Wednesday was truly one of the saddest days of my life — mourning the loss of fellow worker and dear friend Joan Friederich. Her passing has pained thousands who knew her and like myself and my family, loved her dearly.
“Miss Joan,” as referred to and address by the players, was a sincere friend to all. Having lived at Meadowlark for the past several years, she appeared well and upbeat virtually each week when I would go to see her. This past Wednesday when I went to see her, she appeared weaker and did not speak nor stay actively engaged as she always had. But I did not expect her passing so suddenly.
Joan was first a loving mother of three wonderful children who were always there for her throughout her life.
When I arrived at KSU, Joan was employed with the university. After meeting her and hearing of her passionate desire to be involved with the football program, I retained her to serve as my administrative assistant, which she did remarkably well for three decades. Joan loved her position and loved the players, coaches and staff who surrounded her. She epitomized “come early and stay late” and “be gracious to all.”
There is so much to share about Joan that it would fill this entire newspaper. There is no right place to start and so much of her amazing career will get left out.
Joan treated all of our players as her own children and she was viewed by them as their second mother. She kept a full candy jar on her desk for players to stop by and have a piece of candy. In doing so she would visit with them about their family, schoolwork, friends, girlfriends, teammates, life off of the field and numerous other topics. The players sensed how genuine and sincere she was and felt comfortable sharing most any aspect of their lives with her.
My children, when they were very young grade schoolers, would come to the office after school to play around the facility and Joan would watch after them. She loved it as much as they did. They would always hide from me in her closet when I’d try to check up on them. She treated them like a part of her family. She was their first stop when they came to the office.
Joan had a mirror installed outside her office that allowed her to see if I was busy or not when someone was there to see me. Joan would also think up “errands” for our children at the office to keep them busy. They loved doing things for her.
She was so close to the players and staff (in a very professional way) that I invited her to all the functions we held for our players (picnics, etc.). She loved being involved.
People outside the program also loved visiting with Joan and would stop by the office and enjoy long conversations with her. Dear friends of mine from out of town would call to visit with me and would have lengthy conversations with her first.
“Miss Joan” had no enemies and befriended nearly all the people she met. She was very protective of me and did so in a gracious manner. Sharon involved her with the coaches’ wives functions, which was mutually enjoyable.
I always tried to get Joan to sit in our suite with Sharon, but she loved sitting outside in the crowd.
Many people enjoyed her so much that they would send her flowers, candy, etc. after meeting her at the office. Over time, we developed so many methods of recognizing others who needed to be active in or recognized by the program that her role in interacting with them became enormous. However, she loved it and never complained and helped build the “family” environment.
Since her retirement and move into Meadowlark Hills, I have gone to visit with her each week and was amazed at how much she retained about our careers together. Far more than I did.
She has been greatly missed from her role in the football program. Everyone I visit with will ask me about Joan and I’m asked daily to share someone’s best wishes with her.
I feel certain that as you read this, she is beside our Lord taking notes and saving his requests as she adjusts her wings.
The entire Snyder family loves and misses you, Joan, as does everyone you’ve ever met.
Bill Snyder, the winningest coach in K-State football history, led the team from 1989 to 2005 and 2009 to 2018.