Obituary of Lt. Col. John David Friske, (USMC) Ret.
Lt. Col. John David “Dave” Friske, USMC (Ret), 88, of The Villages, Florida passed away peacefully on January 4, 2024 while under the loving care of Community Hospice Bailey Family Center for Caring in St. Augustine, Florida.
Prior to his short stay at the Bailey Family Center, Dave was a much-loved resident of the Clyde E. Lassen State Veterans Nursing Home. True to nature, Dave befriended fellow residents, staff and administration. He fondly referred to his “new digs” as “country club living”.
Born March 29, 1935 in Saginaw, Michigan, Dave attended parochial grade school in Saginaw; graduated from high school in Munich, Germany; and attended the University of Notre Dame on an NROTC scholarship. He earned a B.S. degree and graduated with honors, in 1956. Dave also graduated as a member of the Monogram Club, having earned his varsity letter in Fencing. Upon graduation he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. He attended Basic School and went on to flight training in Pensacola, Florida where he received his “wings” in July 1958 and was designated a Naval Aviator and a qualified helicopter pilot. It was during his assignment in Pensacola, that Dave met and married Martha Roberta (Rob) Mulkey.
During the course of his twenty-year career in the Marine Corps, Dave was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star Medal with combat “v”, thirteen Air Medals, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. He was authorized the Combat Action Navy Unit Commendation and a Meritorious Unit Commendation, the ribbons for which were authorized as personal decorations. While on active duty, Dave also earned an MBA degree in Financial Management from the George Washington University. Dave had the distinction of having been the Commanding Officer of a surface to air missile battalion and a direct air support squadron. He retired in 1976 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Dave always said he belonged to the two best fraternities; the University of Notre Dame (Go Irish) and the United States Marine Corps (Oorah). In true Renaissance Man fashion, Dave took part in a variety of activities including the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Brownies, Y Indian Guides, Y Indian Maidens, sports coaching, team dad, band parent duties, Habitat for Humanity, Home Owners Associations, and teaching at Arizona Western College, the University of Maryland, and National University.
Lovingly referred to as “Papa Bear” by family and friends, Dave endeared himself to all who knew him. His heart was as big as his shoulders were broad. He gave all he had to everything he did and everyone he knew. If you were fortunate enough to see his sparkling eyes and sweet grin on any given day, you knew it was going to be a good one.
Dave is survived by his wife of 66 years, Roberta: children, Mary McLean (husband Tim); Millie Stokes (husband John); and John Friske, Jr. (wife Aura); his brother, Joseph Friske of Trudering, Germany; and three grandchildren, Charles McLean, and Jake and Callie Friske. He loved his country, church, and family.
Dave was preceded in death by his father, Joseph P. Friske; his mother, Mary Vertacnik Friske; son, James David Friske and son, Joseph Patrick Friske.
A graveside service with military honors will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Geneva, Alabama in the spring of 2024. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that you consider the following organizations for any donations you might choose to make:
The Rockne Foundation c/o University of Notre Dame Development Office: 3rd Floor 1251 N. Eddy St. South Bend, Indiana 46617
Marine Corps Heritage Foundation:18900 Jefferson Davis Hwy. Triangle, VA 22172
Texas Sealife Center 14220 S. Padre Island Dr. Corpus Christi, Tx. 78418 www.texassealifecenter.org
The Texas Sealife Center is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation & release of coastal & aquatic wildlife.