Recently, we received news Bob Friedman had died in Florida at age 90. He had many friends in Tiffin, not the least of whom were the many students and graduates of Calvert High School.
I got to know Bob and his good wife, Genie, when I served on the Calvert school board and we started the Calvert Hall of Fame to celebrate those to whom Calvert owed so much. In considering a choice for the initial member of the Hall of Fame, Bob Friedman quickly came to mind.
He had studied music at the convent of the Ursuline Sisters that was home to the nuns/teachers of Calvert High School. And when Art Graham, Jim Streacker and others started the Calvert Foundation, Bob and Genie Friedman donated $100,000, which was almost one third of the initial fund.
Bob was president and chief executive officer of National Machinery Co. of Tiffin and he believed strongly in the company's profit-sharing plan so as to allow the many workers at the company to share in its success and to retire with dignity. He also started the National Machinery Citizenship Awards for students of Seneca County.
I first met Bob, Genie and their family when we asked him to speak at our Citizenship Awards night at Calvert High School and to be inducted as the first member of the Calvert Hall of Fame. You can tell a lot about a man by his family, all of whom came to Tiffin to hear him speak and to watch as he received his Hall of Fame award. Their pride in him and their love for him was so evident.
Over the years, Bob and Genie Friedman were blessed with success and wealth. But through their generous philanthropy, they never stopped giving back to numerous charities - notably here in Tiffin. Bob gave land and other gifts to Tiffin University to establish Friedman Village, but he never forgot Calvert High School.
Six months after we commenced the Calvert Hall of Fame, the Calvert board started the annual Calvert auction. I wrote to Bob and Genie to inquire if they would consider donating something for the first auction. They sent us $5,000. That was in 1985, and for each year after that, they would send me a check for the Calvert auction, at least $5,000 and sometimes more.
When Calvert began its campaign to increase the Calvert Foundation by an additional $1 million, I wrote Bob and Genie and told them no one would bother them about making a donation and thanked them for their great kindnesses to Calvert in the past. Bob called me from New York and asked whether I thought Calvert would be able to continue its mission of Christian education. I told him of the many parents, teachers and students to whom Calvert meant so much and said I thought the school would survive. He said, "In that case, we will send you $250,000," and they did.
In the Bible, Jesus said, "It is harder for a rich man to get to heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle."
At 7 p.m. May 9, a Mass will be said at St. Joseph Catholic Church for the repose of the soul of Robert Friedman. We hope many will attend to wish bon voyage to Bob as he passes through the "eye of the needle."
Very truly yours,
Michael B. Lange,