Dr. Bruce Melvin Trowbridge

Dr. Bruce Melvin Trowbridge

Dr. Bruce Melvin Trowbridge

The late Dr. Bruce Melvin Trowbridge, of Ashland was born Jan. 4, 1942, in Hawthorne, Calif., to Ethel E. (Rhodes) Trowbridge and Arliss F. Trowbridge, and passed away on March 16, 2009. His parents worked in the aircraft and ship industry during World War II in El Segundo/Long Beach, Calif. His mother was one of the many Rosy the Riveter force of women working on war planes, and his father was a welder on Navy ships during this time of war. The family returned to their 80-acre farm near Meridian, Idaho in 1945 after the war ended. Bruce lived on this farm through his high school years at Meridian, where he played sports, sang in school operettas, and was president of his senior class, graduating in 1960. During the farm years as a teenager, he would hire out to local farmers, riding from farm to farm on his 1929 Harley Davidson motorcycle, of which he was very proud. Bruce earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education and Biology at the University of Idaho in 1964. While a student there, he was a member of the Delta Sigma Phi fraternity and was involved in a variety of campus activities including singing with the University Singers, wrestling, baseball, and swimming for the U of I Helldivers team.

Bruce began his first teaching job in 1964 at Brookings-Harbor High School in Brookings, Ore., where he taught biology and general science, and coached football, wrestling and baseball. He moved to Phoenix High School, Oregon in 1966, and taught P.E., driver's education, and coached there until 1969. It was while teaching at PHS that Bruce met the art student teacher, Pat Bentley. They married in Medford on June 10, 1967 and remained so for 33 years. Their number one and only child, James, was born in 1982. Bruce's son, James Bentley Trowbridge, was one of the joys of life, and together they created the many memories that involved travel including trips to Disneyland, Kettleman City, the Oregon Caves, Crescent City and Harris Beach.

Bruce heard the sirens of graduate school calling and off they went to the University of Oregon. Bruce earned his Master's Degree in Physical Education/Human Performance and his Doctorate of Education Degree in Human Performance and Gerontology in 1974. Upon his return to southern Oregon, he worked at a variety of jobs including Community Services Director for the Jackson County Health Department, served as the Long-Term Care Ombudsman for the region, and UNISERV Representative for the Oregon Education Association. He worked part-time as an adjunct instructor in education/physical education for Southern Oregon State College (now SOU).

In 1980-85, Bruce was employed at the Job Council as a Career Counselor. There he met his now long-time friend, Larry Nollenberger, and these two joined with several other SOSC friends including Tom Pyle, Ralph Fidler, Gordon Wolfe, Bob Harvey, John Mairs, Jimmy Olsen, Bill Erickson and Harold Otness to form the Bad Boys Club that performed good deeds for those in need. Thanks for all you did boys to the very end!

Not wanting any moss to grow under his feet, Bruce began seeking adventure in travel and teaching overseas, first in Antwerp, Belgium, then in Guam. After his return to Medford, he taught driver's education, and substituted in the Medford Public Schools, where he was known at Mr. T. Bruce was great with the students and very well-liked by them for his friendly and relaxed teaching style. He again served as a part-time instructor at Southern Oregon University from 1992 to 2002.

Bruce was known by his many friends as a positive and outgoing person who loved sports, being outdoors, and dogs - especially Hank, Buddy and Tiger. He enjoyed music all of his life, singing in operettas, plays, and with the Medford choir performing Handel's Messiah at Christmastimes. He also performed in the Nutcracker ballet with the Rogue Valley Ballet Company. Bruce totally enjoyed playing the bagpipe and was a member of the William Keddie Pipe Band and Southern Oregon Scottish, participating in many area parades. Running was another sport that he participated in prior to an accident- his last big run being the Portland Marathon in 2001. He was proud of that accomplishment. He ran several Bay to Breakers races, and joined the running club Hash House Harriers who bestowed upon him the name Baggy. This group remained loyal friends to the end of the run. On-On! Traveling remained a favorite pastime and he helped build or renovate homes in Mexico through the Habitat for Humanity program during summers.

In January 2002, Bruce had a tragic accident when dismounting a mountain bike, falling down into a steep ravine high in the Tolman Creek back country. He suffered a broken neck which left him paralyzed. He spent the remainder of his life working toward his goal of walking again. Sadly, he did not accomplish this before his passing.

Bruce treasured his memories with his son James - such as hikes in the 100-acre woods in search of the tallest tree he could drag down the mountain to decorate for his favorite holiday, Christmas. He was also happy to have had a good friendship with his former wife, Pat, during his life.

Bruce is survived by his son, James Trowbridge, Medford; former spouse, Pat Bentley; nephew, Joseph Trowbridge, and niece, Felicia Smith, Boise, Idaho; and cousin, Bill Ward, of Meridian, Idaho. Bruce was predeceased by his sister, Louise; his parents; and his brother, Harold. He asked that in lieu of flowers, contributions of time, money, or items be made to the Jackson County Humane Society, Dogs for the Deaf, Dunn House, Phoenix High School Scholarship through the PHS Alumni Association, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or the needy, including homeless teens. In addition he asked that we keep hope alive, smile and be kind to others. In recent days preceding his passing, he felt that he was slipping the surly bonds of Earthand getting closer to touching the face of God ~ from the poem High Flight by 19-year old John Magee, Jr., 1941 (paraphrased excerpt)

There will be no funeral service in accordance with Bruce's wishes. An informal memorial gathering and celebration of life will be held at a later date during spring or summer in the Mt. Ashland area.

Share This Story