One of the more nationally known and respected attorneys of his time was born July 23, 1876, in the log cabin post office at Bethany (Portis), Osborne County, Kansas. Fred Ephriam Lindley was the son of Joseph and Lavina (Laman) Lindley. He attended school in Bethany and helped with the work on the family farm. When he was seventeen Fred became a schoolteacher and farmer, teaching at area one-room rural schools and in larger towns over the next eleven years. He spent the 1896-97 school year as a student at Emporia (Kansas) State Normal School and from 1905 through 1909 he served as principal of the high school in Gove, Kansas.
On June 20, 1909, Fred married Alma Laura Ise in Lawrence, Kansas. The couple had four children, Laura, Edward, Mary, and Ruth. After their marriage Fred and Alma moved to Chicago, Illinois, where Fred enrolled in the University of Chicago Law School. He graduated in 1911 and opened a practice in Chicago. After a year there Fred moved his family to San Diego, California, where Fred formed a law partnership with a former law school classmate, Robert Hamilton, that lasted twenty-five years. They supplemented their income those first years by operating an evening law school adjacent to their own offices, which lasted until World War I and the depletion of their student body forced it to close.
Following World War I Fred helped organize the Law Institute of San Diego, one of the first incorporated bar associations in the United States. In 1919 he was elected to a two-year term in the California State Assembly, where he sponsored and supported legislation making formal legal training mandatory for practicing attorneys, a concept that was soon adopted across the country. He helped organize the State Bar of California, serving later on the Committee of Bar Examiners and as a member of the Bar’s board of governors. He became a member of the San Diego County Probation Committee and assisted in the development of new detention centers in the county. In 1939 Fred became president of the San Diego County Farm Bureau.
Fred maintained a citrus ranch near Escondido, California, and he soon became a specialist in agricultural law and marketing cooperatives. He served on several San Diego County Cooperative Sunkist associations and as a legal advisor to many agricultural cooperative corporations during the 1930s and 1940s. He became a director of the Security Trust and Savings Bank in San Diego and was board chairman after 1945. In the 1940s Fred held a membership on the San Diego Board of Education for ten years, and served as its president in 1948.
Fred celebrated his eightieth birthday in 1956 and officially retired from active practice after forty-five years as an attorney. He continued to be busy with memberships in the Elks Lodge, Masonic Lodge, the San Diego Farm Bureau, and the San Diego Athletic Club. He helped to form Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego during the 1950s and he remained a senior partner of the law firm of Lindley, Scales, and Patton until he stepped down in 1967. Two years later the American Bar Association honored him not only for his fifty years of membership but also for his lifelong efforts to improve professional standards in the legal field. His impact on California and San Diego County can be seen from the eleven books published between 1919 and 1955 that contain biographical sketches of this prominent citizen.
Fred Lindley died December 21, 1971, in San Diego, where his remains were cremated and placed in the Greenwood Mausoleum there. Osborne County can be proud of the accomplishments of this native son.