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Harry Histen, Riverside estate lawyer and former bar association president, died Oct. 11, at the age of 79.

Before the law

Histen was born Sept. 19, 1942, in St. Louis, Missouri. He achieved a Bachelor of Arts in math from California State University in Los Angeles in 1966, and then worked for the Apollo Program, the Space Shuttle program and the GPS system between 1966 and 1977 as an employee at Rockwell International Corp., mainly dealing with computers, according to his online resume

“It’s not rocket science, and I would know,” Histen would sometimes joke about his background, according to friend and lawyer Robin Lewis. 

He attended night school while he was at Rockwell, and achieved a Juris Doctor from the Western State University College of Law, and a Master of Science in taxation from Golden Gate University in 1991. 

The state bar admitted Histen in 1977, and he promptly joined the Riverside County Bar Association and opened his practice the same year.

As a lawyer

In the same office building as Histen, in 1993, was freshly licensed lawyer David Bristow. 

“Harry was a sort of a quintessential sole practitioner,” said Bristow. Histen would represent a wide range of underdogs and the small businesses around town, including a pool hall, an optometrist and a mine owner, said Bristow.

“He was a phenomenal human being and a real asset to the practice of law,” Bristow said. 

Histen worked hard for his clients, said James Heiting, RCBA president 1995-‘96.

“Harry was a very intelligent lawyer who really cared about his clients,” said Heiting, who later served with Histen on the Dispute Resolution Service Mediation Board. 

Histen was humorous, a gentleman and a quality lawyer, said Heiting.

As a caring friend

Histen would help other lawyers when he heard they were going through tough times, remembered Robin Lewis, RCBA president 2011-’12.

When RCBA President Aurora Hughes was suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, Lewis remembered Histen reaching out to Hughes, and taking up some of her work.

When Lewis’ daughter died, Histen was the first to reach out and offer his help, even offering to take court appearances if Lewis needed him to.

“Harry was a dear friend. I’m very sad that we lost him,” said Lewis.

When Bristow was due to start work at the San Bernardino County District Attorney’s office, Histen came straight over to Bristow’s office, and inquired if the news he had heard was true.

Bristow confirmed it, and Histen pulled a 3×5 card out of his back pocket, handing it to Bristow, then walked straight out. 

“Cops lie,” the card said. Bristow’s kept it since.

As RCBA President

Histen had a lot to offer, so Bristow, who was RCBA president 2005-’06, advised him to get involved in the bar association, which he did, first as a board member.

As president in 2009, Histen brought a solo practitioner background that focused the bar association on improving its value to smaller firms, said Bristow.

He wanted to make the bar affordable for everyone, and worked to reinvigorate the 115-year-old organization by helping the struggling, small firms, said Lewis. 


“Harry was a wonderful family man who put his family first,” said Brian Pearcy, RCBA president 2002-’03.

Histen is survived by his wife Sherise; her daughter Sahdia Ayuso; his children Derek, Kerry and adopted daughter Stefanie Ellie; granddaughter Chloe Blood; sisters Jeanne Brown (and husband Alex) and Eileen; brother Tom; nieces Dawn Histen Abbott, Kim Histen Robinson, Ronda Ramey; nephews Michael, Tim, Gordon (and wife Amanda) and Greg Brown (and wife Juliana), according to a family obituary.

The Riverside County Bar Association’s next edition of “Riverside Lawyer” will pay honor to Histen.


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