Biography of Charles E. Friederich

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I was born in the Methodist parsonage in the small town of Western, Nebraska, on July 13, 1934. My father, Fred Friederich, was a pastor and my mother, Lydia Roth Friederich, was a housewife and registered nurse. Her training came in handy, as the stork beat the local doctor to our house and Mom supervised the delivery. I was named after nobody in particular. My folks just thought “CE” sounded like good initials.

Moving from town to town, as Methodist pastors and families do, we lived in the Nebraska communities of Gering, McCook, York, and finally Seward, where I graduated from high school in 1952. I was skinny, un-co-ordinated and definitely not an athlete, so the coach designated me to assist him in managing the school’s teams. One of my tasks was to call in Seward’s football and basketball scores to newspapers in Omaha and Lincoln. Thus began my interest in what became my career: journalism.

I attended Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, where I started out as an engineering major. However, journalism seduced me. I became editor of the student newspaper and, nights and weekends, worked as a reporter for the Lincoln Journal and writing the 10 o’clock newscast for Lincoln’s television station. After graduating in 1956. I received a full-tuition scholarship to the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. I received my master’s degree in journalism there in 1959.

Wanting to see another part of the country, I accepted a job as a reporter for the Binghamton Press in upstate New York. Two years later, in January, 1961, I moved to Wisconsin and was a member of the staff of The Milwaukee Journal for almost 30 years. My first seven years at The Journal were spent in Milwaukee, where I did most everything from writing obituaries to composing editorials.

While in Milwaukee, in the young singles group at Kenwood United Methodist Church, I met the lady who became the love of my life, Mary Pearl Koertge. We taught Sunday School together, dated, and I proposed to Mary on my birthday in 1963. She accepted and we were married in Kenwood Church on Nov. 9, 1963. Our first two children, Matthew Charles and Elizabeth Ann, were born in Milwaukee.

In 1968, our family moved to Madison, where I was assigned to The Journal’s news bureau. My beat in Madison was the State Capitol, where I covered government and politics, an exciting job I thoroughly enjoyed. Our third child, David Michael, was born during our Madison years.

The Journal allowed retirement at age 55, and so I did, in 1990. Then things got interesting. Years before, when Mary was in high school, she felt a calling to become a pastor. However, women in the pulpit were not common then, and Mary received little support from her parents and pastor; so aspirations to the clergy were long postponed. My retirement freed Mary to pursue this dream. She became a local pastor in the United Methodist Church, and in 1991 she was appointed to serve three small United Methodist Churches in southwest Wisconsin: Argyle, Blanchardville and Lamont. For me, it was coming full circle. As a kid, I lived in Methodist parsonages; now, in retirement, I moved into a parsonage once again – this time as pastor’s spouse.

When Mary retired from the full-time ministry in 1997, we moved to Brodhead. Mary continued as a part-time pastor at Methodist churches in Monroe and at our old home church in Madison, Asbury. In Brodhead, I enjoyed volunteer work for church and community; daily two-mile walks (round trip) to McDonald’s for coffee, and visits to our three children and 12 grandchildren. We also enjoyed regular family gatherings at Susanna Wesley House at Pine Lake Camp in Marquette County, and vacations (often taking a grandchild or two along) at the YMCA of the Rockies near Estes Park, CO; Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and, for 19 years, to Chautauqua, NY. Another retirement passtime was to create and maintain a web site of family photos and history: laffhouse.org, which David took over in 2017.