Lifelong Ventura County resident Bruce Montgomery Strathearn passed away peacefully in his sleep on Valentine’s Day morning, 2022, surrounded with love by his closest family and friends. Bruce leaves behind a tremendous legacy for his family and for the County in which he lived.
Bruce’s grandfather, Robert Perkins Strathearn, immigrated from Scotland in 1873 at 21 years of age, settling in Carpinteria. The family first moved to Piru before purchasing their Simi Ranch in 1889, which consisted of approximately 15,000 acres of El Rancho Simi. The family relocated permanently to Simi Valley in 1891, and operated a successful ranching organization called the Strathearn Cattle Company until the late 1960s.
Born in the midst of the Great Depression in Simi Valley, CA on June 1, 1935, Bruce was the youngest of 5 boys, born to David Lamb Strathearn and Berenice Montgomery Strathearn. In 1935, the family moved to their homestead on Tierra Rejada Road, which had been completed three years prior to Bruce’s birth.
Bruce was six years old when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. Some of his earliest memories were being on airplane watch with his mother on the family’s Middle Ranch, located near what is today Moorpark College. His mother would phone in what type of plane was flying overhead and the direction it was headed to the Defense Department. He could vividly remember seeing search lights over the Santa Susana Pass during his childhood. While the Strathearn Cattle Company produced a lot of beef during the war years, it was all given to the government in support of the war effort. Therefore, at a young age, Bruce was tasked with hunting deer during season to supplement meat for his large family.
Bruce went on to attend school at the original Simi Valley High School before transferring to New Mexico Military Institute during his Junior year. He graduated high school in 1953 and attended NMMI for two more years, completing his Junior College degree and playing Center for the basketball team at both the high school and collegiate levels. He left NMMI as a Cadet Officer, one of only three within his class, reaching the rank of Second Lieutenant and privileged with the badge of Distinguished Military Student. He eventually transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo for his final 2 years of college, graduating with a degree in Animal Husbandry.
Upon graduation, he worked on his family’s ranch until the age of 25. In the late ‘40s to late ‘50s, he would spend summers in Elko, Nevada and would put up hay on his family’s other working ranch, which was a cow and calf operation. With a love for upland game hunting, he started the Los Alamos Hunting Reserve in the early 1960s and ran a successful operation for 5 years focused on hunting dove, deer, quail, chuckers and pheasants.
In 1963, Moorpark College was established by the Governing Board of the Ventura County Community College District. Soon after, a 134-acre site on Moorpark’s eastern city boundary was secured via a combination donation and purchase from the Strathearn Family.
In 1964, the Strathearn family deeded the land that now constitutes the Strathearn Historical Park and Museum to the Simi Rancho Recreation and Park District. Following the death of his father and two of his brothers in a plane crash in the Gulf of California, Bruce continued his family’s commitment to civic duty in Ventura County. Bruce served on the Simi Valley Historical Society, the Noontime Club for the Rotary Club of Simi Valley for 12 years, and on the Ventura County Soil & Water Resource Conservation District for 26 years. He started Simi Valley Bank in 1980 and served on the bank’s board for 20 years until the time of its sale in the year 2000.
Bruce was also a real estate investor, and in 1967 he purchased a large plot of land in Northeastern Oregon, where his family would spend summers for the better part of the next three decades. He built a 64-acre lake and a 1-acre pond stocked with rainbow trout and brook trout. Many of Bruce’s fondest memories are from the summers he entertained his family and friends in the beautiful surroundings of the cabin he built in Lostine, Oregon.
Apart from donating his time, Bruce supported many philanthropic endeavors. Bruce has contributed to the Women’s Legacy Fund, Heritage Fund, Destino Latino 2000 Fund, the Strathearn Family Fund to support the Chamber’s Foundation for Simi Valley, and the Bruce and Zona Strathearn Fund for future Ventura County Charities. His legacy of giving will continue into the future.
Bruce took pleasure in many pastimes and fun activities. He was an avid hunter and fisherman. He belonged to the Ventura County Game Preserve, and spent many Wednesdays and Saturdays hunting waterfowl with some of his best friends. He was a tremendous fly fisherman, honing his skills on his lake in Oregon, but he also loved float-fishing the beautiful lakes in Mono County and wading the Owens River. He enjoyed watching all sports, but especially loved watching the Lakers, Angels, Dodgers, Rams and USC sporting events. He went to sleep knowing the Rams had won the Super Bowl, and that put a smile on his face.
Some of Bruce’s favorite memories include the time he spent with the California Indians, a recreational trap and skeet shooting organization. He was able to attain a Class A shooting designation due to his marksmanship and served as High Chief in 1987. He always looked forward to the annual camaraderie of socializing and shooting with some of his best friends in the California Indians.
Bruce is survived by his daughters, Allison Strathearn of Apache Junction, AZ and Kim Strathearn of Caldwell, ID; son David Strathearn (wife Alisa), of Los Angeles; stepdaughter Kimberly Gustafson of Poway; grandchildren, Khysa and Kaden Gustafson, of Poway, and Preston and Sadie Strathearn, of Los Angeles.
An intimate memorial will be held for Bruce’s immediate family and closest friends on a future date. In lieu of flowers, Bruce felt strongly about charitable giving, and any gesture could be graciously given in his name to any of the following:
Ventura County Food Share
4156 Southbank Road
Oxnard, CA 93036
Phone: (805) 983-7100
FOOD Share Inc
4156 Southbank Road
Oxnard, CA 93036
Boys & Girls Club of Simi Valley
2850 Lemon Drive
Simi Valley, CA 93063
Phone: (805) 527-4437
Boys & Girls Club of Oxnard
1900 W 5th Street
Oxnard, CA 93030
Phone: (805) 815-4959
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