, scenery and architecture which gave him great pleasure and remembrances. Dad traveled vicariously through his children and grandchildren and had great interest in hearing about Tom skateboarding across the US for work and Kelsey’s college coursework and experiences in South Africa. He was pleased they too were explorers.
Bill had a stroke on St. Patrick’s Day 2020. He received wonderful care at Jefferson Hospital and was admitted to a sub-acute rehab facility. Unfortunately, he contracted pneumonia and sepsis and was back in the hospital. We were unable to see him during all of this time due to Covid 19. During Bill’s second rehab he had a first-floor window room allowing us to see and encourage him during therapy. Cami went almost every day and the rest of the family on most days. Matt decorated his window with family names (which the window washers may not have been so pleased with). During this period Elsie moved into Amy & Matt’s house due to the COIVD virus being present at Masonic Village and being quarantined in her apartment alone. When it became apparent Bill was not progressing, the family discussed and unanimously agreed to move Bill into the Sherlock home for Hospice care.
On Sunday, May 17th he came home and we had a socially distanced celebration of Bill’s 90th birthday with children and grandchildren in attendance. What a great and special day! We tried to make his last days comfortable and filled with any food or company he could enjoy. The house was filled with music from the kids piano, guitar and song. For someone who loves music as much as Bill does, this was a heavenly place to be. Elsie would sit and hold his hand and retold Bill the stories of his life. Matt moved one of his bird feeders in front of Bill’s window so could watch the activity of these lovely creatures of God from his bed.
On May 24th we relived Dad’s days at Lafayette College (class of '52) through the internet. He and Dylan, a Lehigh grad have a friendly rivalry over which is a better school/football team which we discussed. Looking at pictures of the campus, talking about fellow classmates engaged Bill and this was one of his last days of clear communication.
On May 29th Bill’s family gathered to share stories and song for Bill and although he could not respond we know he heard. It will be a treasured memory for all.
On June 1st, he was able to celebrate his 63rd wedding anniversary with his wife Elsie at his side.
Bill passed on June 3rd, 2020. He is survived by his wife Elsie, children Lori & Scott Friedgen-Veitch, Bill & Julia Friedgen and Amy & Matt Sherlock and his beloved 6 grandchildren Thomas, Dylan, Kelsey, Cami, Eva and Nick. He will be interred at his beloved church Messiah United Methodist in the church’s Memorial Garden in a private service.