Dr. Clyde Cook
Dr. Clyde Cook has generously donated the funds to establish the Lorin Griset Endowed Scholarship.
Lorin Griset was born in 1919, into a pioneering Orange County family. His father, Eugene Griset, had emigrated from France, moving from Missouri to Orange County in 1898 because he heard the farming was good. The Griset family farm grew lima beans in unincorporated Santa Ana Gardens.
Eugene Griset was an early member of Santa Ana’s Calvary Church when Lorin was a teenager, and it became an important place to the family for two generations. But Lorin Griset knew he didn’t want a lifetime of hard labor on the farm. Instead, he went to UCLA after graduating from high school in 1936. Though he grew up attending church, Griset said he went through a period of doubt at UCLA, “I kind of embraced the consenting adults philosophy. I had a lot of hang-ups about Christianity. I couldn’t understand why God would require faith in Jesus Christ.” But his outlook began to change after meeting Christians on campus who surprised him with their intelligence, diversity, and enthusiasm.
With the nation on the brink of World War II, he joined the ROTC. On an extended trip to Indiana, he met and married Dorothy Daniel. Their children said their parents had a lifelong romance that reminded them of the one between Ronald and Nancy Reagan, “Every year, on her birthday, my dad would write a poem or a love song for her,” son Brian Griset said. Their children remembered him as an outgoing, gregarious person who mentored others but kept his private feelings to himself.
After being sent to Europe as a second lieutenant in the Army, Griset was taken prisoner by a German Panzer division and sent to the infamous Stalag XII POW camp in Limburg, Germany. He remembered being transferred out of the barracks shortly before a bomb blew it up, as well as a hellish trip in a boxcar to Poland with 12 men sharing a loaf of bread. He felt intense hatred for the Germans and wrested with Jesus’ command to love one’s enemies. He was liberated on April 29, 1945. His experiences were so life-altering that he later published a pamphlet which he shared with anyone he hoped to interest in his Christian faith.
On returning home to Santa Ana, Griset bought part of a surplus Army Barracks building and turned it into the family home in which he and Dorothy would raise six children. He opened a life insurance office and founded the Santa Ana Christian Business Men’s Committee, which met every Tuesday morning for breakfast. He was trustee of Biola University and chairman of the 1969 Billy Graham Crusade, and he didn’t believe in keeping his light under a bushel.
Lorin became mayor of Santa Ana in 1969, during a turbulent period when the city was in transition from an agricultural to a modern urban city. In 1973 he presented then-president Nixon with a commemorative plaque and was invited to attend the launch of a moon mission at Cape Canaveral in 1969. After retiring from the insurance business, he devoted more time to his love of golf and was proud when the Santa Ana Unified School District decided to name a school after him.
In 2003, Lorin Griset was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. He died of natural causes Friday night, March 31, 2006. The family invited Dr. Clyde Cook, president of Biola University, to speak at the memorial service the next Friday morning.