The Woodward Alumni Hall of Fame Association
Harry Friberg Inducted 1984 - Class of 1921
Harry Friberg, who devoted much of his life to conducting the legal affairs of Lucas County, is this year's selection to represent the students of Woodward’s predecessor schools on the Woodward High School Hall of Fame.
A 1921 graduate of Old Woodward, Mr: Friberg served 43 years in the county prosecutor’s office - as an assistant prosecutor, chief assistant prosecutor, and, for the last 24 years of his career, as Lucas County prosecutor.
As a student at Woodward, Mr. Friberg's major interest was in chemistry. Although the school offered only general chemistry, his teacher conducted a special class in advanced chemistry for him and a few other top students. But Mr. Friberg became a lawyer instead of a chemist, largely because two of his closest friends, law students at Ohio State University, convinced him he ought to join them there.
The years between Woodward and Ohio State law school he spent at the University of Toledo, where he lettered as an infielder on the baseball team and as a guard on the basketball team. It was a last-minute long shot by him that defeated Bowling Green in a 1923 basketball game.
The young lawyer joined the prosecutor's staff in 1933, just in time to play a role in the break-up of the Licavoli gang in Toledo. He became chief assistant prosecutor in 1943, and in 1952 he was elected Lucas County prosecutor for a term beginning Jan. 1, 1953. In the ensuing five elections he won re-election easily for the four-year terms and served in that office until his retirement effective at the end of May in 1976.
Mr. Friberg was an early consumer advocate, achieving much in that area without going to court. Over the years, he found himself less involved in criminal prosecution and more involved with his duties as legal counsel for the county. The list of lawyers who were associated with him during his hears in office reads like a Who's Who of the Toledo bar.
When he left office at the age of 73, Mr. Friberg sent a message to his successor that contained much of his philosophy for the office of prosecutor. The message said in part: "You are about to become the possessor of immense powers, greater in the aggregate than those possessed by any other public official in Lucas County." "You will be expected to prosecute vigorously those persons accused of crime while at the same time protect the rights of the innocent, as well as the rights of those persons generally believed to be guilty but whose guilt has not been legally established...."
"I do not mean to underplay the need to convict the guilty. I merely point out that there is a strong temptation to be constantly on the attack. The public tends not to notice the absence of ultimate successes, so the image of being a zealous crime fighter is good politics. BUT wherever great zeal and great power come together, there is also great danger of abuse of power.
"When I became prosecutor, I resolved that my office as well as me personally would always be accessible to the people. Not just to the influential who will always find a way, but also to the "little people" who are too often made to feel that their government and their officials are too remote for them to pay any attention to their personal complaints.. .. I recommend this policy to you."