Obituary of Philip and Bernice Seldin Frieder
Phil Frieder, a long-time resident of Denver, most recently of Brookdale Park Place, passed away in Rose Hospital last week at the age of 99. Born in New York City, educated at Queens College and New York University, he served in the Pacific Theatre for the U.S. Army Air Force from 1943 to 1946. While stationed at Lowry Field in Denver he met and married Bernice Seldin, a music teacher and rancher’s daughter from New Raymer, Colorado. Their marriage lasted 71 years until her death in 2015. Phil was born in 1921 and grew up during the Great Depression. He understood that citizens of a democracy have an obligation to take care of one another and spent his working life in fulfillment of that responsibility. As the daughter of Russian immigrants fleeing religious oppression, Bernice shared Phil’s commitment to social justice and caring for the vulnerable in society. The couple had different outward personal styles, with Bernice energetic and outgoing while Phil was more methodical and reserved. Regardless, it was their deep love and respect for each other and their shared ideals that shaped their life together. After settling in Denver, starting a family, and building a house Phil served as Deputy Manager of Health and Hospitals for the City of Denver from 1963 to 1971. During that time, he assembled funding to create the Neighborhood Health Centers, a network of outpatient facilities in Denver’s economically dis-advantaged areas, and was instrumental in the funding, design and construction of the new Denver General Hospital. Bernice loved children and served, among other positions, on the Colorado State Board of Education and the policy committee for the Colorado Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). There is an annual award in her name given to the outstanding Home Visitor of the Year. In 1971 Phil and Bernice left Denver for Washington, D.C., New York City, and Cleveland, Ohio. Phil continued to work for more equitable healthcare delivery for migrant workers and children at the Department of Health and Human Services, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, and Case Western University Hospital. Among other jobs, Bernice worked as Executive Director of the United Parents Association of New York City and continued her lifelong association with the National Council of Jewish Women. In 1971 she testified before the U.S. Senate in favor of the bill which established federal funding for public education. In 1983 the couple returned to Denver and re-established old friendships with Eugene and Barbara Sternberg and Marty and Patty Stites, among others. They made new friends at the Denver Symphony, Friends of Chamber Music, and Ports of Call Travel Club. They loved driving through New Mexico and Arizona and were regulars at Colorado Rockies spring training in Tucson, but sadly never made the team. Phil cared for Bernice until her death in 2015. During that time and despite his own advancing age, Phil devoted himself to making her last few years as comfortable and loving as all their past years together. Phil was a charming, gracious man with a ready smile and a dry sense of humor. He was gentle, yet determined and seemed consistently younger than his years. He enjoyed jazz and classical music, a good meal and once made, his friends were friends for the long haul. In recent years those friends included Jim Lucas, Ellen Seymour, her son Tom Van Ness and daughter-in-law Kerry. He was devoted to their two grandchildren, Kendra Smith and husband Erik Mudd of Milwaukee, Oregon, and Jesse Frieder of Boston, Massachusetts. Phil was pre-deceased by his wife, Bernice and his daughter, Alice. He is survived by his two grandchildren, his son, David and wife Maureen of Providence, RI, his niece, Susan Bergtraum and his nephew, Daniel Leviten, both of New York City.