Mrs. Irene LaFrenz

 Student memories of Irene LaFrenz as she celebrates her 99th birthday

Check out the Liberty Tribune Article

I Have a Memory


I remember that Mrs. LaFrenz flunked me my junior year in Geometry, it was the only class that I ever flunked and I repeated it my senior year. When I attended that class my senior year she welcomed me back for the repeat in my second year.

  I think she was very proud of me for having the guts to return and take that class over the second time. Yes she passed me the second time around, but only because my grades were much improved.
  She and Mr. Moore are the two teachers that had the biggest impact on me and that I have always respected the most, because they always made me feel that they really cared about the students.

 Allen "Tony" Murfin  LHS Class of 56'

Don't feel badly Tony, Mrs La Frenz thought that my second semester Algebra was a total failure and wanted me to repeat the whole year again. The second time around I was smart the first semester and hung on the second semester for a passing grade. Thanks again for that F, for when I went to college, the University's Algebra requirements were a snap. She also made me aware that I was not a math major. Mr. Kenneth Moore's leadership in Citizenship and World History led to me the field of social science teaching, local, state, and federal Government and ended as an aerispace consultant Thanks also for having Al Conway to keep me in line.

Thanks, Mrs. La Franz.

Larry Eiker '56



Mrs. LaFrenz was one of the best teachers I have ever had.  The way she had of simplifying "word problems" by using boxes for setting them up was amazing.  The mathematical background and techniques she taught me gave me a very solid footing for continuing my education in mathematics and chemistry.  I also enjoyed having Vern teach me math at William Jewell College.  I remember he made me do all of the problems in my head.  Thom Weddle and I would see who could come up with the answer first.  It was a real "kick" to have these two excellent teachers. 

Howard Dunn  Class of '56

When I came from Pleasant Valley to Liberty High School in 1953, my first class of the day was General Math with Mrs. LaFrenz as my teacher. In her class, I discovered that it was going to require a lot of hard work on my part just to get a passing grade. I don't remember much about the specifics of the class but the lesson I learned in good work ethics stayed with me the rest of my life and I surely believe it helped me achieve many of my goals.

I was so impressed at our 30th class reunion that Mrs. LaFrenz would remember my name when she had taught so many students over the years. I know she touched my life and I thank her for all her years of dedication.

Berk Stanley  Class of '56

Mom is enjoying the posted memories. Thanks you. She says to tell Tony Murfin and Larry Eiker not to worry about failing her math class. She failed another student TWICE before he finally passed, and he was her cousin! (She wouldn't let me mention his name).

Because I had my Algebra and Geometry requirements completed before I came to Liberty (and since I had no real aptitude for more advanced math), I didn't have the privilege of being in a class taught by Mrs. LaFrenz. Instead, I have countless fond memories of "Murt's Mom". The patience, tolerance and love she showed to all of us is truly extraordinary. So, thanks, Murt's Mom, for putting up with the antics of Nancy and Murt and Sharon and me, as well of all the others whose lives you touched. You made a difference to us all.

Diane (Igoe) Mnookin '56

My memory of Mrs. LaFrenz may be a little different from the others.  I was in her Algebra class and remember her as a great teacher.  If she hadn't been I probably wouldn't have passed.  But my favorite memory of her is as the Faculty Advisor for the yearbook.  She was a wonderful guide and helped me and the staff to put together a very good yearbook, filled with wonderful memories.  Her patience, her good nature, and her love of students helped us so much.  I will never forget that experience or her.

Sharon (Rotsch) Sohns '56

I took Gen Math, Algebra, Algebra 2, Geometry and Trig with Mrs. La Frenz over my years at Liberty Hi.  I will never forget how much I enjoyed subdividing lines and angles.  (I was weird even then.)  But the math I learned there with Mrs. La Frenz has stayed with me throughout my life and changed the direction of my life.  I think it was the "Problem-Solving" that she taught me that made a difference. Thanks so much, Mrs. La Frenz.  How wonderful it must be to know that you have touched and help mold so many lives.   

Dick Haug  Cucamonga, CA  '56

I believe the best way to describe Mrs. LaFrenz is to say she was one of the best teachers in the Liberty School System. No, I wasn't one of her best math students -- I barely made average grades in Algebra and Geometry. But she certainly built a foundation for me for later years when I entered college. I took a math course called Theory of Mathematical Thought. The fundamentals that Mrs. LaFrenz taught me in high school helped me pass this course. I made better grades in this math course than in high school only because she drilled in her students the proper mechanics of learning and problem solving. I remember so well those "word and work problems." And today still, the one geometric theorem she said we should never forget -- I've not forgotten -- Pythagorean's Theorem -- that in a right triangle the hypotenuse squared is equal to the sum of the squares of the other sides.

I'll never forget it -- and thanks Mrs. LaFrenz for being one of the best teachers, and certainly the best math teacher, any student could possibly have. (I did get that theorem right didn't I?) Happy 99th birthday.

Marvin Sands Class of 1958

With the number of students which were taught over the years, I canít imagine that I am remembered but I sure remember Mrs. LaFrenz. She had to put up with me for four years. If I am remembered, it probably is because of Library books.

Coming from a one room school, I was told that I wasnít ready for algebra and took General Math my first year. It was too easy as were the next three years of Algebra, Algebra 2, Geometry and Trig. It seems like Mrs. LaFrenz ended up taking a library book away from me on a daily basis. At the end of class, I would have to see her to get my book back.

The teaching had to be great because I went on to ten hours of college math with no trouble. And I still remember it was always do the problem step by step, not just give the answer.

Sam Lawrence, Class of Ď53

When I moved to Liberty my sophomore year, I was so happy to have teachers who truly cared about the students.  I had moved from Wichita East which had a student population of about 3000.  Mrs. LaFrenz's geometry class was so hard I had to have a tutor, occasionally. Arthur Carder tried valiantly to explain to me what I seemed incapable of understanding. There was a fellow in my geometry class who asked so many questions that we wanted to stone him, but he's an architect now.  He must have known he needed to understand geometry.  I remember how patient Mrs. LaFrenz was with him.  Mrs. LaFrenz inspired me with her yearbook sponsorship. I became a yearbook journalism teacher/sponsor. Happy Birthday

Linda (Major) Clark Class of '56

Since Martha and I have been best friends since 3rd grade I always considered you my second Mom. I believe I was at your house more than my own. I have treasured memories of growing up on Arthur Street.  My favorite memories are of going (living) to the house in the country.  Sometimes I still think I can smell fried chicken drifting from that direction.  Going to your house just before a big snow in hopes of not making it to school the next day was a favorite time.  Giggling and talking until we fell asleep and French toast with powdered sugar for breakfast was also a favorite. You kept a careful watch on us and made sure we stayed in line.  That must have been very trying.  I guess you did a pretty good job. Thanks for being there for me.  

Nancy (Berry) Trout  Class Ď56

While talking with my mother recently (she will be 87 in July), she told me Mrs. LaFrenz was not only her high school teacher, but also taught her brother who is in his early 90's. Although I had Mrs. LaFrenz as my Algebra teacher, my fondest memories of her are as "Martha's Mother".  So, "Martha's Mother", Best Wishes for a very Happy Birthday! 

 Helen (Berndt) Mann  Class of '56   

Dear Mom LaFrenz, 

I have so many fond memories of you and Pop and Martha that it's hard for me to pick ones to remind you of but I will begin. 

One of the most special memories is of the many times you invited us to your home for Sunday dinner.  It was always so delicious and welcome after the monotony of the college food.  One think I remember most was the half apple that you had tinted red and flavored with red-hots.  It had cream cheese and nut filling.  It was so pretty and so good.  I still do that for special dinners and always tell the story about having it for the first time at your house. 

That red apple salad was served in the "old" house where we gathered in the barn to build those award winning Beta Sig floats.  Remember the one with the huge cardinal that was so tall that we couldn't get it under the electrical wires without the help of a pole when we took it into town? 

That was the days of the wonderful black Plymouth, too.  We had a great time in that car.  We had a dance one time in the basement of the library in town and we hooked your big trailer on the back to haul hay bales for decorations.  I remember riding back after the clean-up on that trailer and my leg slipped between the bales and the side of the trailer.  I thought surely I was going to fall off and kept yelling at Martha to stop but we were laughing so hard she just thought we were acting silly and kept on driving over the old Richfield Rd. bridge.  (There's a new one now, you know.  But, I miss the clanking of the boards still.)  I guess someone finally pulled me up because we didn't stop and I didn't fall. 

Then, you built the beautiful new house next door.  I remember the blue and I always think of you and Pop living there.  One time when Jeff was about 7-8 months old (he's 40 now) we visited you.  Pop taught Jeff to crawl that day by taking off his watch and dangling it just in front of him until he figured out what he could do to get it. 

Then, I remember the many, many New Year's Eves with Martha and Bob and Nancy and Larry.  That has always been one of those special times of every year.  I have a special picture frame on a shelf in the kitchen that holds each new year's picture.  We always have to find someone who will take "the picture" of the six of us so I can have it as a reminder until the next time. 

I guess I could go on and on and on...  Those memories are so special and you have been such an important part of my life--46 years of memories.  Have a wonderful 99th birthday and know that many people will be sharing that day with you whether we are there in person or just in thoughts. 


                Anna Margaret

I just want to take a moment to say Mrs. LaFrenz was one of my best teachers ever. She will be remembered always as a lovely lady, an inspiration as well as my math teacher. Thanks, Class of '56, for the opportunity to send this sincere tribute through your web site on the occasion of Mrs. LaFrenz' birthday.

Phyllis Alexander, LHS Class of "47

"My, how the passage of decades can change perspective. I am reading tributes to a woman who was feared only slightly less than Doobies Johnson. Tributes offered by fellows who would stop what they were doing when they saw her coming down the hall, so as to be inconspicuous.

Howard Dunn would be an exception. Teachers' pets strive for attention. When I read his tribute, I got nauseous. Those boxes he thinks were so great are what came between me and Mrs.LaFrenz. I told her those boxes took the thought out of thought problems. It seemed to me we ought to be made to struggle through those dreaded thought problems using our reasoning, and not rely on the crutch of a box to substitute for figuring something out on our own. And I told her so. Not while I was taking the class, mind you. I had enough reasoning to know that was a bad idea.

But after reflecting on Howard's tribute for a while, I got some comfort out of it. Even with the passage of so many years, and the disturbing changes to the outside of our bodies we see when we look in the mirror, it is good to know we remain the same on the inside. Howard is an excellent example. Once a brown nose, always a brown nose.

Mike Maloney, Class of '56"

Received May 7, 2002

Well, I didn't graduate from high schooling 1956, more like 1997, but Irene LaFrenz is my great-aunt and she has left some lasting impressions on me. I remember her informing me that Mathematics were extremely important to my education, especially geometry, when I was in the second grade. I remember her telling me that it was very important to do what I loved in college, as it would be with me all the rest of my life. 

I also remember her encouraging me to get dirty and drive my father up the wall, as he had done that to his parents when he was young, and as she said, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree". I remember her as the one of the sharpest people I know, regardless of age. 

I am proud that she has been recognized and is so well-loved by people of all ages. 

Sarah LaFrenz

University of Missouri Senior, Granddaughter of Samuel Irving LaFrenz, Uncle's Vern's baby brother. 

Best Wishes to a GREAT! Great-aunt and kudos to Martha Rose for being so cool for starting this web page.

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