Richard Friss
(1931 - 2010)

Richard Friss



This is the memorial website I created for my father. I thought this would help comfort family and friends by giving us a place to share memories. We will be creating a Memory Book for the family to keep as well. So, if you feel comfortable posting, please sign the guestbook, or leave a candle, or share a story or photo, or all of the above. If you would rather share privately, you can contact me thru this website by clicking the Contact Marina link in the upper right hand corner. Since some have asked where they could make a donation in Dad's honor, I have included that in the Donate section. Thank you so much for asking, and for visiting this site.

"I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not to exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them. I shall use my time." - Jack London

Richard Friss was a lifelong educator and learner who touched many people's lives. Richard grew up in St. Louis, Missouri. He was a veteran of the Korean War, and proud of his service at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and Alameda, California as a Meteorologist for the Navy. His assignment at Alameda started his love of San Francisco and the Bay Area, deciding to make the Bay Area his home after he was discharged. He graduated from San Francisco State University. He was an extremely dedicated High School English teacher in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District for 30 years, teaching at Mt. Diablo High School, and most recently at Northgate High School. Both concurrently and after teaching at Northgate, he enjoyed working with the Bay Area Writing Project through UC Berkeley, teaching teachers how to improve and teach interesting, extraordinary English classes.

His role as an educator and learner did not cease with retirement from Northgate, but continued until his passing. Always an idealist, perfectionist, and yet altruistic, no matter what stage of life he was in, he worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others, as well as his own. Most recently, he was awarded the "2010 Leadership and Excellence" award for working to improve life as a resident of retirement living. He was a passionate activist for political and social justice. A prolific writer, he was a frequent contributor to Letters to the Editor of the "San Francisco Chronicle" as well as other publications. He had a lifelong love of the Arts, including Literature, Architecture, Design, Music, Dance, Theatre, Graphic Design and Cuisine. He was also an excellent cook, and later in his life he very much enjoyed fulfilling a lifelong goal by learning and playing the piano. He loved to sing, had a wonderful sense of humor, and a booming laugh. He was a great storyteller. In retirement, when he could no longer go to the Symphony, he became a big San Francisco Giants baseball fan, and enthusiastically supported the team.

He was a loving father and devoted grandfather. He passed away after a brief illness. He is survived by his daughter, son-in-law, grandchildren, sister, niece, nephews, and friends.

Guest Book Wall (What is this?)

Hover your mouse over the wall images to see each guest book entry.

Guest Book (26 entries)
I'm an anesthesiologist in San Diego and a former student of Mr. Friss's. I was quite a pain in high school (to say the least). Mr. Friss was the first person to set boundries for me while at the same time motivating me to learn. He wouldn't accept anything but my best. And while I failed over and over to find my "best", he never gave up on me. I wouldn't be where I am today without his teaching.
Byron Fergerson (Former Student)
January 26th, 2016
Mr. Friss saw things in me, academically, that I did not see. He pushed me my sophomore year to express myself through words. No other teacher at Northgate prepared me more for College and life than Mr. Friss did. He refused to accepted mediocre work, and pushed everyone to do their best. To this day I try to paint pictures with my words – and always ask Who-What-Where and Why. I went from dreading his class sophomore year, to requesting a transfer into his class senior year. He made me a better person. I wrote him from college thanking him, and I wish I had again when I graduated. I was heartbroken to find this site, as I was hoping that I could let him know how much he influenced my life in 2 short years at Northgate. God Bless you Mr. Friss and family.
Adam Maul (Former Student)
June 25th, 2014
In this day and age, where it's more important to be cool than to write with proper grammar and punctuation, I have insisted on writing with who-what-where-when-why/how, all because of this man, my highschool teacher for three consecutive years, Mr. JR Friss. He has taught me to always question what is being told to me, even though it's "always the way it has been"; To be clear what the facts are, even though they're ignored by most people; To find an edge and walk on it; To remember that the real world exists even though you're in school; To never let the evaluation of your work be a measurement of your worth, but a measurement of your growth. I was reminded of him yesterday, when an observant person took notice of my writing, and gave me her kind compliment of its structure. Thank you, Mr. Friss. I'll miss you, and I promise I'll make you proud.
Henry Liao (Student)
August 29th, 2013
Marina and family-

I am so sad to learn of Mr. Friss passing. He was such a great teacher... one of my all-time favorites. My year with him at Northgate was so inspiring, incredibly tough and most of all, memorable. Nobody hit nerves with his feedback the way he did, but it was always concise, spot-on and prodded us to improve ourselves with fierce determination. His wry sense of humor was a new thing for some of us students, and we came to love it, seeing it almost as a privileged transition from high school senior to soon-to-be college student. He didn't laugh at us, he laughed with us at ourselves. And in doing so, taught us to take learning seriously, while not taking ourselves too seriously. I've been told many times that I write well; that I write with a seasoned voice. For as much as that's true, as well for many other lessons learned, I thank your father deeply. He was truly a great educator and a wonderful man. And I am so sorry for your deep loss. -Maggie
Maggie Tsai-Straight (Former Student)
June 10th, 2013
Mr. Friss (as I called him) taught me to make my words count. He inspired me, made me feel that I mattered and prepared me for college. I will never forget him.
Chris Adams (Student)
April 9th, 2013
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"I still think of you each day Dad and feel your presence. Unfortunately i Lasting is closing down tomorrow night, so this Memorial will be no longer. If I can, I will find another site. Thank you to all who have posted or contacted me. God Bless."
Marina Caruso
December 30th, 2019
"I still think of you each day Dad and feel your presence. Unfortunately i Lasting is closing down tomorrow night, so this Memorial will be no longer. If I can, I will find another site. Thank you to all who have posted or contacted me. God Bless."
Marina Caruso
December 30th, 2019
"I still think of you each day Dad and feel your presence. Unfortunately iLasting is closing down tomorrow night, so this Memorial will be no longer. If I can, I will find another site. Thank you to all who have posted or contacted me. God Bless."
Marina Caruso
December 30th, 2019
"Over the years, I have often told my children the story of Mr. Friss and the importance of discipline and excellence in writing. He was one of my greatest influences in high school. His passion, which was often voiced as harsh criticism, was a gift."
James Dubow
August 18th, 2018
"There were, for me, 3 life-altering teachers at MDHS. Mr Friss was one. As my younger kids have gone through high school (twins - now entering their Senior Year at CPHS) I have thought about him more and more frequently. Thanks for bringing this to m"
Brian Seibel
August 6th, 2016
"Mr. Friss, you were my favorite teacher. You changed my life, made me think for myself, awoke my political voice, encouraged & inspired me. I incorporate much of what you taught me into my own teaching. I sorely wish I could've thanked you again. <3"
Lori Ziegler Halt
June 24th, 2014
"We are thinking of you today, as we do each day. I really miss our e-mails and the love, support and interest you showed as a Grandfather and Father in these last years. It meant so very, very much to me. I love you, Dad."
Marina Caruso
September 30th, 2010
"Oh Mr Friss how we butted heads! You knew I had potential somewhere inside of me. I still have the purple piece of paper you gave me with one word on it "verve". You told me I had it and to never forget it. Thank you - you are missed"
chrissy winslow-anderson
September 27th, 2010
"I had Mr. Friss for english in the 80's. I learned so much from him that even all these years later I still benefit from the lessons. He was a great teacher. May God Bless your family."
Denise Lynch
July 25th, 2010
"I love you and miss hearing from you every day!! I loved the uncle/niece relationship we developed in my adult years and you were the best GUD (great uncle dude)!!"
Diane Goffinet
July 16th, 2010


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