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HomeMemories of Harriet

Harriet Friedlander
May 20, 1931 - November 24, 2020
Co-founder of WiseUp: Aging with Attitude

Harriet Friedlander, a co-founder of our organization along with Libby Hill, passed away on November 24 at the age of 89. Harriet left a last legacy for those of us on the North Shore. Here are excerpts from several of the messages we received paying tribute to Harriet. If you would like to share your stories about Harriet, please feel free to send them to Paula Cleave at and/or Libby Hill at

Harriet's Obituary can be found here.
Memories of Harriet Friedlander
Wise-Up is the direct offspring of Harriet Friedlander. She was one who didn't just think of a good idea, or just idly read about it. If she thought the idea was a good one, she made it happen.  

She asked me if I would help her form an organization modeled on Beacon Hill Village. The idea was intriguing - Many of us, including me, had read the New York Times article on Beacon Hill Village and had filed it away, but not Harriet - she decided to act. As a result, after a year of research, we formed a small group, held what turned out to be an enormous public meeting at the library during which Harriet stated the idealistic goals of aging-in-place. From that meeting attendees, we recruited founders. We were off and running.   

There is no overstating Harriet's responsibility for the organization - it wouldn't exist without her insistence that this would be good for Evanston.  
Libby Hill
In February 2006 I read an article in the New York Times entitled “Aging at Home: For a Lucky Few, a Wish Come True.” It was the story of Beacon Hill Village. I thought to myself Wow- This would be great for Evanston. So I clipped the article and filed it away. Here’s how Harriet reacted, as she read that same article: Wow- This would be great for Evanston….but instead of putting the article aside, Harriet then began to make this concept a reality.

Besides obviously being an organized let’s-do-it kind of person, Harriet was intelligent, scholarly, warm, outgoing, funny and caring.
Helene Rosenberg
Evanston is poorer without Harriet Friedlander, and many of us owe her thanks for her amazing vision and recognition of many of our needs. I am particularly grateful for her push to organize the Farmers' Market, many years ago, as well as her hand in developing North Shore Village -- Now WiseUp; Aging with Attitude -- a group that includes local seniors and provides them needed assistance and friendship.

Rest in Peace, Harriet. You are missed but will be long remembered.
Marilyn Williams
Harriet was a powerhouse of ideas and energy...we owe her the Farmers
Market...I have missed her greatly and will continue to do so.  
Steffi Masur
One day a neighbor sent me an email announcing a meeting at the Evanston library. Someone was wanting to talk about developing a community program for support of seniors.  Well that was me at 72, so I attended. That is where I first met Harriet Friedlander, a sweet natured, beautiful, gentle soul who talked about an article in the NY Times …Together, she and Libby  met with various community leaders regarding senior issues and services, recruited volunteers, generated community conversations at coffees to build the local concept, built a Board of Directors, got incorporated, achieved the support of local retirement communities, and most important, the connection with the Mather organization that has been so sustaining and is in its 11th year. The benefits of support from volunteers, from staff, and new special friendships formed during these complex years are gifts I never had planned or thought of before Harriet.  
Barbara Dershin

Prior to joining NSV as executive director, I had known of Harriet Friedlander, but had not met her.  To state it briefly, Harriet got stuff done. From the Farmers Market to the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Northwestern, to WiseUp, she left her mark on nascent ventures that became part of the fabric of our community.
Helen C. Gagel