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Marjorie Lawson Friedman

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Marjorie Lawson Friedman Obituary
September 19, 1929 - December 11, 2015 Marjorie Jean Lawson Friedman of Los Angeles, CA, passed away at home on December 11, 2015. "Marj" was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on September 19, 1929. She enjoyed a peaceful childhood with her Danish immigrant parents, Frank V. Lawson and Andrea Dorothy Knudsen Lawson and beloved older brother Frank V. Lawson, Jr. But her eye was always scanning the horizon for another shore and a new adventure. She graduated with honors from North High School in Omaha and then headed east where she attended Wellesley College. While at Wellesley she met and became friends with her brother's Harvard roommates, one of whom was Harold "Hal" Friedman, and the two "friends" spent the next 20 years trying to "fix each other up" with someone else before realizing they were destined for each other. After graduating from Wellesley in 1951, Marj fell in love, not yet with Hal, but with San Francisco. She lived there for several years working at the Asia Foundation (as an alleged C.I.A. agent) and then as a travel writer for Pacific Travel News. While most of her contemporaries were settling down and starting families, Marj traveled the globe to places few dared to venture. She bargained at bazaars in Afghanistan, dined with headhunters in Borneo, escaped a coup in Laos, danced with Soviet nationals in Cold War Russia, waded in the Ganges in India and hiked in the foothills of Mt. Everest in Nepal. Marj would probably say her most challenging and rewarding adventure was motherhood. In 1968 she finally married Hal, who by then was a partner in the law firm, Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp, LLP and moved to Los Angeles, CA. She gave birth in 1970 to her first daughter, Andrea Fay Friedman, who was born with Down Syndrome. Against the advice of experts at that time, Marj and Hal raised Andrea at home and insisted that she be integrated academically and socially into the mainstream. Andrea attended college, lives independently and periodically leaves her 'day' job at Hal's law firm to act in TV and film. She also travels and delivers motivational speeches to people with developmental challenges. Andrea's experiences helped forge a trail for people with disabilities to be recognized, valued and celebrated. Continuing with her pioneering work to provide opportunities for people with challenges, Marj helped create The Pathway Program at UCLA Extension, a post high school education for people with developmental differences who would like to have a college experience. Marj would affectionately say her second daughter Katherine "Kay" Friedman Holland, born in 1972, was no less of a challenge to raise. She inherited many of her mother's qualities; her interest in travel, her love of writing, her insatiable need for sleep, her appreciation of a good sense of humor, her passion for bittersweet chocolate, her preference for big dogs and her very independent streak. Perhaps among the greatest gifts Marj ever received from Kay are her son-in-law Grant Holland and her two grandsons, Lawson (b. 2006) and Andrew (b. 2008), who lit up her days even as the light was fading. Hal summed it up best: "After a long and arduous journey, Marj has reached the summit. What a grand adventure it has been." Marj will always be cherished by all who knew her. If you wish to commemorate her life, please send donations to The Pathway Program at UCLA Extension: www.uclaextension.edu/pathway Phone: (310) 794-1235 In addition to her husband, daughters, son-in-law and grandsons, Marj is survived by her brother, her nieces Sue and Linda Lawson, her nephew Rick Lawson and Rick's wife Lynn and their two children, Eric and Gwen Lawson.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Dec. 14 to Dec. 15, 2015
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