There are many notable days throughout each year, whether holidays or not. One of them, August 9, is best remembered for the signing of Japan’s unconditional surrender to the United States to end World War II. While this special day enjoys other notable events, one of the less notable occurred in 1930 when, at 3:37 a.m., a midwife, working in the Barber family residence in Alameda, California, ushered Master Bruce Ferguson Barber into the world.
Owing to the fact that his father was a Construction Engineer, Bruce attended a variety of schools in such places as Alameda, Berkeley, San Rafael and Hermosa Beach, California, plus Mesa, Globe, Tucson and Yuma, Arizona. Then, being accustomed to moving, he enlisted in the United States Navy, attended colleges and universities in Toms River, New Jersey; Pensacola, Florida; Guelph, Ontario, Canada; and San Jose, California.
A catapult specialist for the Navy (he worked on every type of catapult the Navy had between 1948 and 1975), he was commissioned in ‘62 and retired in ‘74 with the permanent rank of Lieutenant Commander. Having spent seven tours of duty in aircraft carriers, he spent two at the Naval Aeronautical Engineering Center (in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Lakehurst, New Jersey) and two others at the Naval Air Technical Training Centers (also in “Philly” and Lakehurst) where he subsequently became Commanding Officer of the Aircraft Launching and Recovery Equipment Schools.
Married in 1958 to Alfreda Teresa Danoski of Scranton, Pennsylvania, their children include “Judi,” a Los Angeles lawyer and mother of five, and “Pam,” a Pennsylvania housewife and mother of two. Whereas Bruce brings the outdoors into their home, Freda has, for the past 55 years, filled their home with odors of incomparable foods although she was mother, father, doctor and lawyer (plus every other required position) to their children during his 16 years at sea.
Shortly after retirement from the Navy, he landed a position with a California company that, in 1978, merged with the Sysco Corporation of Houston, Texas (the world’s largest institutional food distributor) for whom Bruce became Director, Maintenance Operations, Western Region. In 1985, however, when an old knee problem raised its ugly head, he and Freda severed their relations with Metropolis to settle in San Felipe, Baja California.
During his first tour of duty in Philadelphia, he was asked to review and revise a variety of technical publications, a task that presented him with his first professional writing experience. Later, in retirement, it was that experience that enabled his freelance writing. To date, he’s been published by a variety of Southwestern newspapers and magazines (including two of his own) that have garnered him a respectable following of readers.
During childhood years in Tucson and Yuma, he discovered a fondness for the desert. Although his experiences include exploration of selected portions of the Chihuahua, Sonora, Altar and San Felipe Deserts, each presented him with a unique and magnificent variety of geological and archeological histories.
Speaking of history, he spent five dedicated years chasing the first European to set foot on local terrain before (here’s that knee again) deferring the project to others.
Home is the sailor, home from the sea. Home again, home again from the desert came he. A couple of years later, while devoting more time to writing and less to exploration, he was invited to join the nucleus of what became the San Felipe Association of Retired Persons. Accepting the invitation reluctantly, he became the Association’s Director of Activities and, ultimately, President.
Bruce had a boss a few years back who believed, “If you want something done, give it to a busy man.” I asked Freda what he does around the house and heard first-hand about a busy man named Bruce Ferguson Barber… a Maintenance Management Engineer, an explorer, a freelance writer and, time permitting, husband, father and grandfather.