Fred Friswold showed an interest in community service at an early age.
He was a sixth-grader at Keewaydin Elementary School in south Minneapolis when he got behind his first cause.
Friswold and three of his civics class mates successfully petitioned the Minneapolis Park Board to reverse a decision and allow a sledding hill near Lake Nokomis to stay open.
It was the start of a lifelong avocation for Friswold. He went on to volunteer with several organizations, including the University of Minnesota Alumni Association (UMAA), the University of Minnesota Foundation, University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, United Way, YMCA and Rotary Club of Minneapolis.
Friswold, of Edina, died June 24 from cancer. He was 83.
One of the highlights of his community service efforts is the McNamara Alumni Center on the University of Minnesota campus. When he was president of the UMAA in the late 1980s, he recruited Larry Laukka and Dale Olseth to find a permanent home for the UMAA on campus. The trio led the efforts to raise $46 million to build the center.
In addition to helping get the alumni center built, Friswold and his wife, Marie, led fundraising efforts for pediatric research and the Adopt-A-Room program at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital. Their daughter Michelle had died of leukemia in 1967, when she was 4. University of Minnesota Foundation President and CEO Kathy Schmidlkofer described Friswold as much more than a university volunteer and donor.
“He was a steadfast champion who stepped into so many volunteer leadership roles to drive projects forward, leaving lasting legacies throughout the University. He will be greatly missed as someone who always asked the right questions, lent a hand to work through challenges, and championed people along the way,” she said in a statement.
In 1997, Friswold told the Star Tribune that he didn’t succeed in one area.
“I flunked retirement,” said Friswold.
Friswold first retired in 1990 after 32 years with Dain Bosworth. After leaving the regional brokerage firm, he served on the boards of several foundations, including as a director of the Metro YMCA. He was also active in the Rotary Club.
In 1992, he led an investment group that bought Tonka Equipment Company. Friswold embarked on a second career as the president and CEO of the Plymouth-based company. Friswold was born to Inglaf and Derrise Friswold on Jan. 21, 1937, in Minneapolis. After graduating from Minneapolis Roosevelt in 1954, he earned a B.S.B. degree in finance from the University of Minnesota in 1958.
He went to work as a securities analyst for J.M. Dain & Co. (the predecessor to Dain Bosworth). He became the president of the firm in 1982. In 1988, he became the firm’s chief executive.
Former UMAA President Dave Mona said Friswold left a lasting legacy.
“Fred would often sit quietly for part of a meeting before joining the conversation with something like … ‘It just seems to me that ...’ and whatever followed would make so much sense that it would successfully end the conversation,” Mona said in an e-mail, describing Friswold as one of the U’s most important volunteer contributors for several decades.
In addition to his wife of 62 years, Friswold is survived by daughters Cyndie Hays of Beldenville, Wis., and Rabi Birgen of Bear, Del.; sons Steve Friswold of Eden Prairie, Barry Friswold of Boston and Ben Friswold of Edina, and 11 grandchildren. A celebration service will be held at a later date.