Lou Friese, beloved facilities manager at First Street Methodist Mission, passed away on Tuesday, October 3. He had worked at the Mission for three years.
Everyone on staff at First Church and the Mission has their own to-do list, their own people to answer to or work with, all for the purpose of serving our church and community. But that focus on our own assignments doesn’t mean we don’t often help each other and join forces to help each other carry the load. Lou Friese was a champion of jumping in to help out in many ways, including checking in to see how we are doing and expressing gratitude for our work. He excelled at encouraging others.
Lou’s primary focus was managing the facilities at the Mission, making sure the building was clean and that things were ready for the service days when he and Mission Director Linda Murphy and the rest of the staff and their cadre of volunteers open the doors to neighbors in need. Hundreds of guests receiving food and other services pass through the doors of the Mission each week, so the work of preparing for all that is multifaceted.
Lou helped volunteers unload the food trucks and stock the shelves. He and various volunteers went to grocery stores to pick up donations. He moved tables and chairs, mopped up endless spills, set up for the Communion services that are offered monthly at the Mission, and helped take bags of food and other things out to the cars of guests who needed assistance with loading. He made coffee for the volunteers, prepared the big vats of lemonade for homeless guests, and always had time for conversation and laughter with the many people who were in and out of the Mission each day.
Though the Mission was his area of focus, he was often on hand to help out with things going on in the church building throughout the week and often on Sundays. When the school uniform drive was going on in August, Lou was here to gather up the uniforms that were collecting in the large bins of the main hall of the Sanctuary building and get them in place so that they could be sorted and eventually delivered to schools in the area. He wasn’t much for shopping, but he made a financial contribution to help with the drive.
When there were special events at church Lou was available to help set up, clean up, and welcome people. If you needed to see someone who was glad to see you, Lou was the guy. Dr. Mike Marshall said, “For me, Lou was a ‘Walking Welcome Wagon!’ Wherever I saw him across the many parts of our church campus, he was always upbeat — always interested in how I was doing — always willing to stop what he was doing to pause, smile, and have a moment of connection. And the great part of this was that Lou interacted with everyone in this way (it wasn’t unique to me).”
Lou loved his job and he loved our church. And, he had compassion for people in need.
He often spoke to Sunday School classes about his work to advocate for people who are homeless. He worked as a volunteer with Tarrant County Homeless Coalition and served on the board of DRC Solutions, an organization dedicated to housing for people on the streets. He spoke to church groups throughout the city about Room in the Inn, a program hosted by area churches that provides an overnight stay and a home-cooked dinner and breakfast for homeless guests at various times during the summer and winter months. Lou was well-known in our church for his work with us and for us.