Bruce W.W. Harger

Date of Birth

July 2, 1948

Date of Death

December 28, 2014

City of Death

Santa Barbara

Dr. Bruce William Walter Harger passed peacefully surrounded by family, on December 28, 2014.

Born in Indiana, Bruce moved to Hope Ranch when he was 12. It was in Santa Barbara, that he began his lifelong relationship with the ocean and raised his family.

At San Marcos High School, in the 60’s, Bruce met his lifelong best friends. He loved music and formed a rock’n’roll band with his brother Steve and friends. The “Boss Bananas” was inspired by and played the music of the Yardbirds and the Byrds, among others.

As an undergraduate student at UCSB, while waiting to catch waves at Campus Point, Bruce found his calling sitting near the kelp beds. His lifelong love of science began with his study of the giant brown kelp and he became a marine botanist.

At UCSB he met his professor and mentor, Dr. Michael Neushul, who shared Bruce’s passion for the giant brown kelp plant. Bruce completed his MS degree at the University of Hawaii studying the island algae. He lived and worked in an undersea habitat off of the coast of Puerto Rico. Bruce’s doctoral fieldwork was on the giant brown kelp, Macrocystis pyrifera in the Santa Barbara Channel and his scientific findings were published in the years that followed.

For two years, he completed post-doctoral work in Panama working for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute studying algae growth in the Atlantic. Bruce married his wife, Devon, in 1981. They met at the UCSB Marine Science Institute and shared a love of the ocean, traveling throughout the tropics with many underwater adventures and most recently a trip with their children to Hawaii.

Completing his Ph.D. at UCSB, Bruce continued working with Dr. Neushul for 25 years at Neushul Mariculture, Inc. Bruce became the primary owner of Neushul Mariculture and later established his own company, Sunnyside Sea Farms, named for his grandfather’s Sunnyside Farm in Indiana. Bruce loved to combine his love of science with education. With his colleague, Dr. Miriam Polne-Fuller, he brought science in the form of “kelp beads” to science nights at Santa Barbara schools.

Sunnyside Sea Farms educational products also include bioluminescent dinoflagellates (Lights from the Sea) which continue to bring marine science education to a national and international audience of students and educators. Bruce assumed the role of CFO for his brother’s company, Professional Packers and Forwarders, Inc. which provided a means to support his family and continue his passion for science and education.

A true Christian in his heart and soul, Bruce made First Presbyterian Church his second home. From leadership roles during high school to serving as an elder and with the Childrens and Youth Ministry, he used his time and talent in service to his faith community.

Bruce was blessed beyond words by his three children, Benjamin, Isabelle and Lillian. Watching his children grow and change brought him so much joy! Bruce was a kind and loving husband, father, brother and friend. With the wisdom and patience that grounded his family immeasurably, Bruce lived a life always aware of God’s presence.

Bruce is survived by his wife of 33 years, Devon, son Benjamin (14) and twin daughters Lillian and Isabelle (9), brother Steve Harger (Dana), his sisters, Judy Williams (Bob), Elizabeth Young (Dale), seven nieces and nephews, sisters-in-laws, Régan Cohen, Dana Herkelrath (Felipe Golez), mother-in-law, Jan Herkelrath.

Services and a Celebration of Life will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara, 21 E. Constance Avenue, Saturday, January 10 at 1 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be directed to the “Childrens and Youth Ministry” First Presbyterian Church, Santa Barbara.


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