Charles LeRoy Frieden, 71, of Elgin, Iowa, passed away May 8, 2019, at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa.
Chuck was born February 7, 1948, in West Union, Iowa, to Floyd and Coranel (Rothlisberger) Frieden. He was the third of their five children, and the first to be born in a hospital.
Chuck loved growing up with David, Dianne, Jessie and JoNell in the stone house along State Highway 56. A crucial part of growing up was being an active member of the Illyria Community Church.
Chuck began working on their Fayette County farm from a young age. He described Floyd as his best friend and greatest teacher in showing him how to be a thoughtful steward of their land.
Chuck was a stand-out athlete for Valley High School and was voted homecoming king as a senior. He graduated in 1966 and then attended Upper Iowa University, graduating in 1970. He met Deb Rogers at Upper Iowa and proposed to her outside Illyria on Christmas Eve 1970. They married April 11, 1971, in Toledo, Iowa.
Chuck taught sixth grade in Clear Lake, Iowa, in 1970/71. From 1971 until his retirement in 2003, he taught at Valley of Elgin, including sixth grade; junior high math and social studies; and he developed one of the state of Iowa’s first pilot high school At-Risk/Learning Center programs.
Mr. Frieden was known for his extra-loud sneezes, which echoed through the school hallways. He also was known for corny jokes, and giving students time to talk every day. He was proud of so many his students long after graduation.
As he taught school, Chuck continuing farming and broadened his stewardship ethic to the abundant trees on the family farm. In 2010, the Fayette Soil and Water Conservation District named him the Woodland Owner of the Year, and in 2009, he was a Watershed Achievement Award winner from the conservation district.
Throughout his life, Chuck enjoyed being the center of attention — “Don’t you know it’s all about me?” he would say — but was just as happy being the butt of his family’s jokes and playful ribbing.
He had many signature one-liners: “I’m in pretty good shape for the shape I’m in!” When being asked how he was faring in his cancer battle. After noting his age, he’d remark, “I know, hard to believe!” When playing cards, he would say “Shuffle up and deal” or “What would a smart man do?” when deciding how to play his hand.
Chuck loved sharing stories about his community, his family or just life lessons. He was a member of a neighborhood coffee club, walking to the local hog-buying station many days a week to meet with life-long friends. He loved arguing politics and commenting about what was going on close to home or in the world. No one he met remained a stranger for very long.
Like his mother, he loved to play cards and was competitive, but it was the togetherness with family and friends that mattered most.
His grandchildren will always adore him for being the Best Grandpa in the World. He spoiled them in countless ways, including rides in the Gator, treats and slushies; basically anything they wanted. So many of his favorite pastimes were outdoors, or with family and friends: chopping firewood; eating out; going to coffee; walking his fields and trees; spending time in Clear Lake, especially on July 4; attending the grandkids’ events; visiting with friends and strangers; and of course, farming.
Chuck handled his two-year cancer journey with grace, courage and — most of all — great faith. As that final journey progressed, many former students and community members shared their thanks for his friendship, teaching and mentorship.
“No one really dies until the ripples they cause in the world fade away. Frieden will enjoy everlasting life through his loving family and the countless people who had the honor to know him. You can rest easy, Frieden, knowing you will never be forgotten. Your ripples will continue to flow.”
“Your dad has been one of the kindest and respectful farmers we have worked for over the years. The long discussions of life lessons we have had in the planter and combine will be missed dearly this spring.”
“Mr. Frieden (too respected to not be Mr. Frieden) is a true example a great man and is such a beacon of light for a countless number of lost kids. If anyone deserves the opportunity to get called home and enjoy eternal peace and joy, it’s you Mr. Frieden. I’m honored to say you have been an influence on me.
“He never gave up on me and better yet wouldn’t let me give up on myself. When I walk across the stage in May and receive my college diploma, I will have him to partially thank from all those years ago.”
His first granddaughter, Kenli, may have said it best how Chuck approached his cancer journey, and what it meant for him to stay focused on his family despite the diagnosis: “The guy who, up until the very end, showed up with all of the strength in the world for his kids and grandkids when no one would have faulted him for being tired and wanting to rest. “Being loved by you was one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Chuck is survived by his wife of 48 years, Deb; siblings: David (Karen) Frieden, Swisher, Iowa; JoNell (Mike) Young, Waverly, Iowa; and Jessielee Frieden, Mason City, Iowa.
He also is survived by his brother-in-law, Ed Havens, Newton, Iowa; sister-in-law Sara Sheets, Independence, Iowa; brother-in-law Doug (Anne) Rogers, Estes Park, CO; and sister-in-law Vicki (Philip) Rogers-Goodwin, Frant, England.
His children and grandchildren carry forward Chuck’s spirit, many life lessons and love of life: Jen (Pat Deninger) Frieden, St. Paul, Minn.; Blaine (Becky) Frieden, Mason City, Iowa; and Kim (Ben) Steines, Tiffin, Iowa. His grandchildren: Kenli (Bryan) Parker, Des Moines, Iowa; Jacob and Jack Frieden, Mason City; Cora, Isla and Aria Steines, Tiffin; and great-granddaughter Lucy Parker, Des Moines. He also has many nieces, nephews and cousins.
Chuck was preceded in death — and has now rejoined — his parents Floyd and Coranel; sister Dianne Havens; and parents-in-law Gress and Katherine Rogers.
Visitation will be Sunday, May 12, 2019 from 4-7 pm at Illyria Community Church, Elgin, Iowa and one hour before services at the church on Monday.
Funeral Services will be at 11:00 am on Monday, May 13, 2019 at Illyria Community Church, Elgin, Iowa with Pastor Pam Reinig as the Officiant.
Private Inurnment will be at a later date.
In Lieu of flowers, memorials may be made in Chuck’s honor to the Illyria Church Renovation Project.
Leonard-Grau Funeral Home and Cremation Service, Elgin, Iowa is helping the family with the arrangements.