Saturday, December 14, 2019

Phil Brigandi (1959-2019)

Phil at San Juan Hot Springs, 2009 (Photo by author)
Orange County Historian, author, former County Archivist, and lifelong Boy Scout Phillip K. “Phil” Brigandi passed away this week in his beloved hometown of Orange at the age of sixty. He was the author of at least thirty books and countless well-researched articles about Southern California history. He had, as his friend Lisa Baldwin said, an “amazing gift for retaining, distilling and recounting local history.” His loss has left a gaping hole in the heart of the local historical community and those who loved him.

Memorials and tributes to Phil included...
  • Phil's funeral, planned by his brothers, was held Jan. 29 at Waverly Chapel, Fairhaven Cemetery in Santa Ana. More than 200 people attended. Video has been posted. Fairhaven's website includes public comments.
  • Orange County Council, Boy Scouts of American Annual Awards Gala: Phil was already scheduled to receive the highest honor awarded to volunteers in Scouting -- the Silver Beaver -- on Jan. 25. It was awarded posthumously before a crowd of 600. See video here.
  • The Orange County Historical Society held a public tribute to the man, his work and his legacy on Jan. 9 at Trinity Episcopal Church in Orange. More than 300 people attended. Video  of the first half and the second half of the program are now both online. I've also posted my comments as text here. The Society is also starting a fund in his name that will help support the newly renamed Phil Brigandi History Room at OCHS. The Society will also host a memorial hike later this year.
  • Hemet/Temecula historical community: The Hemet Heritage Foundation, Hemet Museum, San Jacinto Museum, and the Ramona Bowl Foundation held a tribute to Phil at the Diamond Valley Arts Center, in Hemet on Jan. 10. Historian Steve Lech gave the eulogy. About 60 attended.
  • City of Orange Public Library assembled a small exhibit about Phil and the books he's written about Orange's history.
  • A Scouting Celebration of Life was held at the O.C. Boy Scouts of America office in Santa Ana on Jan. 4 with John Nordenstam and David Daniels. See video here.
  • California State Historic Resources Commissioner Alan Hess honored Phil as part of the Commission's Jan. 31 meeting. (Skip to about 1:15:00 in the video.)
  • Government: The Orange County Board of Supervisors and the city councils of Anaheim and Santa Ana adjourned meetings in his memory.
I'm sure this will not be the end of the tributes to Phil, and I'll do my best to keep this page updated as I learn more.

Half of Phil's ashes will be interred with his mother's ashes in a niche at Fairhaven. The other half will be spread at his Lost Valley Scout Camp (where the flag is already at half mast) sometime this spring.

Phil was born in Orange, California, on June 29, 1959 to Pamela and Michael Brigandi. Michael was a Jungle Cruise skipper at Disneyland and would later have a long career working for the Orange County Probation Department. Phil and his brothers Stephen and Christopher were raised in Orange.

Phil was fascinated with local history even as a student at Handy Elementary School. He began to do actual historical research and writing as a teenager, compiling stories of Orange High School and interviewing “old timers.” This, in turn, led him to the Orange Community Historical Society where he was elected to the board of directors at the age of 18. It was there that he began to forge lifelong friendships with fellow historians, including that society’s president, Mark-Hall Patton.
Phil Brigandi, circa 1990s. (More photos posted on Flickr)
At the same time, Phil was very involved in his local Boy Scout Troop and learned to love camping, hiking and backpacking. He especially loved his time at the Lost Valley scout camp near Warner Springs. He later joined the camp staff and eventually ran the place, becoming something of a legend among Orange County scouters. For the rest of his life, he would return each year to clear trails and teach a new generation of scouts.

Phil was also a Marx Brothers fan from an early age. He interviewed a number of those who worked on their movies and he counted being personally insulted by Groucho Marx as one of the high points of his life.

In Orange, Phil began writing historical columns for the local newspaper. He started writing lengthier pieces by the time he was 19 and published his first real book at age 23. He graduated from California State University Fullerton, where his abilities and enthusiasm were identified, encouraged and guided by Dr. Art Hansen and top History Department faculty.

Phil’s college work took him back to study the history in the areas of San Diego County near his beloved Lost Valley. He made close friendships with elders at the Pala reservation and steeped himself in the lore of the Anza-Borrego desert.
With Phil Brigandi and Jim Sleeper in Jim's office, 2009. (Photo by author)
All through his years as a developing historian, Phil was also befriending and learning from the great Orange County local historians of the day, including Jim Sleeper, Ether Cramer, and Phil’s greatest role model, Don Meadows. They were his heroes, his friends and – by example – his teachers. They were, in some ways, like family to him. He never missed an opportunity to pay tribute to their contributions and he would always hold himself and his own work up to their highest standards.

“Local history is often underappreciated, viewed as parochial, or simply ignored, written by ‘blue hairs’ and the ‘untrained.’,” writes historian and close friend Stephanie George. “But, Phil's research skills and knowledge of his beloved city of Orange, his county, and southern California could match any academic -- and then some -- as he explored through multiple disciplines the very fabric of who we were/are through his multiple books, articles, presentations, and storytelling.”

Phil approached local history as a calling, not just a job or even a career. As such, he was never very interested in how much (or sometimes even if) he was paid for his work. He once said, “My brain just doesn’t make the connection between the work I do and the pay I get. I just do what I do, the best way I know how. Money appears sometime later, and it’s always kind of a surprise.”

What did matter to him was the quality of his work and whether he was helping the greater cause of understanding and preserving Southern California’s history. He wanted to, and constantly did, make meaningful contributions to the subjects about which he cared so deeply.
Phil speaks at Orange County's 125th birthday party, hosted by OCHS. (Photo by author)
“I come from that older tradition of historians who put an emphasis on gathering up the facts and stress the narrative and chronological account over theory and analysis,” said Phil. “You have to start with the facts, after all. The analysis should come later. And too often, I've been the first historian to really research a specific topic or place. My emphasis has always been on telling the story.”

Phil’s articles appeared in Dezert Magazine, the Westerners' Branding Iron, the Orange County Historical Society's Orange Countiana, the High Country, the Overland Journal, the Journal of San Diego History, the Inland Chronicler, Desert Tracks, the Ventura County Historical Society Quarterly, the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, the Sand Paper, the California Museum of Photography Bulletin, Preview magazine, and many more.

His regular columns appeared in such periodicals as the Orange City News, the Orange Progress, the Rancho News (Temecula), the Aza-Aguanga Stageline, the Hemet News, the Borrego Sun, the Valley Chronicle (Hemet), and the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review and others.
Phil and Mark Hall-Patton with fellow book collector at the 2017 Pasadena Antiquarian Book Show
His many books included such titles as…
  • The History of Lost Valley and the Surrounding Area (1978)
  • The Plaza. A Local Drama in Five Acts (1982)
  • Looking Back . . . on the Ramona Pageant (1985)
  • A New Creation. The Incorporation of the City of Orange, 1888 (1988)
  • A Place Called Home. Orange's Architectural Legacy (1990 with Karen Wilson Turnbull)
  • Garnet Holme: California's Pageant Master (1991)  
  • Prayers, Presence, Gifts and Service. A Centennial History of the Hemet United Methodist Church, 1894-1994 (1994)
  • Orange, The City ‘Round the Plaza (1997)
  • The Ramona Pageant. A Pictorial History, 1923-1998 (1997)
  • Temecula, at the Crossroads of History (1998)
  • First Church. A 125th Anniversary History of the First United Methodist Church of Orange (1998)
  • Watson's Drug Store. A Downtown Orange Tradition. A Centennial History, 1899-1999 (1999)
  • 100 Years of Headline News [The Orange County Register] (1999)
  • Building the Future. The Story of the Eastern Municipal Water District (2000)
  • Old Orange County Courthouse; A Centennial History (2001)
  • Borrego Beginnings. Early Days in the Borrego Valley, 1910-1960 (2001)
  • "Out Among the Groves of Orange" A History of Orange Union High School, 1903-1953 (2003)
  • Barnstorming the Desert. The Life of Randall Henderson, Founder of Desert Magazine and a Pioneer Pilot of the Desert Southwest (2004)
  • Orange County Place Names A to Z (2006)
  • Images of America ... Orange (2008)
  • On My Honor, A Century of Scouting in Orange County, California (2010)
  • A Brief History of Orange, California - The Plaza City (2011)
  • Orange County Chronicles (2013)
  • A Call for Reform, The Southern California Indian Writings of Helen Hunt Jackson (2015 with Valerie Sherer Mathes)
  • Reservations, Removal and Reform: The Mission Indian Agents of Southern California, 1878-1903 (2018 with Valerie Sherer Mathes)
  • The Portola Expedition In Orange County (2019 with Eric Plunkett)
Phil also served as editor for a number of books, including A Hundred Years of Yesterdays by the Orange County Historical Commission.
Phil Brigandi, Orange County Archivist (Photo by author)
Phil had little patience for those who did lazy, inaccurate, or out-of-context historical work and for those who used history to grind political axes, invoke divisiveness, drum up marketable shock value, or “check off the boxes” of political correctness for the sake of career advancement.

The few detractors Phil ever had were usually bad historians with a jealous streak. At least a couple of these dismissed him as “a purist.” But that’s exactly what Phil was shooting for. He wanted to tell the narrative and get it right. He was happy to leave fiction, half-truths and wishful interpretation to others.

Phil grew up in a home without much, if any religion. But through friends he found Christ, made a personal study of theology, and was eventually very active in the Methodist church. Over time, he came to feel that the Methodists might not be the right fit for him and he no longer affiliated with a specific denomination. But his faith was always central in his life. Phil never evangelized by hitting people over the head with religion. But he made no secret of being a Christian and he lived and behaved in ways that made others want to know how they might have what he had.
Senior picture from Orange High annual
Phil never had a career plan beyond a consuming determination to research and write history. And for the most part, trusting in God worked out for him.

A couple years out of college Phil was hired as the historian and museum curator for the Ramona Pageant in Hemet. During his years in the desert, he was usually working multiple jobs at once – running the Temecula Museum, publishing books, and writing history columns for local newspapers. Work seemed to fall into his lap as he needed it.

After thirteen years in “exile,” Phil was invited back to Orange County. New Clerk-Recorder Tom Daly was reopening the Orange County Archives after a post-County-bankruptcy closure, and he turned to historian Jim Sleeper for recommendations on who should run the place. Sleeper suggested Phil, who happily accepted.

Phil had done some work at UCI’s Special Collections and had some training in the technical/library science end of archival practice, which added to his already vast understanding of Orange County history and how the records were used and could be best utilized. He was the perfect man for the job.
Phil, me, Stephanie George and Kevin Starr at Chapman University.
But Phil soon discovered that running the County Archives was not a one-person job. And the work at hand was not something that a randomly reassigned county employee could assist with. The work of identifying, preserving and sharing the County’s history required someone who not only could do the day-to-day work, but also cared deeply about local history. It was at this point he called me and offered me a job as his assistant. Disillusioned with the culture of the PR and marketing field that had been my day job, I immediately renounced evil, took my vow of poverty, devoted myself to the cause of preserving and sharing Orange County’s history, and never looked back.

The five years I worked for Phil were a far better education than I’d received with my university degree. As my mentor, he helped me build not just a knowledge of facts and how to “do” history, but also the underlying philosophical constructs that are critical to doing this kind of work WELL. He was not only my teacher and the best boss anyone ever had, but ultimately also a good friend. I had been spending my free time on local history projects and had even worked for a Museum before ever meeting Phil – But he showed me how to be an Orange County historian, introduced me to the people I needed to know, and set an enormously high bar for me by example.

And all of this was fun. As he liked to say, “Too many people mistake being serious for being solemn.” He was deadly serious about his work, but he was hardly ever solemn. The Orange County Archives was a fun place to be, good work was being done, stress levels were near zero, Phil was sharing his brilliance with anyone who needed a hand, and researchers always told us how much they looked forward to their visits. It was truly a golden age, and I was so lucky to have been part of it.
OCHS' Portola Trail Tour 2019 organizers.
Although he had his reasons, I never quite forgave Phil for leaving the Archives when he did. But we remained close friends. We went to the Glendale Postcard and Paper Shows together and stopped at a different classic L.A. restaurant for dinner each time. I helped him find homes for Jim Sleeper’s historical materials after Jim’s death. In some ways, he was the older brother I never had. He stopped by often for lunch and I called him often for advice.

And since I’d become president of the Orange County Historical Society, I had plenty of opportunities to Shanghai him as a speaker or volunteer.

And what a volunteer! He was the most reliable – and of course, trustworthy – volunteer a nonprofit ever had. From packing up our office, to speaking several times a year, to leading tours and hikes, to editing the Orange Countiana journal (for eight years), to breaking down tables after meetings, he was the Society’s not-so-secret weapon.

Phil was also a longtime member of the Los Angeles Corral of Westerners (where he also served as editor), Los Compadres Con Libros, the Queho Posse of the E Clampus Vitus, and the Orange Community Historical Society. And although scrupulously honest, Phil won the famed Pegleg Smith Liars Contest so many times that they finally had to disqualify him and make him a judge.
Phil with Cynthia and Richard Ward at the 2019 Anaheim Halloween Parade 
Phil made a lot of rules for himself and compromise was not in his vocabulary. Even when sticking to his guns required shooting himself in the foot, Phil insisted on doing things his own way or not at all. It was both noble and confounding.

Phil wanted no part of social media, even when it clearly would have been an invaluable platform for promoting his work. And he would quit a major project if he felt he was being disrespected – Even when he needed the work.

But generally, Phil’s commitment to a personal code was downright inspirational.

His work on the cultural phenomenon that surrounded the Ramona myth was a good example. Phil’s knowledge, research and hard work on the subject were vast. He planned to write a book about the far-reaching effects of Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona on Southern California’s tourism industry, self-image, and more. But early in his life, Phil had decided to be a “sharer” rather than a “hoarder.” So when he learned that Dr. Dydia DeLyser was working independently on a book on the exact same subject, he not only offered to share his knowledge and files, but became fast friends with Dydia and her boyfriend Paul. (Their Christmas Eve dinners together in L.A.’s Chinatown were always a highlight of the holidays for Phil.) Dydia went on to publish the definitive book on the topic and – true to his nature -- Phil was absolutely thrilled.

In the last few years, school teacher Eric Plunkett joined the merry band of serious local historians and Phil began collaborating with him on a number of projects. Their shared interest in the Spanish, Mexican and Early American eras of California, in particular, brought them together to work on articles, on a special Orange County Historical Society tour following the trail of Portola, and other projects. In recent weeks, they were jointly approached to work on a new book about the Portola Expedition for a major university press, and were just beginning that process.
Phil and I in Calico, 2014.
With no history of health problems, Phil was hit by a massive heart attack while crossing Lemon Street on his way to the Christmas tree lighting ceremony at the Plaza in Downtown Orange on December 8, 2019. A good Samaritan found him lying in the middle of Lemon Street, administered CPR, and called an ambulance. He was in a coma for four days at St. Joseph’s Hospital before passing away at 10:40 p.m. on Dec. 12. Stephanie George, Eric Plunkett and I were the last ones to see him and talk to him, just minutes before. I cannot, frankly, imagine what the landscape of local history will be like with his passing, but it is immeasurably diminished. And on a personal level, I can’t yet fathom what my own life will be like in a post-Phil world. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

Phil always predicted that he would die relatively young, as had so many men in his family. Although, one wonders if ignoring medical check-ups and eating a bachelor dude diet didn’t help make this a self-fulfilling prophecy. But we will never know.
Flag lowered for Phil's passing, Lost Valley Scout Reservation. (Courtesy Justin Scott)
At least we won’t have to wonder what his wishes were in the event of his untimely demise. Phil’s brother, Chris Brigandi, visited his apartment on the 13th. It was not difficult to find Phil’s recently-updated will. It began, “Grieve for yourself, but not for me, I truly believe Jesus Christ will see my soul safely in Heaven.”

We do grieve for ourselves, Phil. We grieve for all the work you would have accomplished in the coming decades – including projects already in progress. We grieve for all the great schemes yet to be hatched over late night tacos. We grieve for all the times our own work will suffer because we won’t have the benefit of your insights before going to press. We grieve all our future adventures together, exploring historic corners of California’s backcountry. We grieve never again seeing the excitement in your eyes when you encountered a new discovery or “aha” moment. We grieve the times we’d laugh so hard that we feared passing out. We will even miss the stories we’d already heard a dozen times – because they were part of you.

Phil was the best of Orange County. I will always miss him.
Phil Brigandi atop Tomato Springs, 2019. (Photo by author)


Kim said...

That was a wonderful tribute to Phil. He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Phil's story, and what he meant to you. Truly, our loss is great. But for him, he is where he knew he would be one day. May he rest in peace.

Judith S Anderson said...

I'm so sorry he's gone and I'm so glad he was here.

Jacque Gates said...

Such a beautiful homage to the treasured person that Phil was. How sorely he will be missed by myself and countless others. He has left a tremendous legacy to Orange County.

E Creely said...

I'm so sorry. May he rest in peace.

Rand B. said...

A really nice, comprehensive, and thoughtful piece on Phil. I liked him quite a bit. I first met him, and you, while I was in grad school in 2006. I interviewed him for a class assignment in the Introduction to Archiving class I was taking. He was personable and welcoming as he answered my questions and showed me around the OC Archives. That was my first exposure to archives as a profession and it left a lasting impression on me.

Peter Gruenbeck said...

Thank you Phil for your friendship over many years. You were like a brother by another mother as people would mix us up in our younger years. You touched many lives over the years and the world is better for it.

Ann Nepsa said...

A great and worthy tribute to a great and worthy historian. Well said Chris!

Karin Sizelove said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karin Sizelove said...

Truly a great tribute for your friend and mentor. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about him and his accomplishments. Thank you for taking the time to write this and for sharing. Sounds like he will truly be missed by many and we will all miss out on what he would have accomplished were he to have survived this attack.

Unknown said...

Chris you did a great job on writing this piece about Phil. It is a great lost for our History community. He did his big share. We owe so much to him. Peace to him.

Anne E. Collier said...

With his passing, the voices of the past have once again been silenced. He will be missed.

Aaron Harrison said...

Knew him well at my first job at Lost Valley in 1989. I marvelled at his knowledge, and kept tabs with him for many years after. He will be missed.

Jim McKenna said...

Just this moment discovered his passing from a post of on Facebook (no would not have approved)! Still somewhat in shock, not sure I can even be logical here. I’m not only shocked, I’m heavily saddened.

I have seen and spent time with Phil exactly 38 times. In 1982, I attended my very first of the Annual Peg Leg Smith Liar’s Contest having been asked to be a judge for the event. My first event and having never attended prior, it was a new experience for me. It took me no time at all, after listening to roughly 20 other prevaricators, Phil was clearly a ‘champion prevaricator’. He had participated a few years before, had won prior, and since has won more first place trophies than any other contestant in the history of the contest. It was always a long drive for him every year coming from Orange Country or Hemet, but he always said it was a beautiful drive and fun for him. Roughly 10 rears ago, he ‘retired’ from prevarication on his own volition, citing ‘he needed to give others a chance’ and has continued every year after as the contests verbal historian, moderator, and comedian! He was always there early and last to leave. I’m not sure, had I ever seen him elsewhere, would I have recognize him without his long, white duster.

As a co-member of CACTI (Committee to Accumulate Curious Tale of Incredibilty) with Phil for near four decades, I can say without reservation, the contest held formally every year since 1948.......will never be the same. Rest In Peace my friend.

Jim McKenna
Anza-Borrego Desert
Borrego Springs, Ca

Richard Clucas said...

A beautiful tribute. I haven't seen Phil since high school, but even then he had that passion for local history. I was always hoping to hear him talk.

Diana Lindsay said...

I first met Phil after he wrote a paper about the Boy Scouts exploring Coyote Canyon from Lost Valley over 40 years ago. Lowell and I were doing an update on our area guidebook ANZA-BORREGO DESERT REGION. Through the years we exchanged historical information about the Park area and most recently, he was sending me updates for a second edition of ANZA-BORREGO A TO Z, to be published in 2020. He was an outstanding historian and very meticulous. He was an expert on the early years of Borrego Valley and the old-time cattlemen of the area. In most recent years we met almost yearly at the annual Pegleg Smith Liars' Contest. He only missed when Easter Sunday would follow the Saturday night contest (which used to be held the first Saturday night in April - it is now the first Saturday night in March, so we were counting on him to always be the MC for the annual event for years to come). He was an amazing story-teller with perfect timing. He was made MC many years ago because he always won the contest and we wanted to give someone else a chance to win! He served well as a member of CACTI - the Committee to Assimilate Curious Tales of Incredibility - the committee with no formal meetings - everyone just showed up and the annual contest happened. Likely we will honor him at the next contest to be held the first Saturday night in March at the American Legion Post 853 in Borrego Springs (4515 Borrego Springs Rd, Borrego Springs, CA 92004)at dusk. DLINDSAY@SUNBELTPUB.COM

Bob & Charlene Baker said...

Thank you, Chris, for the wonderful tribute to Phil and beautifully capturing his accomplishments, life and person. We are shocked to learn of his passing. Anytime we were fortunate enough to be at an historical gathering that Phil was a part of, we always left with new nuggets of OC history! We join the large circle of his friends in mourning his passing, but feel so fortunate to have known him. We pray he is resting in peace, and for his "inner circle" of friends who will carry on his legacy of promoting and preserving local history!

Susan Deering said...

Thank you Chris for that wonderful tribute.

Maris said...

May God rest his soul but not his knowledge. Farewell Mr. Brigandi and thank you.

Brian Lochrie said...

Phil was the keynote speaker at Troop 241's 50th anniversary gala a few years ago. He embodied the Eagle Scout spirit in his character, leadership and love of community and will be missed.

Chuck Ramirez said...

I’m met Phil way back in 1980 in Troop 241. I was just joining and he was moving on. We stayed in touch over the years and had a number of great conversations. However, in retrospect, they were too few and too brief. There is never enough time and there’s not always a tomorrow. Phil, you will be missed. RIP, my friend.

Anonymous said...


My name is Jeff W, and I'm heartbroken by this news. I can't believe it.

Phil was a walking encyclopedia, and I've spent hours BS'n with him. Unfortunately though, our paths haven't crossed in years, but I've never forgotten about him and all the others that used to hang out together during the summers in Lost Valley and other activities.

God speed my friend...see you sooner rather than later!

Troy Meier said...

What a terrific look back at Phil’s life and your fortunate opportunity to learn from him. While I only met a couple times years (decades) ago through his brother, Chris, I would see his name associated with things in Southern California—particularly Orange County—that I was interested in. I heard his name spoken many times with the highest regard. I wish I could’ve picked his brain on some things about early OC and Anza Borrego, but I’m sure the legacy of his writings will leave many of us very glad that he took the endeavor of our local history seriously. He’ll be missed for sure.

~Troy Meier

Whittierboy said...

Phil was a scholar, fellow enthusiast and a very gentle soul. Also, he was my friend. He was generous to a fault and I will miss him terribly. The City of Orange will never have another so dedicated to its history. But when I’m working on my amateur historical research projects, and I have those rare but wonderful “ah ha” moments, I’ll know Phil is there with me.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sad and yet thankful for having had Phil in my life, he's the reason I'm an Eagle Scout, I wanted to be like Phil, I know that we all looked up Phil. Phil was one of the greatest positive influences I've ever known. My first experience with Phil was at a Lad & Dad when I was 7, I loved to hear his stories about the Cupeno, Phil could totally captivate me like no one else. Phil was always the highlight of my Lost VAlley adventures. I was staff one summer and I like everyone else loved to visit him at the original homestead shack. One of my fondest memories of Scouting is Phil giving me a piece of pottery to put in my Vigil pouch which I still cherish. The passion for history and nature he instilled in me has been passed onto my children. Phil has, and will always be a part of me. Thank you Phil

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate this tribute. I had no idea of Phil's accomplishments! I went to school with his brother Chris, and so knew of Phil as a student, and then as a historian, via Lisa Ackerman Baldwin. I am touched by Phil's dedication and passion for Lost Valley. My son is a LifeScout, and I am looking forward to sharing with him this extra connection, as my son also has always loved 'his' camp at Lost Valley. I look forward to attending the memorial in January. God's peace, Jill

BeeBeeBeeLeaves said...

Beautiful tribute.

dann gibb said...

I cannot attempt to express how deeply shocked and grieved I was and am by the sudden announcement of Phil's death.

Chris Merritt said...

Such a great historian and friend - thank you for writing this Chris. He will be deeply missed.

Candice said...

Chris, although I've never met you or Phil, you two have been my heroes for the past decade or more for your dedication to local history and unswavering focus on accuracy without rhetoric or agenda. I just found out about Phil's death a few minutes ago, and am in shock. Thank you for writing this incredible profile, and thank you for the work you have done and will continue to do.

David Davis said...

Stephen and Christopher, I am so sorry to hear about Phil. Please accept my heartfelt condolences. You may remember that we were childhood friends. Phil and I were in Troop 241 together, in the Baja Bugs patrol. We did a lot of fun camping back in the day; Camp Mirimichi, Emerald Bay, and many more. About 10 or 15 years ago, I met him at the basement of the County building were he worked and we went out for lunch. I gave him some Scout stuff I had been saving over the years, and we talked about old times. From time to time, I would keep up with his career via the internet. What a remarkable life. I am truly sorry for your loss. David Davis

Gail L. Fiorini-Jenner said...

I have just "discovered" Phil and his work while working on a book on Old Cemeteries and Graveyards in California --- and was so excited to "meet" someone whose love of local history and regional history was as inspiring as could be. I have written 10 books of local/regional history, so I know how deeply he felt about the collection of and preservation of the stories and traditions and vanishing history of an area. Please accept my humble accolades for such a great man. He died much too young.
Gail L. Fiorini-Jenner
Etna, CA
I would love to visit your museums and archives. I was just in San Diego in January for 5 days, trying to visit as many old and/or abandoned cemetery sites. Now with the whole "lock down" it looks like my future visits may be postponed past my editor's due date (Two Dot/Globe Pequot)....

Marvin Duane Ball said...

Phil and I corresponded by email about his article on Orange Pavement talking about my great, great grandfather on being the namesake for Ball Road in Anaheim,California. I was introduced to Phil by Jane Newell Anaheim Historical society! He was very pleasant to talk to. He was a unbelievable source of historical information, he will be sorely missed. Such a wealth of Anaheim history...