Garlich was 'pillar of our community'

EDITOR'S NOTE: This obituary originally appeared on a blog, "A Bubbling Cauldron," and was reprinted with permission.


COSTA MESA — After a week filled with sadness in Costa Mesa, I must report that my friend Bruce Garlich, a former Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner who twice ran for City Council, has died.

He died of cancer Tuesday evening, after a brief stay in hospice care. He was 74.

As many Costa Mesans will know, Bruce was a pillar of our community. At the time of his death, he was president of the Costa Mesa Senior Corp.'s board of directors.

He was also involved in many other community organizations, including the Boys & Girls Club, Lions Club, Costa Mesa United, and was a volunteer reader in Costa Mesa elementary schools.

Bruce was a member of the Costa Mesa Planning Commission for six years, including a tour as chairman. During that time, he used his finely-honed executive skills to keep the commission focused and productive.

He unsuccessfully ran for Costa Mesa City Council twice — in 2004 and 2006 — but never flinched at those defeats. He continued to serve the city that had been his home for more than three decades and was a mentor to many.

He retired as an executive after a long and illustrious career with McDonnell Douglas Corp., where he managed billions of dollars in cutting-edge projects.

He was a proud Missouri native and a 1959 graduate of the University of Missouri. Those of us who called him a friend could see that stereotypical Missouri stubbornness peek out from time to time.

In recent years, Bruce had been slowed by his battle with cancer. During that time he tended to his wife, Marietta, as she also wrestled with a particularly nasty form of that disease.

She passed away almost exactly two years ago on March 17, 2009.

Bruce "managed" his illness with the skill and tenacity borne of a lifetime of "managing" things. Even in his final weeks, he was firm and decisive about how his days would be managed.

Bruce is survived by his son, Gregory Garlich, and his former wife, Barbara, both of Huntington Beach; his brother, Roger Garlich of Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.; nieces Carla Lett of Vallejo, Calif., and Dawn Lett of Los Angeles and nephews Kevin White and Gary Bowles, both of Los Angeles. Funeral arrangements are pending.

I will miss my friend, Bruce Garlich. I'll miss his frank and caring friendship, his wise counsel, his clear vision and his terrific sense of humor. He was a true Gentleman of Costa Mesa.

GEOFF WEST, a Costa Mesa resident, blogs about city politics and life on his blog site, "A Bubbling Cauldron."

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