Leo Frisk and harveylacey.com

Leo with his wife Lisa and his friend Harvey Lacey

Leo with his wife Lisa and his friend Harvey Lacey

Leo Frisk was a friend of mine.  He gave the most important gift one friend can give another.  He believed in me.  He’s the reason why we have the website.  He created it.  I’ve tried to continue it in that spirit.

The first time I heard of Leo Frisk was in early June of 2002.  He sent me a private message on tractorbynet.com.  He wanted to know how I was bending square tubing and extended an invitation to come to sunny San Diego, bring tools.  I didn’t know at the time the difference he would make in my life.

Then in March of 2003 I got this private message from Leo on tractorbynet.com.

Hi Harv

I miss your posts. It has been several days and before long, I will be going through withdrawal.

I have your profile saved under favorites and go there at least once a day just to see what you have written. It all started a few months ago after returning from the hospital having had most of my intestines removed along with a huge cancer mass. You kept me alive — at least you gave me something interesting to keep me from feeling too sorry for myself. I am a computer science teacher (mostly retired now) and I use your articles all of the time as examples for my classes, particularly your articles on work ethics.

I was a farmer until I move to San Diego in ’56. I love to build or rebuild machines, cars, tractors, and even a bit of wrought iron.  After working in a body shop for a few years, the local college approached me and I eventually accepted their offer. I only had a high school diploma and a lot of years experience as a farmer and auto mechanic and body man. I taught two years, they made me an administrator. In ’82 they made me responsible for computerizing a major campus. After that, I computerized 10 continuing education center offices and their classroom including connecting them all together. In ’93, they asked me to retire (District needed to down size) but I returned to the classroom as a computer science teacher.

By the way, they started me on Chemo in August, it worked. I am in almost total remission, the cancer mass is gone. I work with my tractors (John Deere 420 with loader and John Deere 325) every day relandscaping my 1/2 acre. I am building a three point, front mounted vacuum, and a few other item as well — nothing comparable to you though.

If you ever get to San Diego, you have to look me up. I have a guest house that is your while you stay.

Leo Frisk

August 2003 Leo asked me what I would call a website if I had one.  I told him I thought harveylacey.com because I did so many different things.  Labor Day weekend 2003 Leo sent me a link to harveylacey.com  The website became his passion.   He would search tractorbynet and the welding forums for posts and pictures from myself.  He would put them up on harveylacey.com.  If you ever went through the old website and wondered why you were only hearing one side of a conversation it was because you were.
A year later we were in the middle of the pond project when Leo’s cancer started acting up again.  Just about every evening after dropping off the help I would dial Leo’s number.  He would what he called ride home with me and we would talk about stuff. 
Sometimes the conversation would be short because of his discomfort.  But a lot of the time we would talk the whole half hour or so drive.  It got to the point where he could tell by the background sounds where I was on the route home.
My last private message from him tractorbynet.com was on the twenty third of December. 
After the past couple of days, I was really to throw in the towel. The radiation treatment yesterday was difficult only in getting on and off of the radiation table as moving from sitting or standing to laying on a flat hard table is PAINFULLLL. Well, today, that changed dramatically. I guess yesterday’s treatment might have made some changes along with the fact that the 7/24 Morphine medication went from 30 Mg three times per day to 60Mg three times per day. It will increase again in the next few days to 100Mg three times per day. They feel if they can control the pain, it will help the emotional pain which in turn will help fight this thing that wants to take over my body. When the pain is not there, there is hope, the eye is many times better and I almost feel human. Lisa has been a Jewell. I do not know how she is able to put up with me or at least my actions when the pain takes over. Sometimes it is only minutes and other times it is hours and I can’t stand to be with me then. The good thing is that our relationship and love for each other has grown faster than the cancer and I am thinking we are going to give this thing one **** of a run for the money.

Do not despair when we send bad news because we are determined the last news will always be better, even good news…

I will hang in there and with a wife like Lisa, a dog like Bruno, friends like you, Glenda and the rest of the folks from TBN along with all of the others, If we don’t beat it, it will know it had some competition.

Leo & Lisa

It was in the middle of February 2006 when we had our last conversation.  Out of many dark days when he couldn’t talk because of the pain we got us a day of clarity and it was almost like the old days of him riding home with me.  It was a short conversation, ten minutes or so, considering we could talk for forty minutes before and still not get it out of our systems. 
Leo died March 3rd 2006.
I flew out to Arizona.  There I rented a car and grabbed my dad for the trip to Leo’s memorial service in San Diego. 
Lisa had asked me to say something if I would at the service.  That night in the hotel room in San Diego I scribbled down some notes to help the next morning.
The place was packed.  And when everyone that wanted to say something was done so were my notes.  There was nothing to say that hadn’t been said a couple of times over.  But there was a common thread running through every memory expressed.
So I stood up and talked about that.  I talked about how Leo had done the same thing to everyone who interacted with him.  It didn’t matter if you were an internet friend who became a real life friend.  It didn’t matter if you were a co-worker, a student, a neighbor, or just someone who wandered into his sphere of influence.  Leo believed in you.
When we think about it that’s the best gift we can give another person.  I’m a better person because Leo believed in me.  In that room full of people that cold and rainy morning in San Diego each one of us knew that his believing in us made us better in some way. 
His obituary in the San Diego Union Tribune

March 9, 2006

Visitation is scheduled from 5 to 9 p.m. today at Featheringill Mortuary, 6322 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego. Services are scheduled for noon tomorrow at the mortuary.


It enabled him to repair and build vehicles, create computer networks and teach automotive and computer classes to community college students.In addition to his wife, survivors include his son, Edward Frisk of Loma Linda; stepson, Christopher Budlong of El Cajon; brothers, Earl Frisk and Irvin Frisk of Blencoe, Iowa; and two granddaughters.

Technical trouble-shooting came as naturally to Leo Frisk as extending a helping hand.From the time he was 13, when he installed an electrical system in his family’s Iowa farmhouse, he showed a mastery of all things mechanical.


“He had the habit of buying junk computers and fixing them for needy students and staff members,” said his wife, Lisa. “He was always out of money because he would help struggling small businesses by installing computer networks in their offices.”

Mr. Frisk, who continued to teach part time after retiring in 2002 from the San Diego Mesa College faculty, died Friday at Palomar Medical Center in Escondido. He was 71.

The cause of death was complications from cancer, his wife said. He had been diagnosed in 2001 with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, which he had kept under control with medication until recently.

“Leo became interested in the field of information science in its early days and amassed an incredible amount of knowledge about all types of computer applications,” said Rita M. Cepeda, Mesa College president. “Colleagues and others who knew him frequently commented on his patience and willingness to share his classroom materials and his special knowledge of computers, which he always did with a smile.”

Mr. Frisk installed some of the first PC networks for the San Diego Community College District. He developed a computer lab at Mesa College from hand-me-down computers and parts and helped obtain a $265,000 grant for the computer lab at Clairemont Continuing Education Center.

“He helped with computers before computer stuff was the thing to do,” said Cheryl Witt, a colleague in the San Diego Community College District. “Whatever you needed help with, he was the kind of person who could do it.”

His duties included training administrators and staff in computer application programs.

Leo William Frisk was born July 3, 1934, on a small family farm in Blencoe, Iowa.

By age 14, he was driving a school bus, volunteering as a firefighter and working for a county-operated irrigation system.

In 1956, he moved to San Diego and worked as a body and fender repairman. He built vehicles from salvaged parts, including a Chevy minivan that lasted 14 years, his wife said.

Mr. Frisk, who earned master’s degrees at San Diego State University and National University, began his career as an educator at the San Diego Skills Center. He became chairman in 1973 of the automotive division at San Diego City College and taught body repair, auto mechanics, and small gas engine and motorcycle repair.

After a six years at UCLA, where he taught teacher training, Mr. Frisk returned to San Diego to become a dean at City College.

He served from 1988 to 1993 as an administrator at Miramar Continuing Education Center and Clairemont Continuing Education Center.

In 1993, he joined the Mesa College faculty, teaching computer information science classes.

Mr. Frisk’s hobbies included collecting John Deere tractors and working on race cars with his sons. “He owned racing Porsches, and a silver Corvette was his trademark for many years,” his wife said.


If you want to read more about our relationship there are a couple of nice threads on tractorbynet.com





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