Robert C. Friday


Robert Carl Friday passed away surrounded by his family on Monday, May 24, at Diamond Willow Assisted Living in Duluth. He was 78 years old.

Robert, known as Bob to friends and family, Coach Friday to his athletes, and Mr. Friday to his students, was born in Philadelphia to Cecil and Ruth Friday (Erickson) on June 10, 1942. He grew up in the Bywood neighborhood of Upper Darby, just west of the city of his birth. He spent his childhood on the playgrounds and athletic fields of the area, developing a love of sports that continued throughout his life.

Patient, intelligent, and principled, these characteristics served him well in his three decades as a teacher of civics, history, and social studies, and a coach, mostly at B. Reed Henderson High School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. There, he coached cross country, ice hockey (including his eldest sons Bobby, Bret, and Josh), and track and field.

His track teams won two Pennsylvania state championships, and, in 1991, helped him achieve an athletic dream. Henderson claimed the 4x400-meter Championship of America Relay at the Penn Relays in a photo finish, an event Robert, as a child, often playacted competing in and winning.

He retired from coaching in the early 90s and from teaching in 1997 to spend more time as his family continued to grow with the addition of two more sons, Taylor and Dillon. They moved to Lakewood Township in 1999, joining Josh, who attended St. Scholastica.

He enjoyed the solitude of Duluth and became a fixture at his sons’ soccer and baseball games (as a coach) and hockey games as a fan and father. As they graduated and moved outside the city, he turned his attention to his grandchildren, all of whom carried the family’s athletic legacy a little further.

Having lost both parents and his younger brother early in life, he loved nothing more than the familial company he enjoyed in his twilight years after Bobby and Bret established their families nearby.

In his last days, Fridays frequented Robert’s room at Diamond Willow to converse and hear stories on his favorite subjects, from the American Civil War to the 1950 Philadelphia Phillies to his stint as the general manager of a minor league football team, as he indulged on ice cream, sherbet, and TastyKake Butterscotch Krimpets, a Philadelphia delight. He shared memories of vacations to Long Beach Island, New Jersey, in his youth and Port Aransas, Texas, from later in life. He had an understated sense of humor and a gift for saying the right thing at the right time. He was a proud Swedish-American, graduate of Drexel University, native of Upper Darby, and husband to his wife, Gayle, and father to five sons.

He offered advice that was both profound and easily applied. All who knew him well will miss his wisdom and comforting presence.

Robert was preceded in death by his parents Cecil and Ruth, stepmother Laura, and brother Richard. He is survived by his wife Gayle; sons Robert (Mona), Bret (Louise), Joshua (Bridget), Taylor, and Dillon; and grandchildren Morgan, Nolan, Connor, Jane, Bailey, Maren, Brendan, Darby, and Hadley.

The Friday family would like to thank the staffs of Diamond Willow, Essential Health St. Mary’s Hospice Care, and Affordable Cremation for all their care and support during this difficult time.

A private ceremony will be held on what would’ve been his 79th birthday, June 10.

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