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C. Robin Frieden Scholarship: Extending a Life of Giving
A new scholarship at Western Illinois University honors a lifetime legacy of giving and of service to others. C. Robin Frieden, a 1974 WIU accountancy graduate, was, in the words of her husband, John, “a beautiful lady, a strong woman, who lived life in the way that I believe we are all expected to live.”
Born and raised on a farm in lower Rock Island County, Illinois, Robin was the first granddaughter of Ferne Fuhr, a teacher and WIU alum. She was a good student, an athlete, and a friend to all she encountered. During her academic career at Rockridge, her grandmother served on the school board; and her entire family was active in support of the school and its activities.
Having met John in high school, the pair attended WIU, making many friends and planning their future together. True to form, Robin was involved in campus activities and positively influenced her friends and colleagues (many of whom remain friends today). Marrying in June following graduation, the Frieden’s settled in an apartment in Decatur, Illinois. John traveled central Illinois as a representative for DuPont Chemical Company and Robin took a position with Horace Mann Insurance. A few short years into marriage, the children began to arrive. Aundrea was the first, followed by Michelle, identical twins Jonathan and Robert, Lizzy, Dan, and later Isaac. All during these busy and rewarding years, Robin and John moved frequently with John’s work, but “were always deeply involved in a church.” According to John, Robin was totally committed to God and her family, along with being his biggest professional supporter. During Andi’s (Aundrea) eighth grade year, the family relocated back to Illinois for Andi to start high school “back home,” for the express purpose of “linking our kids to the great school system that had provided us with the life skills to achieve success and happiness in our own lives.”
Back in Western Illinois, Robin became very active in the school system and successfully implemented a Christian Kids Camp on the family’s rural property. Hundreds of Rockridge kids benefited by this experience in the five years she ran the camp. After eight years, the family moved on once again to Georgia.
Nearly three years ago, Robin’s health began to fail. Although she had been diagnosed with a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy as a teen, she never allowed the disease to stop her from living a very full life. According to Andi, “Mom had every reason to ask others for help, but instead, she spent almost every minute of every day figuring out how she could best serve others. She supported us in every endeavor. And when, later in life she could do less of this on her own, she spent long hours every day just praying for us (and countless others) so that God would pick up where she had left off.”
To be eligible for the C. Robin Frieden Scholarship, a student must be a graduate of Rockridge High school; demonstrate leadership in school, church or community; and must possess a desire to help others. Says John: “She (and I) love Rockridge and WIU. They gave us an anchor, they gave us opportunity, and they are a part of the fabric of our lives. We have experienced the school systems and university systems all across this great country. There are no better places than Rockridge and WIU. I hope that many kids will benefit in some way from the honor we are trying to show to C. Robin Frieden with this memorial.”
Ferne Fuhr, husband John Frieden, and C. Robin Frieden are all
graduates of Western, as are C. Robin’s three sisters: Terri Fuhr, Penny
Blaser, and Susan Scholl. Two of Robin’s daughters - Andi and Michelle,
are also graduates of WIU. To date, the family has contributed $20,000
to the C. Robin Frieden Scholarship.