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Inaugural Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award to Altona Citizen Ted Friesen

CMU award recognizes lifetime of achievement and service

ted friesen
ted friesen

For release September 28, 2010

CMU presented its inaugural Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award on September 25, 2010 naming Altona citizen Ted Friesen as the first recipient. The award recognizes distinguished achievement and service within the broader community or church, through business, leadership, artistic, political, or volunteer contributions. Presentation of the award was held in conjunction with CMU’s President’s Dinner during annual Homecoming Events.

“I am pleased to announce the Blazer Distinguished Community Service Award and feel privileged to introduce its inaugural recipient, Ted Friesen,” said CMU President Gerald Gerbrandt to a full house in CMU’s Great Hall.

Retired businessman Ted E. Friesen, together with his two brothers, further developed D.W. Friesen & Sons (now Friesens Corporation) into a major business, fully employee owned, and serving the community in significant ways. Throughout his career, Friesen has been an active participant in Mennonite Central Committee, the Canadian Conference of Mennonites, and Eden Mental Health. He also served as the Secretary and President of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada for 28 years (1968 – 1996) and it was during this period that the three-volume Mennonites in Canada was published. A lifelong resident of Altona, Friesen is a founding member of the Altona Mennonite Church.

“I am very grateful for the honour bestowed on me on this occasion by CMU,” said Ted Friesen in accepting the award. “That feeling is also accompanied by a sense of humility when I remember colleagues and co-workers in the various organizations that I have been associated with in the past who would be as worthy if not more worthy for achievements in the area of our mutual work. So, as a survivor, I also accept this award remembering their contributions.”

Friesen began working with his father’s business at the age of 16, Gerbrandt said, noting that today, nearly 75 years later, Ted Friesen still walks across town to the company office, in summer and in winter. “Over the 35 years that Ted and his two brothers, Dave and Ray, led the business, they grew it into one of the premier, most technologically sophisticated printing companies in North America,” said Gerbrandt. “Ted, like his father and brothers, believed that a business should serve its community, and Friesens has modelled that commitment.”

Friesens Corporation has grown into a company of international status and prints for such organizations as National Geographic and major American universities. Not only is it the largest employer in Altona, said Gerbrandt, the employees actually own the company in a unique employee ownership structure

Gerbrandt noted that, besides being an outstanding businessman, Ted Friesen is a churchman and an involved community citizen. “Ted grew up in the Altona Bergthaler Church, and remained active there for many years. Later, he became a founding member of Altona Mennonite, where he and Linie remain active. As a young man, he became involved with the Board of Christian Service of the Canadian Conference,” said Gerbrandt, “and in 1964 he was on the first executive of MCC Canada, helping to establish MCC’s office in Ottawa in 1970.” His involvement with MCC developed his conviction that Mennonites in Canada needed their history told, said Gerbrandt, which led to the establishment of the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada in 1968,

“I worked in two communities,” Friesen commented, “the local one, which is the Altona community; and the community of Canada, on the board level of Mennonite Central Committee and the Mennonite Historical Society of Canada and other organizations. When I look at all of these today, I am amazed at how they have grown from humble beginnings and have reached a position that is making a significant impact today, in today’s society, both in the Mennonite and in the larger community. I rejoice that past efforts have been blessed beyond all expectations.”

Gerbrandt further noted Ted’s passion for quality classical music, observing that Ted and Linie raised their family to appreciate fine music and today remain regular attendees at concerts. “Many a young musician has been encouraged through support from Ted and Linie,” said Gerbrandt.

Gerbrandt expressed the appreciation and gratitude of the CMU community for Ted Friesen’s lifelong service to the community: “Thank you, Ted Friesen.”

“I want to give tribute to my good wife Linie and my family who have been very, very supportive all the way. And, in closing,” said Friesen, “I simply want to say with JS Bach, Soli deo Gloria – to God be the Glory.”

Canadian Mennonite University (CMU) is a Christian university in the Anabaptist tradition, offering undergraduate degrees in arts and science, business and organizational administration, communications and media, peace and conflict resolution studies, music and music therapy, theology, and church ministries, as well as graduate degrees in Theological Studies and Christian ministry. Located in Winnipeg, Manitoba, CMU has over 1,800 students at its Shaftesbury Campus in Southwest Winnipeg, at Menno Simons College in downtown Winnipeg, and enrolled through its Outtatown discipleship school. CMU is a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Media contact:
Nadine Kampen, CMU Communications & Marketing Director;
204.487.3300 Ext. 621
Canadian Mennonite University
500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, MB R3P 2N2