Family gathers in Winnipeg to honour humble centenarian

Family gathers in Winnipeg to honour humble centenarian

The morning of his 100th birthday party, Lloyd Friedman wasn't in the mood for a big bash.

This didn't surprise his son, Andy Friedman. The milestone matters more to his family, who have descended on Winnipeg from across North America and beyond to celebrate.

"Oh you know, he doesn't want a fuss. All of his life he's been a giver, he's been a carer," said Andy, who flew in from Wales to celebrate the centenarian at the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Learning Centre in Winnipeg on Wednesday.

"Maybe it would mean more to him if it was somebody else's 100th birthday rather than his."

A Second World War veteran honoured with the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism, Friedman's entire life has been in service of others.

Humble servant

As a pilot in the war, his squadron was legendary at marking targets on behalf of the bomber crews. Their missions were dangerous.

"His plane was obviously damaged, but he always managed to fly it back," Andy said. "Most responsible person I know."

After the war, his father taught students for decades in Winnipeg.

In retirement, he delivered warm lunches to seniors 20 years his junior, and ensured other seniors had a ride into the Rady Jewish Community Centre for wellness activities.

He did this until he was 95, when he gave up his driver's licence.

His friend, Dr. Albert Rosenberg, recalls stumbling upon Friedman at the grocery store with a packed shopping cart.

He was carrying four shopping lists for people who couldn't pick up groceries themselves

"He stands out as a very giving person," Andy said of his father, who has two children, five grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.

If one person was going to make it to a century, it was his father, Andy says. He eats well and exercises: He was a member of the Reh-Fit Centre until he was 99.

"He was never more happy than with a huge plate of raw vegetables in front of him," Andy said.

Tucked him in

Andy's brother-in-law, Harvey Pollock, calls Lloyd his hero.

The first time they met, Pollock was staying at a hotel in Regina. He remembers Friedman coming up in the morning and tucking him in with the blanket that had slipped off his bed. 

"I loved you from that minute," Pollock told Friedman at the party. 

There isn't an arrogant or prideful bone in Lloyd's body, says his daughter Fran Silver, who arrived from Las Vegas for the party.

"He has what everybody should have, being a good person." And in his case, "a good Jew," too.

He likes to say that life was beautiful, said Friedman's health-care aid Dorothy Hanysz.

"The other thing that Mr. Friedman [and I] do everyday is we sing, 'You Are My Sunshine.'" 

Friedman was short on words Wednesday, but he sang that song with a warm smile across his face.