Lillian, “Lil” Friedbauer, age 101, passed away Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019, after residing a number of years in the care of St. Michael’s nursing home in Virginia, Minn.
Born in the tiny berg of Mason, Wis., Jan. 11, 1918, to Martin and Mary Ann Roatch Wilcox. She attended school until eighth grade and then left to board with families in Ashland over the next few years as she finished high school and a year of Ashland County Normal, in preparation for a teachers license, and she taught for a year in a one-room schoolhouse before starting her own family.
Lil met and married Sidney Friedbauer, Sept. 30, 1938, after a short engagement of 4 ½ months and they later celebrated 63 years of marriage before Sid’s passing Oct. 11, 2001, prior to his 87th birthday. From this union came four children – Janice (Mervin) Mannausau, Kathryn (Darrell) Ruelle, Kurt and Christina (James) Robb.
She and Sid moved to International Falls, Minn., in 1940, following in the path of her parents and three brothers, as work was plentiful in the area. They bought a tiny house a block from her family, in Jameson Addition where they continued to live throughout their married life.
While Sid served two years in Europe during World War II, Lil worked in the Insulite mill, like so many other women of that time, as a sheet tender, keeping the mill in production when men were a shortage due to the war. During that time she was also raising a young daughter.
After Sid returned, in 1950 they built a new house and started the second phase of their family. With Sid returning to work in the mill, Lil worked waiting tables in various restaurants. They also, along with help from her brother, Paul Wilcox, took in and cared for her parents as they became aged and incapacitated, until the deaths of Martin and Mary Ann Wilcox in 1953-54.
Over the years Sid and Lil kept a huge garden and expanded the property by purchasing adjoining lots, putting in a basement and by the mid 60’s, moved the house to the next door site onto the original Jameson homestead. They both hunted and fishing and Lil canned foods for the family every year.
As a homemaker, there was often the company of friends, distant family members and strangers, as Sid guided on days off from the mill and Lil was always at the ready to fry fish, sometime after dark, when Sid returned to the dock and hollered “get the grease hot Lilly!” Their door was always open to guests from all over, including family and companions from Wisconsin and friends of their children, who were welcomed with fresh bread, caramel, flat rolls and pies. In her free time, she and her sister-in-law, Paully Wilcox, often played a fast three games of Scrabble daily, when time permitted.
Lillian was a member of St. Thomas Parish and active in St. Thomas League for many years, serving as club vice and president. She also volunteered in various community events over her lifetime.
Her skills as a seamstress and baker were well known and she sewed the new street length habits of the nuns of St. Thomas in the 70’s. Lil baked weekly for many years as a form of payment to their family doctor after their oldest daughter’s year long illness in eighth grade. Over the years she sewed tents, boat tops and airplane covers, plus challenging vogue patterns as Lil was game for anything put before her and relished new clothing styles. She also had a gift for writing poetry about those subjects that inspired her, in her words “I’ve lived on the upper Rainy River and along with the extremes of weather, sleepless nights, and, vof course, friends and family have had some influence on my poetry.” Other pastimes included league bowling, hosting card parties in their home,as well as evenings out dancing with her husband.
Lil and Sid made a number of trips to central Minnesota, hunting pheasant and grouse with friends and the family’s Weimaraner hunting dogs, which they raised for a number of years. She was also featured in the daily paper with an article concerning the booking of wild game.
Lillian also had a passion for travel and was primed to go as much as possible starting in the mid 60’s when her West Coast brother sent her tickets for her first flight, afterward she was forever hooked on flying and enjoyed trips to see his family on the Washington coast, staying in his Swiss chalet style retreat on Long Beach a number of times, but also driving or taking the train along the Canadian route with Sid or friends. She traveled east to Saginaw, Mich., or and made many trips to Wisconsin to see other family members and took numerous trips to Colorado, Alaska and California to see her son, daughter, niece and families. She regretted never seeing the Hawaiian Islands.
In 1981, Lil and Sid sold their home to their daughter and moved next door to a house newly remodeled by their son-in-law, daughter and Sid, where they lived the next 25 years, continuing to care for the yard and gardens as they had before, as long as they were active. It was the perfect set up as they were living on one level and yet remained in the same location they loved on the shore of the upper Rainy River, as if they never left the yard!
Lillian became diabetic at age 64, but mastered the disease and controlled her own injections and continued to travel and stay busy over the years. After Sid died, Lil moved to town with her youngest daughter before moving one last time to St. Michael’s facility in Virginia, Min., where she lived out her remaining years.
She was preceded in death by her parents and all eight of her siblings, including her five brothers, Eugene, Vernon, Edward, Stanley and most recently Paul, who was nearly 99, along with her two sisters, Roslyn and Geraldine; her husband, Sidney; daughter, Janice Mannausau; and granddaughter, Melody Woods.
Lillian is survived by her three remaining children; eight grandchildren; numerous great-grandchildren; many loving nieces and nephews; plus her last close friend, Terry Sontorovich, now of Michigan.
Recently, a private burial was held at St. Thomas Cemetery in International Falls where Lil was interred with her husband and next to her parents, Martin and Mary, and brother, Eugene.
If so desired, memorial donations may be sent to St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, St. Thomas or Forest Hill cemeteries, or the charity of your choice, with deep appreciation from the families.
I am weak and I am weary
But the grave’s not yet my goal.
Would that I were young and strong, Lord,
You could make me fresh and whole.
Is it true my days are numbered
And I have naught to do but wait?
Give me just some extra time, Lord,
Before I face the Pearly Gate.
Precious time is what I need, Lord,
Time to make a few amends,
Time to make complete atonement,
Time I thought would never end.
Time I thought I had so much of,
Did I waste a single day?
Have I lived it to the fullest,
Or has a lifetime slipped away?
Lord, you know my good and bad points.
When they’re on the scale to weigh,
If the bad outweighs the good, Lord,
Spare me just another day.
If there’s good that I can do, Lord,
All you do is point the way.
I will hasten to comply, Lord,
Give me just another day.
- L. A. Friedbauer (March 6, 1974)