December 5, 2012
Bernard T. Friel 1933 – 2012
Bernie Friel of Grand Lake and Lakewood died peacefully Nov. 27, surrounded by his loving wife and family.
The youngest of seven children, Bernie was born to Irish immigrant parents; Michael and Maria Friel in the coal mining community of Del Carbon on March 6, 1933. Upon graduation in 1951 from St Mary’s High School in Walsenberg, Bernie enlisted in the U.S. Army and proudly served his country in Japan and Korea and was honorably discharged in 1953.
Bernie attended Colorado University in Boulder and was a lifelong Buffs fan and enjoyed the CU, CSU rivalry and would often, with a big grin, refer to the Colorado State University Rams as “the angry sheep.”
In the summer of 1956, Bernie began working at the Grand Lake Lodge where he made many lifelong friends and where in 1958 he met Diana Wagner of Fort Collins, his love for nearly 53 years.
After their marriage on Dec. 5, 1959, Bernie and Diana eventually made their home in Lakewood and raised three children together. In 1968 they built a little cabin just outside of Grand Lake, which remains a cherished gathering place for friends and family. Bernie eventually moved to Grand Lake permanently in the mid 1990s and in 1999 Diana became the proprietor of Polly’s Sweet Shop in Grand Lake. While Bernie enjoyed working alongside Diana, serving up ice cream, homemade fudge, and other goodies at Polly’s, the long hours would often leave them exhausted at the end of the day and Bernie began to refer to Polly’s Sweet Shop as “Polly’s Sweat Shop.”
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Bernie’s wonderful sense of humor and easy going presence will be greatly missed. He loved being in the mountains and above all was devoted to his family. He enjoyed the outdoors, exploring many areas of Rocky Mountain National Park, climbing 14 of Colorado’s 14’ers, backpacked the Grand Canyon, and once lead his family on a day hike from Estes Park to Grand Lake. He loved sports and was a true fan of both the Denver Broncos and Colorado University Buffalos.
Bernie is survived by his wife Diana Friel (Lakewood); sisters, Frances Marie Friel (Pueblo) and Clara Mae Stack (Waukesha, WI); children, Cynthia McElroy (Kirkland, WA), Michael Friel (Gypsum), and Brian Friel (Denver); three grandchildren which he absolutely adored, Thomas and Joe McElroy and Madelyn Friel, as well as many nieces and nephews.
A Catholic Funeral Mass was held at St. Jude Catholic Church in Lakewood, with burial at Fort Logan National Cemetery on Dec. 5, 2012.