Robert Friedman, 82

Robert Friedman

Robert Friedman

EXETER, N.H. — Robert Friedman, 82, died on June 26, 2013 in Exeter, N.H.

He was born on June 28, 1930, in Chicago, Illinois, to Della Brus Friedman and Charles Phillip Friedman. In 1948 he graduated from Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Illinois. Bob attended Wheaton College in Illinois, and graduated with a BA in philosophy in 1956. He received his seminary degree from Fuller Theological School in California in 1960, and then returned to Wheaton to earn a Master's Degree in Theology in 1963.

After graduating from seminary, Bob served at churches in Illinois and Pennsylvania, focusing on ministry to youth. For two years, he taught philosophy and religion at Geneva College. He became an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church, USA, in 1964.

Bob met Sondra (Sonnie) Kruse Smith while they were chaperoning a high school mission trip together in Kentucky. She was a widow with two young children, Laurie and Philip. Sonnie and Bob were married on Sept. 18, 1965, and lived in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where their daughter Jennifer was born. In 1967 the family moved to Queens, New York, where Bob served as the pastor of the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church for 25 years.

Under the leadership of Reverend Friedman, the ministry of the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church strove to make tangible the Christian commandment to “Love thy Neighbor.” This community ministry included the many children and their families who attended the Ridgewood Preschool, the mentally ill who received care at the Ridgewood Mental Health Program, the substance users who received methadone and attended 12-Step meetings in the church building, and the hundreds of seniors who received services and meals in the church and their homes through the multiservice programs at the Ridgewood Older Adult Center.

Reverend Friedman was active in the Presbytery of New York City. Along with his wife Sonnie, he participated in civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activities and continued to work for peace and social justice.

Bob was a dedicated teacher and a lifelong learner. He received a MA in Education from New York University in 1971. He took multiple study trips to the Middle East. He was involved with the Westar Institute, and continued teaching adult Christian education in his area of special interest — the origins of Christianity and the historical Jesus — into his retirement.

A serious photographer, with a basement darkroom, as well as a woodworker with a well-provisioned carpentry shop, Bob also enjoyed waterskiing and hiking. Bob and Sonnie spent many summers at Hancock Pond in Maine. In 1989 they began building their retirement home there, with Bob retiring in 1993. In 2006 they moved to Riverwoods, a continuing care community in Exeter, N.H.

Predeceased by his wife Sondra and brother Howard, he is survived by his sister Jean Weigel of Hot Springs Arkansas; his children Laurie Friedman and spouse Barbara Hume of Cambridge, Mass., Philip Friedman and spouse Karen of Peaks Island, Maine, Jennifer Sanborn and spouse Stephen of Amesbury, Mass.; and  grandchildren Charles Friedman, Aaron and Michael Hume, and Mariana and Elena Sanborn.

A memorial service and reception celebrating his life is planned for early Sept. 2013 at Riverwoods in Exeter, N.H. All are welcome. Brewitt Funeral Home, 14 Pine St., Exeter, N.H. is handling the arrangements.

The family especially would like to thank the wonderful staff of the Lodge at Riverwoods for their generous love and care.  Memorial contributions may be made to Doctors Without Borders (, 333 7th Avenue New York, NY 10001-5004. To sign an online guestbook, please visit



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