Claude H. Friesen was born on December 28, 1928 in Hillsboro, Kansas, a Mennonite community settled by German immigrants in the late 1880’s. He died on June 4, 2011. He was influenced in his growing years by Mennonite, Baptist, Congregational, and Methodist churches.
His family moved to California in 1939, eventually settling in Bakersfield. As a youth he became active in the Methodist Youth Fellowship and the youth choir.
He attended UC Berkeley, majoring in Architecture and graduating with honors in 1951. During his senior year he responded to his call to preach and attended Drew Theological Seminary, graduating in 1954, and was ordained as an Elder in the Newark Conference a year later.
In 1953 he married Alice L. Clayton, a graduate of Drew University. They have two children, a son DJ, a daughter Carol, married to Dr. Gregory Perrier, and two grandsons, Trevor and Cameron.
Ecumenical concerns were always an important emphasis in his ministry. In 1970 he received a grant to attend Union Theological Seminary in New York City where he received his Masters of Sacred Theology. He spent 39 years in the Methodist ministry, with 13 of those years in Sonoma from 1979 to 1992.
An amateur violinist, he played in orchestras at Cabrillo College, Chico State, and the Solano Community Symphony. He often hoped that theological give and take might be as universal and unifying a language as music!
A memorial service will be held at the Sonoma United Methodist Church, 109 Patten Street, on Saturday June 11, 2011, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Sonoma United Methodist Church.