Phil Brigandi, Orange County Historian, passed away Dec. 12 at the hospital in which he was born, St. Joseph Hospital in Orange. He was just 60.
Phil, always interested in local history, graduated from Orange High and joined the board of the Orange Community Historical Society at age 19. He then received his degree in history from California State University, Fullerton and joined the board of the Orange County Historical Commission.
In 1990, he became Museum Curator for the Ramona Pageant in Hemet, California, a position he held for 13 years.
Phil returned to Orange County in 2003 to become the first Orange County archivist after the county’s bankruptcy. He had earned the Eagle Scout award as a youth, had written a book about Boy Scouting in Orange County, and became a fixture at the Schoepe Scout Reservation at Lost Valley Boy Scout Camp, volunteering there each summer for over 30 years.
Phil published his first book on Orange history at age 23, and continued to chronicle the local history of Orange, Temecula, Riverside and San Diego for the rest of his life, crafting several dozen books and countless articles. He enjoyed interviewing longtime residents, meticulously researching local lore and sharing his stories.
Brigandi suffered a heart attack on Sunday, and died from complications just four days later. When he was missed that Thursday evening at the Orange County Historical Society meeting, members went to look for him, and were shocked to discover he had passed.
Phil never married and leaves two brothers. A memorial will be held by the Historical Society on the evening of Jan. 9; funeral services will be at Fairhaven Memorial Park on Jan. 29. He will be sorely missed.