Jacob T. Friesen, M.Div., 100, an AMBS alumnus and former employee, died June 6, 2020, at Kidron Bethel Village, North Newton, Kansas.
Jacob earned a Master of Divinity from AMBS in 1976. From 1987 to 1997, he served as quarter-time director of the Great Plains Seminary Education Program, a conference-based initiative in North Newton, Kansas, that began in 1980 and was co-sponsored by Western District and South Central conferences. The program from the June 1, 2014, “Closing Yet Ongoing” Celebration of what later became the AMBS–Great Plains Extension describes a characteristic of the era of Jacob’s service as “the continual discussion of the relationship of the ‘conference-based theological education centers’ and AMBS (which granted academic credit).” From 1987 to 1993, “the Great Plains Program thrived,” with 395 registrations — 161 credit and 234 audit.
A memorial service for Jacob was held on Sunday, July 26, 2020, at Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, Kansas. The service was streamed online simultaneously.Publish
Jacob T. Friesen
1919 – 2020
Jacob T. Friesen, 100, died June 6, 2020, at Kidron Bethel Village, North Newton, Kansas. Born on Dec. 30, 1919, to Jacob L. and Helena Toews Friesen, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, he was the fourth of five children and lived on the family farm until he was 21. After completing country school, Mountain Lake High School and winter-months local Bible school, he enrolled at Freeman Junior College, eventually transferring to Bethel College, where he graduated in 1944 with a major in History. Advanced degrees earned include a Th.B. from New York Biblical Seminary and a Th.M. from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He held student pastorates at Reedley, California; Halstead, Kansas; Fredonia, Kansas; and First Mennonite, Beatrice, Nebraska.
He was deeply involved in his home church, Bethel Mennonite Church, Mountain Lake, Minnesota, as Sunday school teacher, singing in ensembles, and organizing and leading a youth choir. He was baptized on his faith in Jesus Christ on Pentecost 1938.
Jacob married Lisbeth Koehn of Meno, Oklahoma, Sept. 2, 1945. They both enrolled in N.Y. Biblical Seminary. After graduation they moved to Beatrice, Nebraska, to pastor the First Mennonite Church. Priscilla Jean and Jacob Lowell were born here. In 1953-54 they served with MCC as director, living in Frankfurt, West Germany. In 1956 he accepted the pastorate of First Mennonite Church of Bluffton, Ohio, serving from 1956-67. Von Tyler was born here. Jacob was Director of Admissions at Bluffton College 1967-69. Lisbeth completed her life of faithfulness and lost her battle with cancer Jan. 20, 1971.
Jacob served on the General Conference Mennonite Church Board of Education and Publication for 15 years, Vice President of General Conference for six years, and Central District Conference Pastor for six years. He established the office of Ministerial Leadership Services of General Conference and served as director for 10 years. In retirement he served interim pastorates at Grace Hill Mennonite Church, First Mennonite, Hillsboro, and Hesston Mennonite. He gave leadership for 10 years to the Great Plains Seminary Education Program, helping to establish it as a viable graduate-level educational opportunity. He developed and directed a public forum, the Growing Edge, focused on difficult and controversial public and church-related issues.
In 1972, he married Lola Regier Wiebe, blending her family of four children with his three. After living in Elkhart, Indiana, for several years, they moved to North Newton in 1976, where they united with Faith Mennonite Church.
Jacob continued a strong interest in biblical studies, Anabaptist history and theology, archeology, and administration. He was active in Faith Mennonite Church as deacon, member of pastor search and education committees, and as a Sunday School teacher. He represented Faith Church on the Kidron Bethel Board of Directors for nine years.
In retirement he enjoyed the out of doors, owned and trained registered Arabian horses, kept bees, managed rental property, and enjoyed gardening and maintenance at home. He enjoyed travel.
He was committed to being father to Lola’s children as his own. The end of December 2019 brought a weekend of life-affirming memories for this blended family as they gathered to celebrate Jacob's 100th birthday as well as honoring Lola with her memorial service.
After 47 years of marriage, Lola preceded Jacob in death on Nov. 21, 2019. He was also preceded in death by his parents; two sisters, Eveline and Rosella; and two brothers, Arno and Elmer.
Family members surviving include: Priscilla Friesen Felton and Rob Felton, Washington, D.C.; Jacob L. Friesen (Jake) and Armen Guzelimian, Camarillo, California; Von Friesen and Christy Neece Friesen, Athens, Georgia; Ruth Wiebe-Tanner and Roland Tanner, Mesa, Arizona; Mark and Kathy Lyndaker Wiebe, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Mary Wiebe Patten and Mike Patten, Whitestown, Indiana; and Lois Wiebe Koulouris and Tom Koulouris, Hollywood, Florida. Three grandchildren, Jaclyn, Riley, and McKenna Friesen; ten step grandchildren; Nathan (Anne) Hofer, Katie Hofer, Jordan Berry, William (Abbie) Wiebe, Dorian (Linnzi) Patten, Justin (Rachel) Patten, Sarah Patten (Christian) Sagardia, Angela Quijano, Anne Felton (Chip) Paque, Catherine Felton (Sam) Moy and 12 step great grandchildren: Isaac and Maya Paque; Madison, Eli, and Teagan Moy; Graham and Reid Hofer; Lyle and Troy Patten; Douglas and Jeshurun Patten; Audrey Sagardia.
The following Bible verse was given to Jacob's father at age 21 by his grandfather before he died on Dec. 25, 1910; “For none of us lives to himself alone and none dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7-8)
A memorial service was held on Sunday, July 26, 2020, at Faith Mennonite Church, Newton, Kansas. The service was streamed online simultaneously.
In lieu of flowers, please send gifts to the Jacob T. and Lola Friesen Memorial Fund for the Vision Impaired at Kidron Bethel. https://kidronbethel.org/giving/donate or checks payable to Kidron Bethel Village with designation in the memo: send to KBV % Fund Advancement, 3001 Ivy Drive, North Newton, KS 67117.
- AMBS–Great Plains extension site to close (Feb. 3, 2014)
- Winds of change, breath of Spirit reframe theological education on Great Plains (June 10, 2014)