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Ten Bells and a Twinkle in the Eye Frank Manwarren:
In Memoriam
1920 to 2010

Frank Manwarren, who would have been 90 this coming June, died January 23rd, 2010. He will be missed by more people than it is possible to count.

Oxford Garden
Cost of Wisconsin
Big Toys
Professional Trade Publications
Boulderscape Todd Valley Farms
Teak Warehouse Valmont
John Deere Playworld
BCI Burke Company Belgard

In addition to being a dedicated, professional, hilarious, courageous firefighter for the Los Angeles City Fire Department, he was also a designer, contractor, waterscape creator, public safety servant and photographer.

Says David Barrett, "During World War II, he spent two years in China, with the U.S. Army Signal Corps and developed two interests that would follow him for the rest of his life: photography and waterway landscapes.

"While in China, Frank was in the midst of misery. Soldiers were not only dying in combat, but falling to illness, including dysentery and malnutrition. Yet, in the midst of the horror of war, Frank noted that China was home to some of the most remarkable and beautiful rivers and waterscapes. He captured many images with his camera in China, including both combat imagery and the remarkable beauty found throughout the country.

"When he returned to the United States in 1946, he was accepted as a fireman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. At the same time, his interest in water and water-based monuments continued to evolve. Along with several of his friends, he began to construct water sculptures and monuments. In 1961, Frank earned his general contractor's license and soon thereafter, built a three-acre lake and island for Bush Gardens in
Northridge, California.

"From that point forward, Frank had two careers: his firefighting career and his landscape waterway career. His waterway career included using all forms of construction techniques, and his work is noted around the world. Some of his projects have included the Japanese Pavilion at Disney World/Epcot Park, Nine miles of shoreline along the lake in Westlake Village, The Lakes in Tempe, Arizona, and the lake in Laguna Niguel, California.

He also created a series of natural habitats for zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, Fresno Zoo, and the Denver Zoo. Frank even went wild with water rides, including those for Astroworld Six Flags, Magic Mountain Six Flags, Six Flags over New Jersey and Opryland in Nashville, Tennessee. Frank also worked with hotels and floral gardens, and one of his favorite projects was building a floral garden in Taipei, for the Taiwan Republic of China."

Paul Comstock, ASLA, of Comstock Studio and Valley Crest Design Group, said of Frank, "From my earliest years, this big hearted man was always in the background for every pivotal moment of my life. He taught me how to set up and build my first water feature at the Los Angeles Arboretum Show before I was even formally in the business. That design got the cover of the Los Angeles Times and ultimately, with Frank's help, tons of customers. He pointed me towards a degree in Landscape Architecture as well, and has always been so supportive of me and my work."

George Schmok, publisher of this magazine says, "I first met Frank at my very first industry event. Frank bought me a beer and began the first of countless stories about his exciting and full life, always with a twinkle in his eye. That twinkle said that he had enjoyed one of the most fulfilling lives of anyone I have ever met. From world travels building rock and water features, to the accomplishments of his son in following his footsteps, Frank always had a kind word for almost everyone. He loved his wife Dottie, his son David and his daughter Donna, the apple of his eye.

"There are so many stories and remembrances that to list them all would take another lifetime. Frank will be missed, he will always hold a spot on the masthead of our magazines and will definitely hold a spot in the hearts and minds of me, my wife and kids, and the staff of LASN."

Stone sculptor and stone sculptural waterfall designer Yoshikawa says, "Frank was the personification of a rascal, and for me, that is the highest tribute you could pay to a person. Either you love Frank or you thought he was a 'piece of work.' For myself, whenever I needed help, Frank was always there. He was a true friend."

As one of Frank's dear friends put it, and we and all his other dear friends agree, "He had a wonderful sense of mischief and a great smile. How lucky we are to have known him."

For more on Frank Manwarren, go to

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June 26, 2019, 12:07 pm PDT

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