Norman L. FribergApril 2, 1929 ~ February 18, 2017 (age 87)
Norman L. Friberg, Sr. died peacefully on February 18, 2017 trusting in his faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. “Swede” Friberg was born on April 2, 1929 and grew up in Squantum. Swedish was often heard in the home and his paternal grandfather was a well-known preacher in Swedish churches around Boston. The first big storm in his life was contracting polio at 18 months. For many years he had braces and numerous surgeries to help him walk. Physical therapy was a new science then and, as his mother learned more about it, she spent hours each day exercising his legs on the kitchen table. With such good care he went on to play baseball, flag football, bike through Europe and climb mountains.
You might think he was born with a pen in one hand and a tiller in the other; the pen because of his insatiable love of drawing, and the tiller because of his great love of the sea and sailing. From about 4 years of age he began sailing with his dad in their 14 ft., wooden-hulled sailboat called Chum. “He placed my chubby fingers on the tiller and put his strong, steady hand over mine and began to show me how to steer and sail,” Norman later explained. His love of racing, sailing and exploring the islands and coves of the New England coast deepened into a plan to become a “hot-shot” cartoonist and out-Disney Walt! With the money earned he would buy a two-mastered schooner and sail to Sweden and around the world for a lifetime of adventure. But God gradually turned him on a new course.
As a senior in high school he came to realize that it wasn’t enough to grow up in a Christian home, but that he needed to make his own personal decision to accept Christ as his Savior and Lord – to be cleansed, forgiven and receive eternal life. He began to see how selfish and self-centered his life was and to take seriously Jesus’ teachings to serve God and others. This led him to enroll at Providence Bible Institute where he learned much about the Bible and God’s love for the whole world. It was at that time that God pressed on his heart the country of Afghanistan and it became his goal to find ways to serve the Afghan people. Graduating in 1949, he went on to Boston University to get a B.A. degree in History and Social Studies in 1954. After two years teaching experience in Pepperell, MA, in June, 1956 he married Jacquelyn Oliver from N. Quincy, who shared his love for the Lord and a desire to serve.
Norman and Jacque moved to Ann Arbor where Norman completed a course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at the University of Michigan. He arrived in Kabul, Afghanistan three months later and began training Afghan teachers with the Columbia University Program under USAID. They moved to Kandahar in 1960, where Norman directed the EFL program for the new Aeronautical Training Center. There 300 Afghan boys, fresh from the provinces with not a word of English, learned to speak English (with a little Boston accent) and became air traffic controllers, communication experts and technicians. During their 14 years in Afghanistan 5 children were born and enjoyed many adventures in the mountains and deserts around them.
In their last 5 years there, Norman trained Afghans to run an adult literacy program using the materials of Dr. Frank Laubach. The Fribergs also pastored a small, international church in Kandahar and started a program for visiting ophthalmologists to treat the many serious eye diseases Afghans suffered.
In subsequent years Norman also taught in Iran, Turkey and Kyrgyzstan and received an MRE degree in 1981 from Gordon Conwell Seminary. He was beloved by his students and colleagues for his joyful spirit, kindness and encouraging words. He always made time to listen to their concerns or family problems. Despite getting malaria and other illnesses, and physical disabilities, he found great joy in bringing help and hope to others. He leaves behind his wife of 60 years, Jacquelyn, his 5 children, 18 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.