[Update: J.J.'s funeral will be held at 11am, Friday, July 31, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 2400 N. Canal St., in Orange. Internment will be at Fairhaven Memorial Park in Santa Ana at 2:30pm, following the service. Visitation will be available at Shannon Bryan Mortuary on July 30, 3pm-8pm]
The only child of noted Orange County historian and attorney Leo J. Friis (1901-1980), J.J. was born on March 1, 1928. He grew up on Clementine St. in Anaheim, near the city park, and graduated from Anaheim High School, Fullerton College and Pomona College.
On Oct. 6, 1973, he married librarian Harriet Jane Lampert in Orange.
Beginning in the 1960s, J.J. ran Friis-Pioneer Press (originally called Pioneer Press), which his father started in Santa Ana. He was first co-owner and then owner of the press and print shop. Under the Friss-Pioneer Press imprint, J.J. published many classic works of Orange County history. (See list below.) He also published books on other subjects, but I’m not as familiar with those. The print shop closed in the 1990s, but he published a reprint of an earlier title as recently as last year.
J.J. was extremely active in local historical organizations. He was the longtime chairman of the Old Courthouse Museum Society, was involved in the historical societies in Orange and Anaheim, and was still on the board of the Orange County Historical Society (OCHS) at the time of his death.
J.J. had also been active in the Native Sons of the Golden West since the 1950s, and served as their Statewide Organist.
Musical and artistic, he was involved in numerous musical organizations over the years and was dean of the Orange Coast Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
In recent years, J.J. had a number of health problems, but he continued to be active in the community. As recently as our last OCHS board meeting, he was contributing thoughtful advice and giving us the benefit of his experience on a variety of issues before the board.
As Anaheim Historical Society president Cynthia Ward writes, J.J “was something of a legend. His ‘larger than life’ persona will be missed by all.”
Below is a list of some of the Orange County historical titles published by Pioneer/Friis-Pioneer Press:
- Dr. Herb: Memoirs of Herbert A. Johnston, M.D., by Margaret Johnston (1961)
- The Village of Garden Grove, 1870-1905, by Leroy Doig (1962)
- George W. Barter: Pioneer Editor, by Leo J. Friis (1962)
- Orange County Through Four Centuries, by Leo J. Friis (1965)
- The Town of Garden Grove, by Leroy L. Doig (1966)
- Tilda from Tustin, by Inez Pierson (1966)
- Rawhide and Orange Blossoms, by the Quill Pen Club (1967)
- The Charles W. Bowers Memorial Museum and its Treasures, by Leo J. Friis (1967)
- When Anaheim Was 21, by Leo J. Friis (1968)
- Yorba Linda, Its History, by March Butz (1970)
- Newhope Days; An Adventure in Living, by Leroy L. Doig (1971)
- Newport Bay: A Pioneer History, by Ellen K. Lee (1973)
- David Hewes: More Than the Golden Spike, by Leo Friis (1974)
- Anaheim's Cultural Heritage, by Leo J. Friis (1975)
- Kleinigkeiten, by Leo J. Friis (1975)
- The Olive Mill: Orange County's Pioneer Industry, by Wayne Dell Gibson (1975)
- Villa Park: Then and Now, by Louise Booth (1976)
- Anaheim...And So It Was, by Dixie Edwards (1976)
- John Frohling: Vintner and City Founder, by Leo J. Friis (1976)
- The City of Garden Grove, by Leroy L. Doig (1977)
- Three Arch Bay, An Illustrated History, by Karen Turnbull (1977)
- Historic Buildings of Pioneer Anaheim, by Leo J. Friis (1979)
- At the Bar, by Leo J. Friis (1980)
- Jeems Pipes of Pipesville Visits Santa Ana, by Leo Friis (1980)
- The Ranchos of Don Pacifico Ontiveros, by Virginia L. Carpenter (1982)
- Campo Aleman: The First Ten Years of Anaheim, by Leo J. Friis (1983)
- Westminster Colony California 1869-1879, by Ivana Freeman Bollman (1983)
- A Child's History of Placentia, by Virginia L. Carpenter (1984)
- Centennial Cookbook, by the O.C. Pioneer Council (1988)
- History of the Rosenhamer-Oberberger Family, by Dolores Rosenhamer (1990)