Mahlen (Mel) Carl Friske 86, passed away on August 15, 2020 at Aspen Acres Assisted Living. He was born January 17, 1934 in Kendall, Wisconsin to Carl and Emma Friske. He graduated from Kendall High School in 1952 and enrolled at Wisconsin State College, Platteville. In January, 1954, he entered the United State Air Force. He served as an instructor and on security intelligence assignments with the Far East Command in Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. He received the National Defense Service Medal and an honorable discharge. He returned to college at Platteville and graduated in 1960 with a bachelor’s degree in education.
On June 12, 1960, he married Jean Sacker in Monroe, Wisconsin, his wife of 60 years. The couple moved to Hayward and purchased their property on the Namekagon River. Mel taught at Hayward Junior High School. He received a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Wisconsin, Superior. In 1962, the couple moved to Oconto Falls, Wisconsin, where Mel was employed as the Director of Guidance at the high school. Employment opportunities led them to relocate to other areas in Wisconsin and each summer they returned to their place in Hayward. Mel was Supervisor of Students at the Fond du Lac Vocational Technical College, Director of Guidance at Evansville High School, and Director of Admissions at the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. Mel started his 22 year career as a guidance counselor in the Stillwater, Minnesota School District, commuting from the family’s home in River Falls. It was there that the couple raised their three daughters, Lynda, Michele and Susan. In 1994, Mel retired and the couple once again made Hayward their home.
Mel enjoyed sports and the outdoors. Fishing and hunting were lifetime hobbies he pursued. Athletics were one of his passions. He played football, basketball and baseball in high school. He continued playing baseball though his Air Force service in the Far East, in college with the Platteville Pioneers, and in Hayward with the Vortanz Loggers. He cheered on his favorite Wisconsin teams: the Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin Badgers.
Mel was honored for his 45 years of service to the Lumberjack World Championships, working alongside his longtime friend, Rod Lundberg. He served in the Wisconsin National Guard, and was a member of the Stillwater and Hayward Lions Club, Hayward Golf Club and First Lutheran Church.
During his retirement years, Mel and Jean traveled throughout the United Stated and attended many Road Scholar programs. They enjoyed meeting people and cruising to numerous ports of the world. Mel accomplished his life’s dream to travel to every continent. As Mel’s health declined, they enjoyed the serenity of watching wildlife and the change of seasons on the Namekagon River.
Mel is proceeded in death by his parents and brother, Gaylord. He is survived by his wife, Jean, three daughters: Lynda (Fred) Stelter of Plymouth, MN, Michele (Steve) Schutta of Hampshire, IL, and Susan (Jack) Pfaff of Naples, FL, and five grandchildren: John (Emma) Connell, Sam and Sarah Stelter, and Jacob and Zachary Schutta.
A committal service with military honors will be held at 12:00 Noon on Friday, August 21, 2020 at the Northern Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Spooner, WI. Pastor Joel Bacon will officiate.
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