January 5, 1915–June 8, 2008
La Leche League International and the world lost an amazing woman when Edwina Froehlich, of Inverness, Illinois, passed away in early June 2008. Edwina was co-founder of La Leche League International and co-author of The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, which has over 2 million copies in print.
In 1956, Edwina Froehlich and six other women met in Franklin Park, Illinois to share information on how to successfully breastfeed their babies. The group quickly attracted the attention of other women and became an organization called, "La Leche League." "In those days you didn’t mention ‘breast’ in print,” Froehlich said. “We knew that if we were ever going to get anything in the paper we would have to find a name that wouldn’t actually tell people what our organization was about." The breastfeeding support group had been fascinated by the importance placed on breastfeeding by early Spanish settlers in America who, in 1598 dedicated a shrine to "Nuestra Senora de la Leche y Buen Parto" ("Our Lady of Happy Delivery
and Plentiful Milk." They captured the Spanish word for milk, "leche," and from these roots grew La Leche League International, a breastfeeding support not-for-profit organization. LLLI has groups in every U.S. state and in 64 different countries. The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding has been translated into eight languages and Braille.
Edwina was a member of the Board of Directors of La Leche League, and at various times served as Secretary, Treasurer and Vice Chairman of that group. She also worked at La Leche League International as Executive Secretary from 1956 until her retirement in 1983. Edwina, according to her co-founders, had an indomitable spirit. When difficulties stood in the way of La Leche League she said, “We are not going to let this kind of thing get in the way. This is a problem that we are going to have to live through, and work through, and resolve, so that we can continue to do what we originally set out to do—help mothers successfully breastfeed their babies.”
Born Edwina Hearn on January 5, 1915 in Bronx, New York, she attended Mundelein College in Chicago, Illinois, later married John Francis Froehlich and had three children. Preceeded in death by her husband in 1997, she is survived by her three sons: Paul Froehlich, David Froehlich and Peter Froehlich; three daughters-in-law and nine grandchildren.
The memorial service celebrating the life of Founder Edwina Froehlich was held on Saturday, July 12 at Elk Grove High School in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. It was a fitting tribute to a remarkable woman. With over three hundred people in attendance, the celebration displayed photos spanning her entire life and the service included moving tributes from her family and friends. It all conveyed clearly the nature of how she lived her life: with vibrancy, an optimistic spirit, an openness to new ideas, a love of learning, and a desire to make better the lives of others.
In support of the organization that Edwina helped found, the Froehlich family requests that donations be made to La Leche League International for the Edwina Froehlich Memorial Fund. Memorial gifts should be sent to La Leche League International, 957 N. Plum Grove Road, P.O. Box 4079, Schaumburg, Illinois, USA 60168-4079.