Richard C. Friess 

VALATIE: Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Richard C. Friess, USA, 67, a pioneer in the U.S. Army's homeland defense mission and a top leader of the New York National Guard in the 1980s and 90s, passed away March 16, 2003. Gen. Friess, former chief of staff of the Army National Guard's 42nd Infantry (Rainbow) Division, a headquarters staff position once held during World War I by Gen. Douglas MacArthur, also served as assistant division commander of the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division and deputy chief of staff of New York Army National Guard Headquarters at Albany International Airport, Latham, N.Y.

In the 1960s and 70s, he rose to the rank of battery commander and operations officer in the U.S. Army's air defense artillery command, whose Cold War mission, in part, was defense of the continental United States from hostile air attack.

Born in Ridgewood, Queens, November 8, 1935, he was the son of Desidarius and Marie (Bellear) Friess. A graduate of Grover Cleveland High School, he was awarded a bachelor of science degree in political science from the State University of New York, New Paltz. Gen. Friess was commissioned 2nd lieutenant in the Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve after graduation in 1961 from Empire State Military Academy, Camp Smith, N.Y. From 1962 to 1972, Gen. Friess served in a variety of Army National Guard air and missile defense commands and positions throughout New York State incurring increasing responsibility. These included platoon leader and commander of Battery C and commander of Battery A, 1st Missile Battalion, 244th Artillery and logistics and operations officer for the 244th Artillery's 1st Missile Battalion.

Before his appointment in 1984 as 42nd Rainbow Division chief of staff, Gen. Friess served in a variety of maintenance supervisory positions culminating with his appointment as state director of maintenance for the New York Army National Guard headquarters in 1978. From 1984 until November 1986, Gen. Friess served as the 42nd Division's chief of staff at its former West 34th Street headquarters in Manhattan. At the time, the Rainbow Division was the largest Army unit within the New York National Guard and was in the early transitional stages of becoming a multi-state Army Division. From 1986 until his military retirement in August 1993, Gen. Friess served as one of the key, senior staff and command officers in the Office of the Adjutant General completing tours as deputy chief of staff at Headquarters, Army National Guard, Latham, 1986-88 and assistant division commander, 10th Mountain Division (Ll) and commander, 27th Infantry (roundout) Brigade, 10th Mountain Division, 1988-93.

In 1989, Gen. Friess retired from full time federal military service and became the emergency equipment stockpile manager at the New York State Emergency Management Office, a position he held until 1996. Over the course of his lengthy and distinguished military career, Gen. Friess was recipient of numerous federal and state medals and awards. The federal medals include the National Defense Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Service Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Components Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal, many with multiple citations. State awards include numerous medals for aid to civilian authorities, meritorious service, humane service, long and faithful service and the military support to the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympics medal.

His greatest life passions were caring for his children and grandchildren and playing endless rounds of golf at Winding Brook Country Club. He was a member of BPOE 2530, Kinderhook and was a past treasurer. He served in several positions in the Militia Association, State of New York, culminating his service as the association's president. Always one for dining at noon, he was also a member of the Bourbon and Chowder Society of Kinderhook.

He is survived by his beloved wife of 47 years, Marietta (Clarkson) Friess of Valatie. Other survivors include his sons, Richard C. Friess, his wife Nancy and grandsons, Richard C. III and Thomas of Waterford, Michael Friess, his wife Sara and granddaughter, Sarah of Schodack; daughters, Mary Hart, her husband Joseph and grandsons, Michael and Kyle of East Greenbush and Jane Sherwood, her husband Lee of Valatie. He is also survived by brothers, Thomas J. and wife Joann of Burnt Hills and Arthur and wife Linda of Seaford. He was predeceased by brothers, Clifford and William Friess. Tom, his beloved cat and companion also will miss him dearly.

A funeral Mass will be held on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 at 11:00 a.m. at St. John the Baptist Church, 1025 Kinderhook Street (Rt. 9), Valatie, N.Y. There will be no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Community Hospice of Columbia/Greene, 47 Liberty Street, Catskill, NY 12414.  

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I worked with Dick Friess  for several years. We had a great time going out for lunch, he loved to hunt down plants along Wolf Road....  He gave me a hasta plant from his yard.  I planted it around my oak tree and it grew into numerous hasta plants which want to take over our property.

I recently retired and as I was cleaning out my desk I found a post-it note from Dick which I saved over these many years.  It is a very simple but powerful message from one worker to another


My condolences to his family; I knew how much he valued his family.

Robert Simpson
Knox, NY

created March 17, 2003 by rjs