On November 7, 1927, John and Anna Friesen welcomed Lawrence Jacob Friesen into the world. Only God know how this astute young gentleman would storm the gates of the business world and further the cause of the Great Commission.
His early years were spent in Steinbach, Manitoba, helping on the family farm, attending school and apprenticing as an electrician.
In 1949, he traveled to B.C. with his dad to help settle the family in a new homestead on Ross Road. His father then returned to Manitoba for his wife, Anna, and children Vern, Johnny and Elizabeth. LJ stayed behind to look after the mixed farm and work as an electrician.
Never one to have idle hands, this entrepreneur established LJ Friesen Electric in 1950. LJ fondly recalled how his grandfather helped launch this business when he generously paid for the first truckload of material. LJ was soon able to construct his own building, which housed office space and a warehouse for his contracting materials. He worked throughout Whistler, the Interior and the Okanagan.
All was not work for LJ. He had been noticing Marian Schartner at church and was smitten with her personality and gorgeous red hair. A five year courtship resulted in their marriage in 1956.
Business grew steadily and became a family affair. It is true that behind every good man stands an exhausted woman and Marian worked tirelessly as his secretary, bookkeeper,
administrative assistant, caterer and finder of misplaced files. Their boys, Barry, Merlin and Richard, could be found sweeping, running the cash register and helping customers. The name “dad” was soon replaced with “LJ”. No one wanted to yell to dad for help, it was much more professional to call upon LJ.
LJ enjoyed stretching his pennies, which in some instances, resulted in generous amounts of teasing. When each of his sons was married, LJ just happened to purchase a Harry Rosen suit, always on sale, but it was never for anything as frivolous as a wedding expense. He just happened to need a suit, the price was right and his boys just happened to be tying the knot.
His frugality, business sense and charitable spirit allowed he and Marian to prusue business and Great Commission dreams. In early 1960 LJ led a coalition of businessmen who formulated Cedar Park. He was active in real estate and also traveled with Marian throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
LJ and Marian were avid supporters of Campus Crusade for Christ, opening their home to basketball players from the Athletes in Action program. More recently, DVD’s of the Jesus Film and a water well project in China are just a sampling of the projects they supported to further the Good News of Jesus Christ.
In 1999, LJ was diagnosed with prostrate cancer. After a two year battle he was cancer free and excited to get back in the saddle. Two years of good health allowed LJ to travel and continue his business and ministry ventures. Last July, the diagnosis of a malignant brain tumor stunned the family. Despite ensuing surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy, LJ actively conducted business meetings at his beloved Starbucks and made his presence known at job sites.
As he slowed down physically, he shared his business wishes, Great Commission desires and even his regrets with the family. We trust that we have listened and learned well.
We will miss him, his cap cocked to one side, well worn briefcase in one hand and cell phone in the other as he answered, “LJ”. Although he’s no longer here, his generous spirit, wisdom, Christian character and the name Friesen electric have left a lasting legacy. A marriage of forty-eight years is also a testment of commitment and utter devotion. LJ often referred to Marian as “the love of my life”.
LJ, you finished well. On behalf of Marian and family; Barry, his wife Charlene and children Chris and Jonathan; Merlin, his wife Janet and children Alex, Marian and Carly; and Richard, his wife Shelley and children Tyler and Lauren, we thank you for building upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. We’ll work the second story.
Funeral Service to be held Wednesday, August 4, 2004 at 2:00 pm from Sevenoaks Alliance Church.