Dorothy LeClair Friesen died peacefully on February 22, 2021. She was born in Salina, Kansas on October 17, 1922, to Frank and Emma LeClair. She was the youngest of 10 children, and the only one to graduate from high school. She received a scholarship to Marymount College in Salina, where she completed a Bachelor’s degree in Business in 1944. After graduation, she started her teaching career in Lebanon, Kansas, teaching high school business courses. There she met and married Eric Friesen, who had been hired as a math teacher after he had returned from service in World War II. They soon began a family and Dorothy paused her teaching in 1946.
In 1957, the family, which had grown to four children, moved to Clay Center, Kansas. In 1961, Dorothy returned to teaching, this time in elementary grades — initially at two-room country schools and later teaching first grade “in town,” retiring in 1983. She taught over 500 students in Clay County during those years and was recognized as a Master Teacher by the State of Kansas.
After retiring, she and Eric continued their love of traveling until his death in 1993. They shared many adventures traveling throughout the United States, with National Forest campgrounds in Colorado among their favorite destinations. In her retirement years, she played bridge regularly. She renewed her interest in painting, something she had done throughout her life. She started working with watercolor. One of her favorite subjects was painting pictures of many homes in Clay Center. She started another creative hobby as well — quilting. She made numerous beautiful quilts for her children and grandchildren. She was especially proud of one she made for herself that won a ribbon at the county fair. Dorothy volunteered for many worthy causes throughout her life, including as Girl Scout troop leader, and for the American Cancer Society. She was a devoted member of the United Methodist Church in Clay Center, Kansas.
In 1997, she married Gail Bauer, whose family welcomed her lovingly. With Gail, she traveled to Europe, Australia, and Hawaii. A lifelong learner, Dorothy was always in the front of the tour group at museums and churches, wanting to know just why that stained glass window was so special.
Dorothy, whose name means “gift of God,” truly was just that. She had friends too numerous to count, and always made time to visit them and give them something to smile about. You could always expect you would get a warm hug from her.
Dorothy was never afraid to start a new chapter. After Gail died in December 2013, she moved to Louisville, Kentucky, to be near two of her daughters and their families. She lived at the Treyton Oak Towers senior living facility, where she was on the Residents’ Council; she participated in morning exercise class almost every day. She made many new friends there, and was able to be spend time with family, including two of her four children, three grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren— all of whom live in Louisville. She also found a new church home in Louisville attending Highland Presbyterian Church — she rarely missed Sunday services.
She is preceded in death by her first husband Eric J. Friesen (1993), and her second husband Gail Bauer (2013); as well as her parents and her nine siblings. She is survived by her children: Larry Friesen (Martha) of League City, Texas; Linda Mailen (Gary) of Olathe, Kansas; Laura Rothstein (Mark) of Louisville; Leslie Friesen (Steven Spalding) of Louisville; her grandchildren Kristopher Mailen (Stephanie); Jeremy Mailen; Julia Irzyk (Bryan); Lisa Goldberg (Matt); Andrew Spalding, and Claire Spalding; and her great-grandchildren Reagan Mailen, Aquila Mailen, Juliana Mailen, Rachel Goldberg, and Molly Goldberg. She always appreciated the love and devotion of Gail’s children and their families: Diana and Bob Williams; Bruce and Faun Bauer; Brian Bauer and Bobbi Patterson; and Pera Jo and Tom Rockefeller. Their children and grandchildren were part of her extended family and were very special to her.
She appreciated the wonderful friendships she was able to form at Treyton Oaks Towers, including residents as well as many staff members with whom she formed close bonds during her nearly seven years in Louisville.
Charitable contributions can be made in her memory to:
- Eric and Dorothy Friesen Scholarship Fund (Clay Center Community Improvement Fund, memo: Eric and Dorothy Friesen Scholarship Fund, 432 Court Street, Clay Center, KS 67432)
- Treyton Oaks Towers Employee’s Christmas Fund (211 West Oak Street, Louisville, KY 40203)
- Clay Center United Methodist Church (921 Fifth Street, Clay Center, KS 67432)
Funeral services are February 27, 2021 at Clay Center United Methodist Church, Clay Center, Kansas. Dorothy will be laid to rest in Greenwood Cemetery, Clay Center, Kansas. Arrangements entrusted to Herman Meyer & Son, Inc.