Remarks: Lynn Friess

Editor’s note: The following is a transcript of Lynn Friess’s remarks upon receiving the Diana Davis Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award, delivered at the 2023 Annual Awards Gala.

Diana Davis Spencer: Good evening. What an inspiring evening. I am so delighted to be here with so many courageous patriots. Tonight, the Diana Davis Spencer Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates a special patriot who has made a lasting contribution to our country and to the cause of freedom. Lynn Friess embodies the frontier grit and determination that helped build our country. Most of you here tonight know Lynn for her tremendous achievements as a celebrated author and philanthropist. But what I love about Lynn is the journey that she took getting to where she is today. Lynn grew up in a rural farming community in upstate New York. She worked as a grocery store clerk, as an assistant in the Scottsville town library, and even made her own clothes. Her family took camping trips when she was a child, which started her great love for the West. She met her even greater love, her late husband Foster, at the University of Wisconsin, where she was earning her Bachelor of Arts. After they married, Lynn raised four children while helping Foster build Friess Associates, a money management firm that eventually came to have more than 37 billion under management. Forbes and CNBC recognize the firm as the greatest growth stock pickers of the 20th century. Most important, Lynn and Foster celebrated 50 years of marriage. She has written five children’s books about wildlife and the West, winning numerous awards, including Western Lullaby, which won the National Children’s Book Award. In 2020, President Trump appointed Lynn to serve on the board of the Kennedy Center for the Arts. For over 30 years, Lynn has been involved with the West. She was the co-chair of the Wyoming Business Council and served as the Chairman of the Board of the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Wyoming, Jackson. Lynn serves also on the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Board, where she was the first woman in over 50 years of the museum to be the chair. One of the biggest achievements there was she helped establish the Annie Oakley Society to promote women’s history in the West. Lynn is currently helping to build a new campus, the Jackson Hole Classical Academy, a private K-through-12 school whose mission is to cultivate wisdom and virtue in students so they may discover and fulfill their potential and contribute to a flourishing and free society. Lynn does all of this while remaining an involved parent and grandmother to 15 grandchildren. She is a dedicated warrior on behalf of the cause of liberty and our great country. That’s why it’s my distinct honor to give this year’s Diana Davis Spencer award to Lynn Friess.

Lynn Friess: Well, I brought crystal heels to wear. My dress was too long, so here I am in my cowboy boots. Thank you, Diana. I am really deeply honored to stand before you today as the recipient of this wonderful lifetime achievement award named after Diana. You know, this recognition means the world to me. Usually, I was standing behind my husband while he was receiving awards, and this is the first time, so I’m a little shaky here. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Independent Women’s Forum, Diana, and all of you who support this amazing, amazing group and the organization. I’m humbled to receive this award that bears the name of someone as remarkable as Diana. You know, Diana, you’ve dedicated your life to championing the values that form the bedrock of our nation, from freedom to entrepreneurship. I am truly privileged to stand alongside you in receiving this honor. The Independent Women’s Forum since its founding has been a tireless advocate for women’s rights, standing for principled conservatism and promoting a modern, emphatic, and solution-oriented approach to the challenges we face as a society. That’s an important word, solution-oriented. You know, women are about solving problems. We have a lot to do. Our time cannot be wasted. Early in my life, I read a book about a young girl growing up in the state of Ohio. She was a determined young miss. At seven, her dad taught her to shoot a rifle and put it over the top of the fireplace. At eight, her father died, and she slowly watched her family begin to be very, very hungry. And her mom wouldn’t let her pick up the rifle to go out and shoot. “I can shoot, mom,” she said, and her mom kept saying no. And finally, as things got really dire, she picked up that rifle, and she went out, and she shot a lot of animals and fed the family. She began to do amazing things by hunting and providing food for inns in the area. And wonders of wonders, at 12 years old she paid off the mortgage on her mother’s log cabin and started a journey in her life. That was Annie Oakley, who had a journey as an inspiring—she was just an inspired person, and showed the strength of women who, against all odds, persevere, excel, and solve problems. Her journey reminds us of how far women have come and highlights why, now more than ever, IWF’s important work, especially as some people are trying to redefine the very definition of a woman. Little did I know when I was a 24-year-old mom, sewing my own clothes, as Diana said, and my children’s; baking mysterious casseroles; and stressing with my husband Foster over spending $300 on the new IBM typewriters for client reports, that one day I would be standing here accepting a lifetime award. Kudos to IWF for fighting for American women. Hats off. Hats off to Diana who champions values that form the foundations of our nation. Thank you, happy trails, and God bless America.