Agnes Froehlich, 81, passed peacefully at PioneerCare in Fergus Falls on Sunday, May 14, 2023
“Der HERR ist meine Stärke und mein Schild; auf ihn hofft mein Herz, und mir ist geholfen. Nun ist mein Herz fröhlich, und ich will ihm danken mit meinem Lied.” Psalm 28:7
Agnes Elfreda (Goerke) Froehlich was born November 27, 1941, in Appleton, MN, the daughter of Arthur and Frieda (Lubitz) Goerke. She was baptized at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Bellingham, MN, and grew up working on the family farm nearby. As a child she spoke German with her parents and kept a pet pig named Julie Blonde. She loved horses, drawing and reading. The family got a television when she was 15; it received two stations – both NBC. She became a happy, thoughtful teenager who listened to Elvis, the Everly Brothers and Whoopee John. She saw Buddy Holly perform a week before he died.
Agnes attended grammar school in Bellingham, high school at the West-Central School of Agriculture in Morris and then Concordia College in Moorhead. There, she studied accounting and met her future husband, Gary Froehlich, after he saw her picture in the freshman directory and couldn’t believe that such a beautiful young woman could be named “Agnes Goerke.” Agnes and Gary married at St. Peter’s in 1961 and were quickly blessed with four sons: Michael (1962), Steven (1963), James (1967) and Jonathan (1975). The family made their home first in Fergus Falls before a move to Wall Lake outside town in 1972 where Agnes noted the spring ice thaw on her kitchen calendar for the next 51 years.
Agnes chose at an early age to undertake the most challenging career of all: mother to four giant, willful boys. A consistent and nurturing presence in their lives, she provided a safe, stable and orderly home, separating them from their mutual pummeling long enough to encourage reading, learning and thinking. She was a skilled gardener, an exemplary cook and an Olympic-level practitioner of the Home Arts, with an impeccable living space inside and out, despite the wave of chaos that often followed her sons. She was a gracious and accommodating host; no one ever left hungry or without an overflowing plate for the trip home. Family vacations were a favorite memory; each summer with her boys up mountains and along beaches and across glaciers throughout the US and Canada. She was also proud of her German heritage and made multiple trips to her father’s birthplace in what is now Poland.
Agnes was a committed member of Trinity Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls, devoted to her Christian faith and the Bible’s direction to "Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ." (Eph 4:32). She was a humble servant of the Lord, clearly focused on service to others. She was a talented artist who devoted thousands of hours to the Trinity Crafter’s group, generating thousands of dollars for mission work. Her life was spent in service to her family, church and the larger community, as a mother and homemaker, and later as a home health aide and volunteer.
Our mom didn’t deserve cancer, diabetes and heart disease; no one does. She was a stoic, stubborn Prussian who held her illnesses at bay for 13 years with quiet reserve, a dry sense of humor and a sharp mind kept keen by sudoku, “Perry Mason” episodes and online lessons to re-learn the German she had spoken as a child. Her faith never faltered and her commitment to service never waned, even as her body declined through hospitalizations, trips to the Mayo Clinic and countless procedures, tests and needles. She endured it all with grace and dignity. She never despaired and always said, “It’s God’s will.” She often noted that those 13 years, difficult as they were, enabled her to watch her grandchildren grow up just like her sons.
The true nature of charity is to serve without expectation of recognition or reward. Our mother served tirelessly out of a deep and abiding faith in Jesus alone. Her decades of labor were His words in action: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We are sad that our mother is not with us, but we are joyful knowing that she can rest now with the heavenly reward and comfort of her Savior, because the dishes are cleared, the boys are tucked in, and Gary can fold his own d*mn underwear. Mom knew after 81 years, though, that she had only turned the first page. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “But for them it was only the beginning of the real story…now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Agnes is survived by her husband of 61 years, Gary Froehlich; her children Michael, James (Heather) and Jonathan (Sara), plus three grandchildren she loved dearly and of whom she was immensely proud, Clarice Eleanor, Max Henry and Hugo Paul; brother Werner Goerke of Watertown, SD; sister-in-law Bonnie Pahlen of Superior, WI; cousin Irene Weeding of Appleton, MN; nieces and nephews; neighbors, church and community friends, and relatives still in Germany.
She is preceded in death by her parents; son, Steven (2020); sister-in-law Orla Goerke, and brother-in-law Michael Pahlen. Flowers welcome; memorials preferred to Trinity Lutheran Church Crafters or Lake Region Healthcare Cancer Care & Research Center.
Visitation: Sunday, May 21, 2023, from 3-5 P.M., at the Glende-Nilson Funeral Home in Fergus Falls and continuing one hour prior to the service at the church.
Funeral Service: 1:00 P.M., Monday, May 22, 2023, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Fergus Falls.
Clergy: Rev. Christopher Lieske
Interment: Trinity-Faith Cemetery, Fergus Falls, MN
Funeral arrangements are with the Glende-Nilson Funeral Home, Fergus Falls, MN.
Sunday, May 21, 2023
3:00 - 5:00pm (Central time)
Glende-Nilson Funeral Home & Cremation Services-Fergus Falls