Revised 6 Jun 2017

Harold Rodney Raasch 

22 August 1919 to 4 February 2004  


Harold dedicated his life to God and his Church.  He served on just about every Board and Committee at First Church at one point or another and loved the Cathedral Choir, in which he sang for many years, and now he sings with the angels 

One of Harold's most endearing qualities was his warmth and laughter.  He was a no-nonsense person when it came to dealing with the business at hand but he was quick to give help when help was needed.  He was greatly cherished and he will be sorely missed.   To all of you who knew Harold Best--Goodbye and God Bless

Jean Raleigh. (died 14 December 2013. Although I did not know Jean well, we were of an age. She had been a member for several years.

Addison W. Richards (Born June 28, 1856 - Watertown, Ohio)  Mr. Addison was the son of thomas E. and Sarah (Hughes) Richards).  His area of expertise was in real estate.  He married Lottie R. Buck in 1880.  Mr. Richards was educated at Beverly college, Beverly, Ohio.  He was a Junior partner in the firm of T. E. Richard and Son of Zanesville, Ohio from 1873 - 1898.  He became the head of the firm in 1898 and conduced a wholesale and retail crockery and wallpaper business under his own name until his move to California in 1903.  He moved to Pomona, California and engaged in the orange growing business from 1904 - 1909, at which time, he began working in real estate.  he was prominently identified with public interests within his community upon arriving in California.  He was president of the Pomona Fixture & Wiring company of Pomona; President of the Claremont Co-operative Water Company and Board of Trade in Claremont, and a Congregationalist.

Charles Edward Richards (1859 - June 1942) Founder and President of the Construction Company of Richards-Neustadt Co.  Born in Keene, New Hampshire, Mr. Richards moved to Riverside, California, in 1889, where he engaged in the citrus industry for the next 10 years after which, he moved to Los Angeles.  Among the buildings constructed by this firm were the Henry E. Huntington home, the Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, the Pacific Mutual Building, Orthopedic Hospital and the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.

Mr. Richards joined First Church in 1889 and during his many years of membership, served as Chairman of the 75th Anniversary Committee and as a Trustee.  He was a member of the Harbor Commission for two years, President of the University Club in 1912 and President of the Home Society of California for 20 years.

Mrs. Dorothy E. Richards of Los Angeles, California, formerly of New Jersey, (died  July 27, 1999)   was an executive secretary at Mobile Oil in California before retiring 15 years ago. Earlier, she had worked at Prudential and Hess Oil in Newark. Mrs. Richards was a member of the Women's Bible Group at the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles.  Born in Belleville, Mrs. Richards lived in Westfield before moving to Los Angeles in about 1958.

Leslie Richardson

1941  -  2002

So very many people were touched by Leslie.  She was so unassuming.  Everyone else knew what an unusual gift she brought to all.

Leslie Richardson was an active partner in a prominent advertising agency here in Los Angeles and greatly respected in her field.  So  well respected was she in her field that on her passing, cards were received from all over the world that were overflowing with words of love and respect for her achievements.

Just an aside from her memorial book that I had to include.  When Leslie was a child, she was asked to be a model for one of Norman Rockwell's illustrations.  She told Mr. Rockwell she wasn't allowed to talk to strangers.  If you saw her adorable baby picture, you would easily  to see how she was chosen. 

Leslie was an active supporter of the Pilgrim School.  Contributions in her memory can be made through the the school in the name of the Leslie Richardson Memorial Scholarship Fund.  

Leslie was always willing to lend a hand where needed and First Church was one of her many projects, but for her, they were not jobs, they were gifts of love.  She will be  greatly missed by her many friends and most of all, by her family by whom she was obviously adored.

Charles R. Root, (30 January 1863, Grass Valley, California to June 1935.  Mr. Root was a paint manufacturing pioneer.  He entered the employ of the W. P. fuller Company at the age of 16.  he continued in their employ until his retirement in 1922, by which time he had attained the position of Manager of the Southern District.  Upon his retirement, he was given a year's round the world trip.  upon his return, he became a company director.  Mr. Root was a charter member of the Los Angeles Paint, Varnish and Lacquer Association.
Harriette Rowe
John A Rundall - died 2017. John is best remembered by all who knew him for his tireless and dedicated loyalty to First Church. John served as a Deacon for many years, worked his way through several boards and committees, but is best known for his wonderful work with Chuck and Mike's, a sometimes Sunday gathering in the Amanda Scott room, in which John and his friends cooked for the crowd and served it all up with a generous helping of laughter and broad smiles. John and his partner Chuck frequently hosted our meetings at their beautiful and peaceful home in the Hollywood Hills. John was preceded in death by his beloved life mate, Chuck. He was a kind and gentle man and unquestionably a gentleman at all times. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.
Miss Genevieve Russell - died May 1937.  Miss Russell was former secretary of the First Congregational Church.
tom tom tom

Thomas Hunter Russell - 6 September 1940 - 8 February 2012.

Tom was my dearest friend in the entire world. I first met Tom back in 1966 when I came to First Church to audition for a soloist job. I did not get the job, but Tom made me feel at home.

The Tom I knew


Tom was born 6 September, 1940, in Ventura, Ventura California, the son of Gwendolyn (Jones) Russell and Leo Hunter Russell. He grew up in Bakersfield, California. He often spoke of his beloved grandfather, Elmer Jones, who lived in Ventura.

Tom told me that he was diagnosed as a young child with a heart murmur. It disappeared for a brief time, then returned a couple of years later. He suffered from heart problems most of his life, but he never let it get in his way.

Tom's greatest love was his music. He studied throughout his high school years and in 1959, received an organ scholarship from the Kern County Chapter of the American Guild of Organists as well as a scholarship from Chapman College. During this time, he served as organist for St. Mark's Methodist Church in Bakersfield and served as organist for a weekly religious broadcast group.

After graduation from North High School in Bakersfield, Tom briefly attended Bakersfield College, and then went on to attend Chapman College. After graduation from Chapman, he moved on to the University of Southern California, where he received his Bachelor's and Doctoral Degrees in law. Tom was admitted to the California State Bar in June of 1965 and opened his practice in Los Angeles, California, which practice he continued to operate until his retirement in 2009. A gifted trial lawyer, Tom was an advocate for fairness and frequently took on civil rights cases pro bono to assist those who could not assist themselves. Tom's law practice operated primarily in the Hollywood area. He was preceded in death by his law partner, Robert Wynn.

Tom had many gifts that he shared with others throughout his life, one of which was his knowledge of accounting and investment practices. In the 1960's, Tom met the charismatic Dr. James Wendell Holmes Fifield, then Sr. Minister of the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles and his path in life was set. From that time forward, Tom became a dedicated member of First Church, serving on practically every Board and Committee of the Church, including the legal and insurance committee and frequently, as Chair of the Board of Trustees. Tom worked directly with Dr. Fifield on many issues, chairing the somewhat controversial Freedom Club, and acting as assistant organist and choir member. As a great lover of the Great Organs of First Church, Tom helped to direct many of the expansion projects of this wonderful instrument, including the installation of the Frank C Noon organs in the rear balcony and the Holzgraf Trumpets in the front and rear of the church. When the Northridge Earthquake struck these organs were in a state of refurbishing. Tom was the first person to arrive at the church and to take measures to protect the building and inspect the damages. It was under his direction that the huge finials were removed from the tower, they having undergone severe damage from the quake and aftershocks.

Tom was quietly generous to his friends, helping them on many occasions without a word. On one occasion, he discovered that a man in the choir had lost his job and had holes in his shoes which were stuffed with newspaper to protect his feet. Tom immediately took the man out and bought him new shoes and a suit so the man could go out and find another job. He helped the people he loved and he loved a good many people, receiving their love and devotion in return.

In the 1980s, Tom helped establish "Friends of the Los Angeles Bach Festival", a non-profit group that was a fund-raising arm of the festival. The Bach festival was one of his favorite projects, having been in existence since 1934. Tom also helped found the First Church Organ Concert Series, which worked in conjunction with the local Organ Guild to secure artists of world-wide fame to display the great organs in all their glory.

Active in Civil Affairs, Tom served as A commissioner on the Los Angeles City-County Consolidation committee where he worked pro bono in the efforts to seek new ways of making government more efficient and less costly to the Taxpayers. He ran for office of State Senator of the 23rd District as a Republican candidate, but did not succeed. He was, however, extremely active in politics throughout his life. He also enjoyed membership in the Freemasons and loved attending the local Glendale Breakfast Club's social gatherings.

Tom was survived by his sister, Gloria and other family members, several God-sons and his many friends, all who loved him dearly.