Manitoba Historical Society
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Memorable Manitobans: Abraham Penner Friesen (1887-1953)


Born at Steinbach on 2 June 1887, son of Johann Isaac Friesen (1860-1941) and Helena Penner (1961-1917), he was raised at the family homestead in Blumenort and attended grade school locally. At the age of 13, he apprenticed at a flour mill in Steinbach, and two years later held responsibility as the night miller. To upgrade his education, he attended the Gretna Normal School after the turn of the century and began working in rural Manitoba schools around 1906, including terms as Principal of Steinbach School (1914-1917, 1919-1923).

In the pursuit of post-secondary training, he left Manitoba for Bethel College at North Newton, Kansas where he initially taught science and mathematics part-time while studying for a degree from the same institution (BA, 1924). Additional degrees followed from the University of Colorado (MA, 1928) and University of Kansas (PhD, 1935), and he began to write on scholarly and religious topics. During this time, he remained on staff at Bethel College for 18 years before moving to Texas around 1943, where he taught at Southwestern Georgetown University (Physics Department Head, 1949-1953) until the time of his death. He was a member of the American Institute for the Advance of Science, American Association of Physics Teachers, American Physical Society, Optical Society of America, American Council of Mathematics Teachers, Kansas Academy of Science, and Texas Academy of Science.

On 25 July 1907, he married Agatha K. Hamm (1885-1957) at Gretna and they had five children: Otto A. Friesen (1910-1910), Wilhelmina Elizabeth “Willy” Friesen (1912-1986, wife of Gustave R. “Gus” Edigar), Elfrieda Helena Friesen (1915-2003, wife of Peter Pankratz), Anna H. “Louise” Friesen (1918-2012, wife of Peter Hagies), and Wilfred H. Friesen (1924-2009). His final visit to Steinbach occurred in 1952. He also served on the Board of Stewart’s for St. John’s Methodist Church.

He died at Georgetown, Texas on 31 July 1953 and was buried at Wichita, Kansas.


Birth, marriage, and death registrations, Manitoba Vital Statistics.

Death registrations, British Columbia Vital Statistics.

1901 and 1906 Canada censes, Automated Genealogy.

1916 Canada census, Library and Archives Canada.

“Bethel faculty for next year,” Newton Weekly Kansas-Republican, 18 May 1923, page 6.

“Thursday rites slated for SU Prof. Friesen,” Austin American, 5 August 1953, page 11.

“Funeral service set Thursday for Dr. Friesen,” Austin American, 6 August 1953, page 1.

“Steinbach district news [Dr. A. P. Friesen],” Steinbach Carillon News, 7 August 1953, page 4.

“Steinbach’s outsanding scholar,” Steinbach Carillon News, 7 August 1953, page 4.

“Dr. Brown to Head Physics Dept. at Southwestern,” Taylor Daily Press, 20 August 1953, page 9.

Texas death registrations, Ancestry.

Dueck family tree, Ancestry.

This page was prepared by Nathan Kramer.

Page revised: 2 January 2019

Memorable Manitobans

Memorable Manitobans

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