Bruce Freeman Bunker(1924 - 2009)

Bruce Freeman Bunker was born on December 10, 1924, in Porterville, California. He enjoyed life tremendously, always looking forward to each new day as a gift to be unwrapped and savored. A resident of Bakersfield, California for 58 years, Bruce slipped away gently on June 24, 2009, surrounded by the family he loved dearly. A memorial service in celebration of his life is scheduled at 2:00 p.m., Tuesday, June 30, 2009, at Hillcrest Memorial Park Chapel. Bruce was predeceased by his parents, Beulan Bunker and Clara Bunker, as well as an infant son, Charles Bunker. He will be greatly missed by those who loved him deeply in return: his wife of over 60 years, Betty Bunker; daughters, Suzanne Bunker-Kishimoto, Carolyn Bunker, and Robin Bishop; son-in-law, Bill Bishop; grandchildren Mary Bishop Amaral, Abbigail Bishop Brown and Sereno Brown, Billy Bishop, Alisa Bishop Chase and Travis Chase, Mari Kishimoto, Andrew Kishimoto; great grandchildren Katie Amaral, Joey Amaral and Madeleine Brown. He is also survived by his sister, Marthellen Petersen; brother Rodney Bunker and wife Marie; cousin, Diane Barkey and husband Ralph; and sister-in-law Anna Lee Letsinger and husband Jerry, as well as numerous nieces, nephews and other cousins. Bruce attended Porterville Union High School, graduating in the class of 1941. After high school he served honorably as a member of the United States Army stationed in both the United States and Europe during World War II. His unit was part of Patton's Third Army, moving through France into Germany. He seldom spoke of the harsh trials of war, of which there were many, but rather focused on the beauty of the countryside and the fascinating cultures he observed. His life-long interest in travel no doubt began in military trenches and ended in exciting journeys throughout the United States and abroad. As a returning G.I., Bruce attended Porterville College and the University of Southern California School of Law, receiving his Juris Doctorate in 1950. He practiced law in Bakersfield, California for 58 years, beginning his career as an associate for Burum, Young & Wooldridge. He became a deputy district attorney for Kern County in 1952, but moved into private practice in 1955, eventually forming the long-standing partnership of Bradley, Wagy, Bunker & Hislop. As law firms do, partners gradually changed over time and he had the privilege of working with and mentoring a number of outstanding attorneys. Bruce specialized in civil litigation, business and estate planning, real property and natural resources law. He was an expert consultant in real estate and contract law, attorney compensation, attorney malpractice and legal ethics. Bruce ended his career by serving as of counsel to Klein, DeNatale, Goldner from 1996 to the present. Although he officially retired in 2000, Bruce continued to don his professional attire and work at the office on a daily basis for the remainder of his life. A former president of the Kern County Bar Association, Bruce received the Bench and Bar Award in 1973. He chaired several committees for the State Bar of California, including the Executive Committee, Disciplinary Board and Standing Committee on the Courts. He was awarded Outstanding Alumnus, Executive Committee of Conference of Delegates from the State Bar of California in 1981. A Fellow of the American Bar Foundation, Bruce was also a national regional vice-chair for several committees serving the American Bar Association. In addition, he was a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the American Judicature Society and Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity. Bruce strongly believed that giving back to the community in which he lived was not only important, but essential. Although his professional passion was the law, his greatest zeal was for education. He gladly and enthusiastically served for many years on the California State University, Bakersfield Foundation as a board member and past president. Bruce was instrumental in raising community funds to support development of the Walter Stiern Library on the CSUB campus. He also served as a past president of Kern County Council of Camp Fire Girls, Bakersfield Exchange Club and Stockdale Country Club. He was a past member of the board of trustees for Wesley Methodist Church, Bakersfield College Nursing Advisory Program, American Red Cross and Kern Community Foundation. In spite of his many professional and civic accomplishments, Bruce often said that his true joy came from his family. Betty captured his heart at a Sadie Hawkins' Day event at Porterville College, later marrying in 1949, after Betty completed her degree at UCLA. Needless to say, the USC-UCLA rivalry was infamous in the Bunker household on any big game day. Bruce adored his children and grandchildren and was an inspirational role model on how to lead a meaningful life. Bruce's daily life was his example: be respectful, honest and generous in thought, word and deed, while making the most of every day, and don't forget to laugh along the way. Bruce was a voracious reader throughout his life. He believed that books not only taught lessons, but they allowed you to travel to places known and unknown on adventures both real and imagined. The power of the written word dominated both his professional and personal life. He believed strongly in encouraging youth not only to read, but to love to read. Instead of flowers or other gifts, please honor Bruce's memory by making donations to the Bruce F. Bunker Endowment Fund at the CSUB Foundation, 9001 Stockdale Highway 19AW, Bakersfield, CA 93311, to support the School of Education's reading programs, or to a charity of your choice. Bruce helped to make the world a better place for those he loved and the community in which he believed. He touched the lives of many, and the legacy of his life will continue to do so in the future. His absence will be keenly felt. Bruce Freeman Bunker 1924 - 2009

Published in Bakersfield Californian from June 27 to June 28, 2009