Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to include comments from Bart Moore.
Three new names will be added to the city’s Wall of Recognition after the City Council last week approved the list of recommended individuals who have contributed years of service to the town of San Juan Capistrano.
Residents Donna Friess, Bart Moore and Tom Scott were selected by the council in a unanimous vote on Nov. 7 to be included in the Wall of Recognition that’s located within the San Juan Capistrano Community Center.
The city plans to hold an unveiling ceremony at the community center in January, after the new Council Chambers are constructed.
The Wall of Recognition program, which was created by the City Council, is meant “to honor those individuals whose service to the community has made the City of San Juan Capistrano a more productive and enjoyable place to live, work and visit,” according to the city.
Last year’s slate of honorees included equestrian Julie Ryan Johnson, Cultural Heritage Commissioner Ann Ronan, and local volunteer Gerald “Jerry” Muir.
Friess is a former college professor and local author who in 2018 published a 250-page book about the town’s rich equestrian history, Capistrano Trails, Ride for the Brand. In 2020, she also published another book recounting her experiences growing up in the California beach town of Venice in the 1940s called Growing Up Venice: Parallel Universes.
“I am very thrilled that the City of San Juan Capistano and my neighbors would think that my efforts as a volunteer were worth recognizing,” Friess said. “So I would say that I am very grateful and happy.”
For nearly a decade, Friess facilitated a grief and support group for those who have lost loved ones. She’s also volunteered as a docent for the past seven years at the Mission, where she gets to lead groups of kids on field trips.
“It was very powerful as a way to give back,” Friess said of her volunteer efforts.
Speaking on Scott’s behalf, Beverly Blake, who’s worked with Scott for about 20 years at the Playhouse as both a volunteer and now executive producer, said he was delighted after both Councilmember John Campbell and Mayor Howard Hart called to deliver the news that he’s being inducted.
“And he got, I think, about 150 responses on Facebook, saying how much he deserved it,” recalled Blake.
“He was the true community in the community theater, and he would loan things to any of the organizations in town, whatever they needed,” Blake said of Scott, adding: “He’s always just really been involved in the town and helping in any way he can. People always felt comfortable asking Tom for things, because they knew they’d get help.”
Campbell, along with Mayor Pro Tem Sergio Farias, comprised the city’s subcommittee tasked with reviewing the slate of nominations for the Wall of Recognition. During last week’s council meeting, Campbell called the Playhouse “an asset that’s served our community well.”
“It’s something that we’re well-known in our community for, for over three decades,” Campbell noted as he recommended that Scott be included in the list of inductees. “I feel that Tom Scott is really a worthy candidate for the Wall of Recognition.”
Moore has been a longtime member of the San Juan Capistrano Historical Society’s board, currently serving as its treasurer. He’s also volunteered his time working with other groups such as the Fiesta Association and the local Rotary Club.
“It’s such an honor to even be considered … this one came right out of left field somewhere,” he said, Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 15. “I just never expected it. It’s very much an honor.”
As Orange County Register reported in 2012, Moore donated the $2,000 needed for the Historical Society to purchase the time capsule that was filled with soon-to-be artifacts and buried in front of the O’Neill Museum in the historic Los Rios District.
“I just felt it was something that was very important to do on our property, on Historical Society property,” Moore recalled of the time capsule project, adding, “I just said fine I’ll give the money for it so it gets done.”
Asked what has motivated him to want to volunteer around town, Moore, an acoustical contractor who owns Fabric Wallcraft and the Bartley Group, said he felt somethings just need to get done and he’s willing to donate his time to help.
“For me, I got married at the mission, had our children at Mission Hospital, I said, ‘you can just bury me in San Juan,’” Moore said, adding, “It was just out of my own heart, I know that some things needed to get done and I knew there were something I needed to do.”
“I feel majorly honored and I can’t figure out why they did it to me,” Moore later joked about his nomination for the Wall of Recognition. “I’ve been very, very happy about it. My family is over the top excited about it, about the nomination and being accepted.”