Obituary: Stuart Friebert MA’53, PhD’58

Stuart Friebert died peacefully in his sleep at Hospice of the Western Reserve, Cleveland, in the early morning of Tuesday, June 23rd, due to the aftereffects of a fall.

He was born in Milwaukee and educated at the University of Wisconsin. After spending an undergraduate year in Germany as one of its first exchange students after World War II, he completed a Ph.D. in German Language and Literature and taught German at Mt. Holyoke, Harvard and finally, Oberlin College. Subsequently, his passion for writing and teaching poetry led to his establishing the Creative Writing Program at Oberlin and cofounding Field Magazine, the Field Translation Series, and Oberlin College Press.

With an avidity that only increased as he aged, Stuart wrote or translated every day, publishing in all 15 books of poems, 16 volumes of translations and four of prose. Even after retirement, he was a mentor to many, who thank him for his careful criticism and the exuberant encouragement that fostered not only their development as writers and readers but also their growth of spirit. With his infectious curiosity, he delighted in the natural world; with his spontaneity and wacky humor, he delighted all who knew him. A fiercely devoted father, soul mate and friend, he was unfailingly generous and loving.

He is mourned by his wife, Diane Vreuls, ’56; his children, Sarah (Rita) and Stephen (Naomi); his adored grandchild, Kazu; his brother, Steve (Jane); his sister, Phyllis Levy (Mort); his brother-in-law, Don Vreuls (Peggy, deceased); his cousins, nieces, nephews and countless friends, some lifelong, others only briefly-met, yet each taken deeply into his heart.

A teacher to the end, Stuart donated his body to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. We will hold a gathering to honor Stuart at a later date. Meanwhile, we remember, and are thankful.