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Bruce Leonard Prather

1923 - 2015
Bruce Leonard Prather Obituary
Bruce Leonard Prather
May 7, 1923 - Oct. 16, 2015
Resident of Santa Cruz
Bruce Leonard Prather and his twin sister Leola were born May 7, 1923, in Santa Cruz, California. Bruce was the adopted son of George and Nellie Prather and his sister Leola was adopted by William and Elizabeth Conklin. Both families were close and the twins grew up together, sharing birthdays, holidays and other family events. His father George discovered and developed the tourist attraction, the Mystery Spot, which contributed to Bruce's fascination and love of science.
Bruce was a graduate of Santa Cruz High School, class of 1941. He attended San Jose State where he earned a degree in Business in 1948. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy, he trained at Farragut Naval Training Station in Idaho and attended Midshipman's school at Northwestern University, where upon graduation was commissioned an Ensign. During WWII as a Lieutenant JG he was stationed aboard the minesweeper USS Revenge. It was the first ship to enter and sweep Tokyo Bay following the Japanese surrender.
The following year, he married Shirley Grace Jackson in June 1949 and was then called back to active duty at the start of the Korean War in June 1950. Returning home to his wife at the end of the Korean War in 1953, he attended graduate studies at San Jose State College where he received an MBA. In 1958 he took over management of the new Santa's Village Park in Scotts Valley which he ran for the next 5 years. In 1965 acquired Mercer's Caverns, a beautiful limestone cave in the sierra foothills, and developed it for tourism. Back home, Bruce and Shirley raised their family, daughter Lori and two sons, Lance and Lenn. In 1979 Bruce and Shirley celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary then three months later he lost Shirley to cancer in September 1979.
Bruce re-married in 1981 to his high school classmate Eleanor (Castagnola) Ballgae. For the next 29 years, Bruce and Eleanor traveled extensively and visited all 7 continents. After many happy years together, Eleanor passed away in 2011.
Bruce is survived by his daughter Lori Robinson of Mill Valley; son Lance Prather of North Hollywood; step daughters April Whitney of Los Altos Hills and Maria Harris of Modesto; step son Marc Ballgae of Florida. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Jarrod, Hillary, David, Danielle, Will, Connor and Dustin. Bruce was preceded in death by his wives, Shirley and Eleanor and his son, Lenn in 1994.
Services will be held at 11am on Saturday November 7th at the old Holy Cross Cemetery on Capitola Road, Ext., Santa Cruz, CA. In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to Hospice of Santa Cruz, 940 Disc Dr., Scotts Valley, CA 95066 or to Wounded Warriors Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, KS 66675. If you would like to share a memory or express your condolences to Bruce's family, please visit www.pacificgardenschapel.com.

View the online memorial for Bruce Leonard Prather
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel on Oct. 25, 2015
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