Beloved son, brother, friend, Robert Bruce McFadden, Jr. left this world March 2, 2019.
Known as Bruce he was an extraordinary writer, fantastic conversationalist and cherished friend. Santa Barbara residents fondly recall Bruce’s captivating stories and thoughtful commentary. No topic was too obscure. He had the unique ability to engage everyone in highly amusing banter, no matter the topic, from the latest scientific advancement to politics, philosophy, tech innovation, spiritual enlightenment and the latest cultural trends. Bruce could talk about it all with intelligence and humor.
Bruce was born in Portland, Oregon, on October 22, 1965. The family moved to Santa Barbara in the summer of 1969. Bruce considered his childhood years with his four brothers idyllic. Endless summers were spent at Hope Ranch Beach. His childhood home was a warm and loving place, a gathering spot for the neighborhood, doors always unlocked and wide open.
Bruce attended Vieja Valley Elementary School, La Colina Junior High School, San Marcos High School, and then UCSB where he majored in English, art history and politics. His enthusiasm for art inspired him to help found UCSB’s first contemporary art club, Sfumato and get involved with Santa Barbara’s art scene later in life.
Bruce’s writing talent first manifested in grade school and even had one of his letters featured on a David Letterman skit. His friends were all waiting for the next great American novel which fortunately snippets can be found in observational stories he posted online. Bruce was also a talented pianist, a skill he mostly hid from those who knew him and a path he could have easily pursued.
Bruce employed his writing skill throughout his professional life, from working on Capitol Hill to Buzz magazine, to digital media such as Voyager Company and an interactive producer stint at iXL in the early internet startup days. While living in Los Angeles enjoying the city’s cultural offerings, he met his life partner Henry Kurina.
In 2005 Bruce faced such major health challenges that he and Henry returned to Santa Barbara. He was a fighter and after ten years of heroic struggles, with the support of his loving mother and family, he was miraculously on the path to his own wellness. But then in a too brief period of time he was to lose his oldest brother Douglas, his mother Natalie, and his partner Henry.
Despite these losses Bruce was determined to stay positive and make an impact in his home town and beloved community. As his energy increased he became involved in Santa Barbara’s cultural and philanthropic communities. Organizations he enthusiastically supported included Sarah House Hospice, Food From The Heart, AHA!, KCRW, Lotusland, and Arts Fund Santa Barbara. He also served for four years on the board of directors for the Museum of Contemporary Art SB and the Lois and Walter Capps Project.
His health problems occupied a small corner in what is a beautiful masterpiece of a life well lived. A life defined by his easy laugh, great sense of humor and razor sharp wit. Bruce’s passing has left an empty space for those left behind. Lazy Acres has lost its ambassador. Shoreline Park is a little emptier. Social media will never be the same and our phones are so much duller without his texts.
Bruce is survived by his father, Dr. Robert Bruce McFadden and his wife Kay McFadden, brother John McFadden and his wife Sarah McFadden, brother Phillip McFadden, brother David McFadden and his partner Boyd Bailey, his sister-in-law Leslie McFadden, and his nieces and nephews – Lindsey McFadden, Chase McFadden, Harrison McFadden, and Lauren McFadden. He is predeceased by his mother Natalie Rand McFadden, his uncle Kendrick Rand, his oldest brother Douglas McFadden, and his partner Henry Kurnia.
Bruce was passionate about the Santa Barbara Public Library and served on the Committee to rebuild the Public Courtyard Entrance to the Main branch. Please consider a donation to The Santa Barbara Library Foundation (Next Steps Project) for a permanent remembrance of Bruce in the new Courtyard.