In a postwar public high school near Coney Island, with no funding and no help, Mr. Friend (he was always Mr. Friend) formed a community of art students.
He started the “Art Squad.” It was, in the best sense of the word, an elite group. If you were hard-working and stood out in your art classes, you might be lucky enough to be asked to join. That gave you further impetus to climb over an eight-foot-high spiked steel fence in order to get into the school at 7:00 a.m., and do it again at 7:00 p.m.
What motivated all this? Mr. Friend taught by stretching not just your knowledge, but your expectations, your standards of excellence, and you.
He changed my life more than anyone I’ve known. He opened my eyes. He made me understand that work could be joy. He demanded your best. He respected you. He called everyone Mr. or Miss.
I know I speak for all of us who knew him when I say: Thank you, Mr. Friend.
- Jay Maisel, Brooklyn, NY