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Bruce Plumb

Longtime CUSD employee, veteran, loving father

Bruce Walter Plumb, a 37-year employee of the Claremont Unified School District, died on July 23, 2013. He was 58.

Mr. Plumb was born on October 16, 1954 in Algona, Iowa to David Walter and Marilyn Plumb. He graduated from Pomona High School in 1972 and served in the US Navy during the Vietnam War from 1972 to 1975, where he was stationed on the command ship USS Blue Ridge. The Blue Ridge and its crew had a support role in the de-mining of North Vietnamese waters in 1973, and participated in the historic helicopter evacuation of Saigon in April of 1975. 

After being honorably discharged, Mr. Plumb took a job as a custodian with the Claremont Unified School District. He would continue to work for CUSD for nearly 4 decades, rising to the position of Lead Grounds Supervisor. He also put in many hours of service representing his colleagues with the California School Employees Association.

Throughout his career, he commuted from Wrightwood, where he raised his son Matthew and his daughter Tanya. His children say he was a loving father, who enjoyed growing tomatoes, barbecuing and getting together with friends. Other hobbies included listening to classic rock music and reading avidly, with a particular focus on rock ‘n roll biographies and historical nonfiction about subjects of interest like the Vietnam War.

Mr. Plumb was a private person when you first met him but once someone was in his inner circle, “they were in for life,” his son shared.  Mr. Plumb enjoyed getting together with members of his CUSD team and often joined co-workers for a friendly game of tennis on the Claremont High School courts before heading home.

Mr. Plumb was passionate about maintaining a high level of education and good working conditions in the Claremont Unified School District. His outspoken opinions often found their way into the Reader’s Comments section of the Claremont COURIER, never sugar-coated and always accompanied by a quote from one of his favorite songs.

A February 2011 letter provides a vivid example. Mr. Plumb saluted the CHS football team for the previous year’s successful playoff bid; censured the audience at a recent school board meeting for being uncivil to the board, comparing their comments to dialogue from Lord of the Flies; and encouraged the board to continue its search for a new superintendent.

“I know this letter will draw some unfriendly fire,” he wrote. “But like my old pals Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers would say, ‘No, I won’t back down.’”

In an email addressed to all CUSD employees, Superintendent of Student Services Kevin Ward emphasized that Mr. Plumb’s critiques came from the best of places.

“His sometimes cantankerous words could not mask a deep love for what he did and for all of us...,” Mr. Ward noted. “Bruce’s legacy to CUSD is his passion for the students and staff of this district and his efforts to ensure our facilities were the best that they could be, and that issues were fixed quickly so we all could do what we need to do.”

Mr. Plumb’s colleagues are mourning the loss of a fixture in the Claremont school district.

“Bruce served with pride and passion,” CUSD Service Director Rick Cota said. “He was always the first to arrive daily at our Service Center, and often was the first voice someone heard on the phone when needing assistance.

“I am honored to have had the opportunity to have Bruce work for and with me. I am grateful for getting to know Bruce and listen to his ideas,” Mr. Cota continued. “He was a dedicated family man; he served our country in the Navy and he always was a voice for the voiceless.”

Mr. Plumb is survived by his mother, Marilyn Plumb of Claremont; by his brother, David Plumb of Claremont; by his son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Gabriela Plumb of Bloomington; by his daughter and son-in-law, Tanya and Timothy Bartlett of Wrightwood; and by his nephews, Daniel and Robert Plumb. He also leaves his uncle, Richard Tuttle and his wife Pat; his aunts, Winifred Hanzlicek and Patricia Anderson; and his cousins, Jeff, Kent, Lynn, Mark, Greg, Charlotte, Bill, Ken and Tom.

A community-wide service is being planned for September. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the American Diabetes Association, 611 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 900, Los Angeles, CA 90017.

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