Longtime Live Oak school board member Bernard “Barney” Bricmont died Tuesday, December 6. A tireless advocate for schools and schoolchildren, Bricmont was also a delegate to the California School Boards Association, bringing local issues to the state level and bringing insight and advocacy to our community. Bricmont played a key role in helping to launch the Santa Cruz County School Boards Association, an endeavor supported by the Santa Cruz Education Foundation.
From the Santa Cruz Sentinel:
Bernard “Barney” Bricmont had an unbridled passion for his community and spent most of his life working to make it even better.
He started the county’s first farmers market, served on Live Oak School Board for more than three decades, and was a tireless advocate for organic farming.
The Santa Cruz community lost a beloved citizen when Bricmont, who’d long struggled with health problems, died Tuesday at the age of 73.
“Barney had one of the warmest souls and generous hearts of anyone I have met,” said Zach Friend, who served with Bricmont on the board of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party. “He was one of the most dedicated community servants in our county, committing thousands of volunteer hours to our schools, libraries and political issues.”
An organic farmer with a passion for literacy and education, Bricmont was first elected to the Live Oak School Board in 1972, and was instrumental in securing support for the first Life Lab school garden at Green Acres Elementary school.
A year later, California Certified Organic Farmers was formed as he and five other organic farmers sat around his kitchen table. Just three years after that, he and others began the county’s first farmers’ market in Live Oak, which later moved to Cabrillo College and eventually evolved into the Monterey Bay Certified Markets.
“He was kind-hearted. He was willing to give you the shirt off his back,” said his daughter, Nicole Bricmont of San Jose. “He was a tireless supporter of the things he believed in.”
In addition to organic farming and local politics, Bricmont was passionate about education and literacy,
He was actively involved with the Cultural Council of Santa Cruz County, serving on the board of directors for six years. He served as president of Schools Plus — the Public Schools Foundation of Santa Cruz County, was an active member of the Friends of the Library and the Santa Cruz Democratic Central Committee, and was an active member of the California School Boards Association, among many others.
“I’ve never known anyone as engaged as Barney,” said Live Oak School District Superintendent Tamra Taylor. “He was a really impressive individual … he made a huge difference.”
The Live Oak School District and the California School Boards Association released statements this week praising Bricmont for his hard work lobbying for increased school funding and fewer state mandates.
Sen. Joe Simitian and Assemblyman Bill Monning’s offices plan to recognize Bricmont’s work. Simitian’s office is working on an in-memoriam, while Monning is planning an adjournment in Bricmont’s honor when the Assembly convenes for its next session.
Bricmont was often quiet during meetings, said Richelle Noroyan, current chair of the Santa Cruz County Democratic Party, but when he did speak, he always had something wise and profound to say.
“We’re really going to miss him,” she said.
Bernard ‘Barney’ Bricmont
BORN: Sept. 27, 1938
DIED: Dec. 6, 2011
HOME: Live Oak
EDUCATION: San Jose City College
OCCUPATION: Organic farmer, cofounder of California Certified Organic Farmers, irrigation contractor.
COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Live Oak School Board, Cultural Council, Schools Plus, California School Boards Association
SURVIVORS: Bricmont is survived by his daughter, Nicole Bricmont of San Jose. He was preceded by his late wife Barbara.
SERVICES: Friday, Dec. 16 at 2 p.m. at Pacific Garden Chapel, 1050 Cayuga St., Santa Cruz. Reception at Silver Spur, 2650 Soquel Drive, 5 p.m.
DONATIONS: In lieu of flowers, donations in Bricmont’s memory can be made to Schools Plus- Public Schools Foundation of Santa Cruz County, 1840 41st Ave., Suite 102-244, Capitola, CA 95010.