Ed Friend, the soldier, served in North Africa, participated in the invasion of Sicily, and then landed on Utah Beach on June 7, 1944, the day after D-day. He took part in the capture of Cherbourg, the breakthrough at St. Lo, the Battle of the Bulge, and the invasion of Germany. Friend received the Legion of Merit, the Croix de Guerre, and the European Campaign Ribbon with seven battle stars. After he was released from active duty with the rank of colonel he continued his military service in the Army Reserve and the Alabama National Guard, retiring with the rank of major general.
Following World War II Friend returned to Birmingham to practice law and he co-founded the firm now known as Sirote & Permutt. He was an expert in the fields of tax law and corporate and estate planning. General Friend was an outstanding lawyer but he is most fondly remembered for being an outstanding humanitarian.
Early in his career he founded, organized, and served as the first president of the Birmingham Legal Aid Society. He espoused improving race relations and worked tirelessly to that end. As president of the Birmingham Bar Association he publicly adopted as his goal the admission of black attorneys to that segregated organization. He served as president of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, the Family Counseling Association, the Birmingham Area Council of Boy Scouts, the Downtown Rotary Club, the Metropolitan Arts Council, and the 1982 Birmingham United Way Campaign.
General Friend was an unwavering supporter of the University of Alabama School of Law. He was an early organizer and president of the Law School Foundation and a co-founder of the Farrah Law Society. He devoted countless hours to fundraising for his alma mater.
As stated by Mason Davis in his nominating letter, “General friend knew instinctively what was fair, just, and honorable; he was a great role model who brought great dignity and civility to the profession he loved. He did the right things for the right reasons”.