by Nick Welsh
Bayard Stockton, the international journalist and onetime CIA employee who served as one of Santa Barbara’s better known civic activists and personalities for the last 20 years, died in his home last Friday. At 75, he was felled by the persistent emphysema that dogged him in recent years. During the past five years, Stockton — endowed with a distinctively theatrical basso profundo — made his Thursday evening adult education classes a forum for Santa Barbarans to debate local and global affairs, often with diplomats representing the more embroiled nations of the world. A fixture at Hendry’s Beach, where he wore hats adorned with material he found washed ashore, Stockton also advised Santa Barbara Mayor Marty Blum in her first bid for mayor. “Sometimes we get a little full of ourselves up here,” Blum recalled. “Bayard tried to give me the man-on-the-street perspective. He’d say, ‘How does this affect people living on the East Side?’” Stockton moved to Santa Barbara in 1981 and interviewed notable personalities for local radio station KMGQ-FM for several years. A writer for Newsweek and BBC correspondent, Stockton also penned several books of both fiction and nonfiction. His last book — which is yet to be released — details the adventures of deceased former CIA operative Bill Harvey, whose Cold War exploits included digging a tunnel underneath the Soviet Embassy in East Berlin.