Friesen, David A. (1913-1990)

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David and Katharina Friesen

David A. Friesen: businessman and church leader; born 20 December 1913 in Alexanderkrone, Siberia in the Barnaul Mennonite settlement to Abraham and Sara (Lepp) Friesen. In 1926 when David was 12 he was able to leave Russia with his parents and two older brothers and come to Canada where they homesteaded near Glenbush, Saskatchewan. Three of his siblings had died before they left Russia.

David went to school at the German-English Academy in Rosthern but was not able to complete high school due the depression of 1929. In the mid-1930s he attended the Winkler Bible School in Winkler, Manitoba for four years. Here he met his future wife Katharina Voth whom he married in 1937. They had eight children (a ninth died shortly after birth).

David developed tuberculosis in the early 1940s and needed to stay in hospitals and sanitoriums for nearly two years. After he recovered he moved his family to Yarrow, British Columbia (BC) in the mid 1940s. While in Yarrow he became involved in the Mennonite Brethren Conference and church work, including the development of a songbook for the churches. He did much of the translation from numbers (Ziffern) to notes himself and transcribed the notes by hand onto stencils that were then used to print the books. His children remember the countless hours they spent collating the songbooks with him.

During the 1950s David spent many years as the secretary of the British Columbia Mennonite Brethren Conference. He was ordained to the ministry in the Broadway Mennonite Brethren Church in Chilliwack, BC in the early 1950s and preached frequently in many churches during the rest of his life. In the late 1950s he became an associate pastor of the Clearbrook Mennonite Brethren Church. In 1965 he was the pastor of the Yarrow Mennonite Brethren Church, a position he held until he became ill several years later. During all these years his wife Katharina stood beside him and encouraged him. She listened to countless hours of practice sermons and critiqued the contents. After her death in 1985 he was very lonely and the following year he married Susie Funk who continued to encourage and support him.

During most of his life as a minister he was unpaid and worked at many jobs including management of several lumberyards. From 1962 until 1965 he became the administrator for the Bethesda Home in Vineland, Ontario. In 1975 he became the administrator of the Tabor Home in Clearbrook, BC, retiring in 1979.

Friesen had many innovative ideas about Christian Service and together with others developed several homes for the physically and mentally disabled in order to have a non-institutionalized, place where they could live in a home-like environment. This ultimately was given over to Mennonite Central Committee BC and became the MCC Supportive Care Services (now Communitas Supportive Care Society). He was particularly concerned that the disabled would continue to receive compassionate care after their own parents were no longer able to provide care for them.

He preached on the German radio broadcast over the Chilliwack radio station (CHWK) for 25 years. He was very persistent, not only in evangelism, but also in emphasizing consistent Christian living. He, together with others, developed an English Christian radio broadcast.

Friesen was one of the founders of the Clearbrook Credit Union, not for personal gain, but for the development of a system of mutual support. After retirement he continued to be active with the elderly writing hundreds of wills for them and giving financial advice particularly with regard to estate matters. He was a frequent visitor to many retirement and care homes bringing spiritual encouragement. His life was consumed with service, first to God, but also to his community. He died 3 September 1990 in Clearbrook, BC. He had prepared four weeks of radio broadcast prior to his death and these were broadcast as usual after his death. Fifteen years after his death some of the tapes of his radio broadcasts were still being played in Russia.


GRANDMA (The Genealogical Registry and Database of Mennonite Ancestry) Database, 5.05 ed. Fresno, CA: California Mennonite Historical Society, 2008: #414197.

Additional Information

David was the son of Abraham Friesen (21 March 1878, Alexanderfeld, Sagradovka, South Russia – 27 August 1958, Morden, Manitoba, Canada) and Sara (Lepp) Friesen (11 February 1880, Neu Schoensee, Sagradovka, South Russia – 25 April 1958, Alexander, Manitoba, Canada).

David married Katharina Voth on 10 October 1937 in Manitou, Manitoba, Canada. Katharina (3 July 1914, Russkoje, Terek, South Russia – 14 July 1985, Clearbrook, British Columbia, Canada) was the daughter of Hermann H. Voth (27 March 1882, Alexanderfeld, Kuban, South Russia – 16 December 1954, Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada) and Maria (Retzlaff) Voth (25 July 1886, Konteniusfeld, Molotschna, South Russia – 7 January 1933, Morden, Manitoba, Canada).

David and Katharina had eight children: Rose, David, Walter, Arthur, Irene, Rudy, Kathy, and Lillian.

David’s second wife was Susanna "Susie" Funk (b. 30 March 1935), daughter of Franz Johann Funk (1901-1987) and Susanna (Funk) Funk (1901-1947).

Author(s) Art Friesen
Date Published December 2008

Cite This Article

MLA style

Friesen, Art. "Friesen, David A. (1913-1990)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. December 2008. Web. 7 Dec 2021.,_David_A._(1913-1990)&oldid=81052.

APA style

Friesen, Art. (December 2008). Friesen, David A. (1913-1990). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 7 December 2021, from,_David_A._(1913-1990)&oldid=81052.

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