Stephen H. Branda
Steve, or Bwana, as he was known to his friends and colleagues, passed away on November 9, 2020, after a year of health issues. Born in the San Fernando Valley, and raised by his parents, Armond and Edna, he was a standout football player at Alemany High School in Mission Hills. After two years at Cal State Northridge, he transferred to UCSB, and upon graduating in 1972, he settled in Santa Barbara.
His quick wit, sharp intelligence, and friendly demeanor earned him the respect of his co-workers, vendors, and customers at every company he worked for, including Infomag, SBRC, PDI, AEC-Able, and ATK Space, where he ultimately retired. As Quality Manager, one of Steve’s jobs was to be the face of the company, hosting inspectors and customer management teams for grueling all-day audits. It was common for a sour faced inspector to show up in the morning, only to wind up smiling by the end of the day. When roaring laughter could be heard from one of the conference rooms, one could be sure that it was Steve, doing what he did best, ‘holding court’, sitting at the head of the table, with everybody in stitches, eyes wet from uncontrollable laughter.
Steve’s passion for all things musical led to his building of a large record collection and state-of-the-art stereo system that was central to his friends’ gatherings. As a fan of bluegrass and Americana music, he played mandolin, and is considered the godfather of the musical group that call themselves The Barnstormers. He excelled in the gift of conversation, had an ebullient sense of humor, and was an avid storyteller.
Steve was the glue that held friends together, the spark that lit up people’s hearts, the light that illuminated where kindness grew, the big man in the middle of any gathering. Whether it was a concert, camping, music festival, or a gathering of friends at Joe’s Cafe, Steve was the leader, and always will be. He leaves his friends with heavy hearts, as there is now a giant hole where a gentle giant once stood.
A memorial for Bwana will be held in the new year. It will be a time of joyful remembrance and a source of comfort for everyone who had the good fortune to know him.