Richard Friedemann
MeadowWood Memorial Park
700 Timberlane Road
Tallahassee, FL
Richard Friedemann

Tallahassee - After an amazing, miraculous and inspiring journey through life, Richard A. Friedemann peacefully passed away at home surrounded by his loving family. His 92 years began in Krakow, Poland as the 2nd child of Leon Friedmann & Lilla Friedmann (Frischer). After a short idyllic childhood in a home filled with love, good food and art, the Nazis invaded Poland and tore their lives apart forever. Initially, Richard and his mother fled to Lvov, while his father and brother Zygmunt were called up by the Polish Army reserve. After a short stay in Lvov, the Soviets invaded from the east. Richard and his mother Lilla fled back to Krakow. They were re-united with the rest of the family with Poland now under Nazi rule. The family was denounced by a traitorous neighbor, the gestapo arrived and the family was forced from their home with only a few items. They fled to a nearby village located near Krakow. In the village they were hidden by a widowed Christian woman (Mrs. Adela Pilch). Unfortunately, the Nazi's einsatzgruppen began investigating the village. Not wanting to endanger the Pilch family, the Friedmann's traveled back to Krakow, where the family was forced to separate. Lilla was denounced and was murdered in a notorious prison in Krakow. Leon and Richard were swept up and imprisoned in Plaszow Concentration Camp. Richard's brother Zygmunt came to Plaszow after being caught spying for the British. Richard's father was murdered in Plaszow camp. The night after his murder, Richard and Zygmunt pulled their father's body from the cart destined for the mass grave, crawled under an internal wire and buried their father in a hand-dug grave. After Plaszow, Richard and Zygmunt began a hellish journey through Auschwitz-Birkenau, Dachau, Kaufering-Landsburg, Augsburg, and the underground Messerschmitt-werke facility. Surviving numerous brushes with death, Richard and his brother were forced on a death march from one of the sub-camps in April of 1945. The march was designed to kill prisoners through exertion. Those that survived the march were led to a clearing in the woods near Klimach, where they were to be murdered. A U.S. bomber squadron flying over the area spotted the execution field, popped smoke and alerted a nearby tank destroyer unit of the situation. The U.S. unit (part of the Rainbow Division) rolled up on the site and saved the survivors of the concentration camp from execution. After liberation Richard joined the Polish Guard, hoping to return to his beloved Poland. Unfortunately, the communists had already infiltrated and taken control of Poland. The Polish Guard unit was put on a train that was ostensibly going to Poland; however, the train was diverted and it became apparent to some on the train that Russia was the real destination. Richard and a small group of others jumped from the train. Those that remained on the train were most likely executed by the NKVD. Upon his return to the U.S. base, Richard was offered transport to the U.S.A., which he accepted. Shortly after his arrival, he joined the U.S. ARMY and served honorably during the period of the Korean Conflict in Battery C, 169th AAA BN. After the war, he began his schooling and worked a number of jobs. One particular job had him working as a cook in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. During his first summer of work there, he met his future wife Katharine Oliver. During his second summer in Old Orchard Beach, he proposed and was married to his beloved wife Katharine in 1954. He continued his schooling at the University of Rhode Island and received his BA in 1956. In the same year his first child, Karen was born. He later earned his master's degree in Social Work from Simmons College in June of 1958. In 1960, his son Mark was born. Shortly after Mark's birth the family moved from New England to Iowa and Richard began his professional career as a pyschiatric social worker. During his professional life, Richard assisted so many people it is difficult to count. He saved numerous people from suicide and counseled scores of people with serious mental, physical and emotional problems. He was very involved in the civil rights movement and in a catholic charity at St. Edwards in Waterloo, Iowa that was focused on renovating homes for impoverished families. He wrote a number of papers including a definitive group therapy program for single-mothers on welfare. He was active in the community sponsoring art exhibits and taking part in the foreign exchange program, hosting several different foreign students. He was an avid collector of art and loved traditional Polish folk music and modern music, especially Pink Floyd and the Doors. His charitable works are too numerous to count. During his years of work in Waterloo, he would travel to Vinton, Iowa on Mondays after work to counsel patients in the hospital for little or no pay. He adored his family, making up stories to tell his children at bedtime, including "Jonathan the Brave" and "Peppi the Pirate". Richard exposed his family to art, culture and travel, taking them on numerous vacations including trips to almost every single state in the Union. He was an obsessive stamp collector, amassing a huge collection of covers and stamps. So much so, that he was forced to open a business selling stamps and covers at stamps shows around the country where he accumulated more stamps, but more importantly many life-long friends. Richard's past history remained a mystery to his children until 1996, when his legal efforts to win back his home in Poland finally succeeded. During that year, he took his son Mark to Poland to reclaim his home and while there, revealed the terrible history of his early life. In addition to his past history, Richard also introduced Mark to a number of old and new Polish friends and Polish culture itself. His life was kept secret from his children out of fear that history might repeat itself. Part of that secret included his Jewish heritage. His children were born and raised catholic as Richard had a strangely significant interaction during his time in the concentration camps. During his time in Auschwitz-Birkenau, he was in an isolation cell when a voice from the adjoining cell gave him words of encouragement and faith. Richard found this event odd and it formed a lasting memory. Later in Dachau while in a similar cell, a voice spoke up from the next cell over. It was the same words of encouragement. Richard was astonished and asked who it was that was speaking to him and if this person had been in Auschwitz. It was a catholic priest, who had miraculously been the one in Auschwitz as well. His name was Father Harte and this strange encounter formulated Richard's conversion to Catholicism. Richard and his loving wife Kay moved from Iowa to Florida in 1984, living in the Jacksonville area until 2016. He was a member of the Polish-American club there and treasured his time dancing, drinking and conversing with his fellow Poles. He was a true patriot to America and to Poland. In 2016 he moved to Tallahassee to live with his son Mark, as his beloved wife was ill and her care was becoming difficult. Richard, Mark and Karen returned to Poland in 2018 for the publication of Richard's book (in Polish) "One of Many" and to continue the long hard work of restoring the family home. Lucid, witty and brilliant to the end, he spoke so lovingly of his wife of 65 years, proudly saying, "Look at my beautiful wife". She is beautiful and now we're also looking at the beautiful life you lived.

Proceeded in death by Leon, his father, Lilla, his mother, Zygmunt, his brother and his extended family in Poland. Also proceeded in death by Dorothy Oliver, Jean Turner, Perry Turner and John Conroy. He loved them all.

Survived by his wonderful wife Kay, his daughter Karen, his son Mark, his daughter-in-law Chitnuchar, 2 grandchildren, Jessica and Shane and 4 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Janet Conroy, the awesome Conroy clan and the three wonderful Turner sister's. His love for you all is immense.

Services for this humble and incredible man will be held on Saturday, August 31st at 1:30 pm at the MeadowWood Memorial Park, 700 Timberlane Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32312.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Alzheimer Project in Tallahassee, Florida.

Published by Tallahassee Democrat on Aug. 25, 2019.
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700 Timberlane Road, Tallahassee, FL
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29 Entries
I did not know him but my tears are flowing. A life well lived. My your memory be blessed and G-d hold you in his arms,
june meshulam
September 13, 2019
Much RESPECT for a life well lived. May G-d bless the family members during this difficult time and may Mr. Friedemann's memory be a blessing in your lives.
Marion Gimbel
September 11, 2019
Richard is safe in the arms of Jesus. God is good. My sympathy to his family.
Elizabeth Crissup
September 10, 2019
First, let me offer you my deepest sympathy for your loss. I am so glad this wonderful man survived and was moved to share his journey as a testimony to others. I'm sorry the memories caused him such pain. My family members who were in the European Theater during WWII also had their scars, mostly as witnesses to the atrocities against humanity. My father also shared many of his experiences with us and I'm so grateful he did. It helped us to understand him and to appreciate how fragile life is for us all. I am most proud that my father instilled in us a sense of goodness and gratitude. He truly felt a responsibility to live his life in a way that would honor all of the people who were not so fortunate to survive the horrors of the war.....and he did. Having left this world at the age of 92, he never forgot the men and women he flew out of Europe who had been freed from the camps and his fellow airmen who never returned home.
God bless your family during this difficult time.
D Lee
September 2, 2019
Richard was such a fun-loving and a deeply caring, devoted person. He will be woefully missed by his family and friends. But I hope his story will live on with the poignance provided by his personal story and vibrant personality.
Vicki Tauxe
August 31, 2019
Dear Mark and Chitnuchar,
My heart goes to you in this difficult time. I hope all the loving lovely memories of your father will comfort you and provide solace.
Your friend,
Trina Mitchell
August 31, 2019
Just read Mr. Friedemann's story in the Tallahassee Democrat. He accomplished many things as an amazing WWII survivor, fighter, patriot for home country Poland, patriot for adopted country USA, and family man. Sorry for his loss to his family and this country. He gave more than he took. God bless.
Kathy Miklus
August 31, 2019
Our love to each you. Elaine Salvati, cousin of Dick's wife, Kay
Elaine and Steve
August 31, 2019
August 30, 2019
We were very blessed to have Dick and Kay as friends. Dick's escaping the gas chamber by sheer wit reflected his ingenuity. He bubbled over with life in his appreciation for life. The world was better because of him. Leon and Julie Pipho
Leon Pipho
August 29, 2019
I am so sorry to learn of Richard's passing. I met Richard in 1992 when I was doing graduate work at the University of North Florida. He graciously invited me into his home and allowed me to interview him about his experiences during World War II and as a Holocaust survivor. His interview became an integral part of a project examining the experiences of Holocaust survivors in northeast Florida. Several years later Richard allowed some of my students to interview him for their own research projects. He was always a kindhearted, pleasant and sweet man who achieved so much in his life despite losing so much as a young man. A few years ago I learned that Richard had regained ownership of his family home in Krakow, Poland, and we talked at length about how long it took him to achieve this remarkable feat. I was so happy for him--I know it meant a great deal to be able to reclaim his childhood home after so many years. Richard was the kind of person anyone could like, and his contributions to his fellow human beings as a social worker are immeasurable. The world is a better place because of Richard Friedemann, and I extend my deepest condolences to his family. I will be forever grateful that I had the honor and pleasure of knowing him.
Patrick Nolan
August 29, 2019
Even though I did not know your family, I was so touched by learning about his life. Our younger generations need to hear stories of courage like this, and understand our history so it is not repeated. I'm so glad he shared his story with you and you with the world. May God bless you all in your loss.
Sally Ericksen
August 28, 2019
If only the world was filled with Richard Friedemann's.
His life should be talked about in schools.
Almighty God will welcome him with opened arms and live in paradise with his family forever.
I'm blessed to have read Richards story.
Tom Stefl
August 27, 2019
This is a story for all ages. His battles, sacrifices and hardships have not gone unnoticed. He was a remarkable man, hearing his story. I would have loved to have known him and listened to his history. There are still many people who don't understand the horrific atrocities committed by the Nazis, and I am so glad he survived to share his knowledge. Please know that the family are in my heart and prayers as you go through this difficult time. God Bless.
Sandi Parrott
August 27, 2019
God bless Soldier Friedemann,thank you sir!
Andrew Lau
August 27, 2019
Thank you for sharing this amazing and inspiring story. He sounds like a remarkable man and I know you will miss him greatly. God bless your family.
Is his book translated to English? I would be very interested in reading more about his story. Thank you again for giving us a glimpse into this incredible life.
Marsha Morrison
August 26, 2019
Thank you for sending this incredible life story to the Courier for local Iowa readers. I did not know Richard but the family name was known. We in the Waterloo area had a gift that many did not realize till now.
J.A. Hanson
August 26, 2019
Thank you for sharing this most incredible story of this loving man. I pray that we NEVER forget what happened to him and million others. May God Bless you and your family and give you comfort in knowing that your father is truly home in Heaven.

Loyce and Wilbur Reeves
August 26, 2019
I am filled with love and appreciation for Richard. His courage in the face of death and his determination to do the right thing all through his life are wonderful to read about. My thoughts are with the family. Thank goodness for the survival of such strong and loving genes.
Kelly Gregg
August 26, 2019
Thank you for sharing the life story of this most remarkable human being. I join others in saying it would have been an honor to have met or known Mr. Friedemann. My grandparents were from Krackow, but managed, by the grace of God, to leave Poland in the early 1900's for America.

May peace fill your hearts knowing that his eternal soul rests in the light and love of Almighty God. May He bless you all.

With sympathy,
Katherine Shoaf
August 25, 2019
Your father lived a remarkable life. His obituary is worth reading by anyone who wonders why they are on earth: to find the good in all and help them along. Bless you for sharing his incredible story. May God comfort you as you celebrate his life but grieve his passing.
Christie Kimbrel
August 25, 2019
Mark & Karen,
Our heart goes out to you. Love the inspirational message about your father. He was and is a great man. I meant him when I worked with your mom, and our visits to their home in Florida for spring break with my daughters. They loved their talks with Dick about his past and were impressed by his wisdom. You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Love to both of you!
Rose Demuth, Tara Demuth Fenton & Lisa Simon
August 25, 2019
Our love, prayers and heart felt condolences to a wonderful Family.

Walter and Micki Liddell
August 25, 2019
Mark, all the best to you and your family my friend.
Allen Thompson
August 25, 2019
Thank you for sharing the life story of this remarkable man. It was an honor to read of his service and sacrifice. My sincere sympathies to the family.
Pat Pattison
August 25, 2019
Richard was the most open-hearted, witty, and gentle person. I have fond memories of his & Kay's many visits to see Mark in Tallahassee & help out around the house, always with much laughter and happiness. Many times in the past 3 decades I have thought about the wonderful parents Mark & Karen have. Best parents ever, with love for family as deep, strong and never-ending as the mightiest ocean current. May his love continue to hold you, Mark & Chitnuchar, and Karen. Sending you love and sympathy, ck
Carolyn Kindell
August 25, 2019
Deepest condolences especially to Mark and Karen. What a fighter Richard was! He loved and appreciated life and was dedicated to showing you the beauty around you. It's no wonder you have such love and respect for your dear father. Woody and I love you and wish you joy and peace in your memories of him.
August 25, 2019
This is certainly one of the most inspirational obituaries/biographies I have ever read. I would love to have known Richard.
Sandra Coulter
August 25, 2019
Thank you so much for sharing the story of this amazing man. So much heartbreak yet a heart full of love. It is an honor to read it.
Sara Huff
August 24, 2019
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