Best Friends Blog

In Memory of John Fripp

John FrippThe Best Friends family suffered a sad loss yesterday with the passing of my friend and co-founder, John Fripp, following an extended illness. John was 82.

John’s strength, stability and unflappable demeanor naturally placed him at the center of things when times were most difficult and, in the early days of Best Friends, we went through some tough times.

John was the administrative hub of Best Friends until his retirement in 2011. He created our financial system and was our first CFO. He was also our first chairman of the board and led the administrative side of our transition from a founder-run organization to a structure that opened the door to the non-founder leadership that has enabled the organization to grow into a national powerhouse for the animals. He also created and oversaw the Best Friends canyon division, which is responsible for the physical operation of the Sanctuary.

From our founding in 1984 to the mid-1990s, Best Friends operated on the existential edge. For many of those years, it was John who juggled the books and stretched the few dollars we had to pay the mortgage and the bills that fed as many as 1,800 animals, kept the lights on, and put gas in the trucks and food on the common table. If anyone needed money to buy fencing, feed or a garden hose, we went to John in hopes that some would be available.

For many years, as part of our How to Start and Run an Animal Sanctuary workshop series, John offered insight and instruction about the legal and fiscal requirements of running an animal nonprofit.

It is safe to say that Best Friends would not be the organization that it has become if not for the work and commitment of John Fripp.

His background is also pretty fascinating. John came from a prominent British family — real Downton Abbey stuff. His grandfather was surgeon to Queen Victoria’s son, Edward VII, and his son, George V, both of whom became king of England. His father was also a famous surgeon. John has a photo of his infant father being held by Queen Victoria with his grandfather in the background.

John served in the British Army in an artillery unit and he enjoyed telling the story of how, on one occasion, as a young officer, he took a tank for an off-road tour of the Egyptian desert and got it stuck in very deep sand.

John graduated from Oxford University with a degree in history. Based on his education, his family’s position in English society and his own keen intelligence, John could have made his mark in just about any field he chose, but fortunately for Best Friends and the animals, John chose a life in service to a cause.

Like most of the founders, John helped to construct our first animal care buildings, and loved to wield a hammer and drive around in one of our old beat-up pickup trucks. And, like all founders, when the need arose and despite his central role at the Sanctuary, John led early fundraising trips to Los Angeles and San Diego. He spent many hours at a table outside of supermarkets telling people about this no-kill sanctuary in the middle of nowhere and requesting their help in the form of donations for dog and cat food, hay and vaccines. It was an odd sight indeed — a distinguished British gentleman, with a toney upper-class English accent, seated at a card table with photos of Sanctuary animals, hailing down passersby for donations.

I will miss him, Best Friends will miss him, and our movement will be the less for his passing.

Rest in peace, John.

John’s family has requested privacy at this difficult time and asks that friends and acquaintances refrain from calling or visiting.

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Francis Battista
Best Friends Animal Society

  • ricardo

    John Fripp had to be a happy man because he knew what he wanted out of life. To save all animals. MY heatfelt thanks go out to him and condoloscents to his family. I know the pearly gate will be wide open for him.


    Good day! Good news, cheer up!

  • Ann Troy

    One of the people whose work got me involved in animal rescue and support for the cause. I’m so grateful to him and to the intrepid band who came to Angel Canyon so many years ago.

  • Karen

    John was incredibly smart, kind, and funny, three of my favorite characteristics. I’m grateful I got to know him and very sad he’s gone.

  • Don Bruce

    John was such a pleasure to be around and work with. I can still hear that distinguished accent. Love and condolences to all the fine folks there.

  • Cherry Jones

    Thank you for your many years of service to the animals, John. Condolences to your family and many friends. RIP.

  • Stephanie

    Wow, what a life of compassion & service. A true pioneer & a inspiration!

  • I remember meeting him in the ’70s at 1147. His arrival was preceded by much scurrying as if preparing for an inspection, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Turned out he was very personable! Sorry to hear of his passing.

  • Jared Garrett

    John is survived by his wife, Celeste, and his son and family: Matthias, Kamal, and Jehan.

  • Tom Kirshbaum

    Very sorry to hear of John’s death. Whenever I hear the word “class” I think of John. Not in the social sense, though that would also apply, but in the sense of behavior. John was always dignified, welcoming and pleasant. I secretly admired his beautiful, cultured English. Above all, his love of animals shone out. What an extraordinary person! It is an honor to have known him. My condolences to his family and to all at Best Friends.

  • Randall Christensen

    Mr. Fripp blessed so many at Best Friends (both 2 & 4 legged friends), and I can only imagine the welcoming crew that has greeted him as he reunited with so many loved ones (the 2’s and the 4’s)! My condolences for his family and friends and prayers too. Blessings, blessings and more blessings!

  • Debby Widolf

    It never would have been long enough to have you here. Even though we had not seen you in several years, you remained in our thoughts and the good memories we keep of working at Best Friends. Know you would be humble about these words; you will remain our hero, your intelligence, insight, generosity, empathy and always your sense of humor will stay alive in our memory of you. Say hello to all those bunnies at the bridge. Love, Debby & Victor

  • Denise McInerney

    So very sorry to learn of the passing of such an amazing man. There will be many grateful animal friends awaiting this very special Best Friend at the Rainbow Bridge to help escort him along the next part of his journey. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

  • Lucy

    Rip John

  • Kathie Jenni

    What a lovely tribute by Francis Battista. I crossed paths with this inspiring man many times in my time at Best Friends and shared many a shy smile with him, but had no idea of his importance and founding role in the Sanctuary. What a fantastic legacy. Rest in peace among the animal spirits, John Fripp; I honor you and will not forget you.

  • Jacqueline Bedsaul Johnson

    RIP John…you will be sorely missed. My thoughts are with your family today.