Arlen Bruce Buchanan, age 78, went home to be with the Lord on February 18, 2010, in his home in Lyle, WA with his children and wife at his bedside. Bruce was born February 6, 1932 (his father’s 40th birthday) in Yakima, WA to Leo L. and Laura Mae (Hesp) Buchanan, he was the second of seven children.
Bruce grew up in Selah, WA, was a member of First Presbyterian Church in Yakima, and graduated from Selah High School in 1950. He attended Washington State College and then joined the Navy Cadet Program in 1952. After graduating from the Cadet Program he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. In the USMC he was stationed at Pensacola, FL, Cherry Point, NC, Corpus Christi, TX, Sandpoint, WA, and Osaka, Japan. He was part of the early days of military jet aviation flying the TV-2, F2H Banshee, F9F-5 Panther, F9F-6 Cougar, and A-4D Skyhawk as well as numerous prop aircraft. He achieved the rank of Captain before leaving the Reserves.
After leaving Active Duty and transferring to the Reserve forces, Bruce signed on with a crop dusting company in the Yakima Valley where he had the opportunity to fly a Stearman bi-plane crop duster from Yakima to Nova Scotia, Canada to spray for the Spruce budworm. He returned to the Yakima Valley and continued to crop dust until 1959 when West Coast Airlines hired him as a commercial airline pilot. After 33 years of commercial flying for West Coast, Hughes Airwest, Republic and finally Northwest Airlines he reluctantly hung up his wings and retired at age 60 During his commercial career, he flew various aircraft including the DC-3, F-27, DC-9, A-320 and retired as a 747 Captain, he was a proud member of the airline family and his colleagues would agree that he had the “right stuff” and was what pilots call a “good stick”.
In 1959, while stationed in Cherry Point, NC Bruce met and married Christine Tunstall, of Apex, North Carolina. They moved to Boise, Idaho where their daughter Cheri Jo Buchanan was born. After eight years of marriage they divorced.
In 1970, Bruce married Karron Griffin. They had a daughter, Aimee Laura Buchanan and a son, Ian Monroe Buchanan. He was promoted to Captain and moved to Phoenix, AZ. After two years, they returned to the Yakima Valley where he bought his family’s pear orchard on his parent’s home place, while continuing to work for the airlines. Bruce was also an avid cattleman. He owned and operated a cattle and hay ranch in Selah from 1980 until 1999.
Bruce fulfilled a lifelong dream by purchasing the historic Arivaca Ranch in Arivaca, AZ in 1999. While he was there he not only improved the ranch, he restored the pride the small community of Arivaca had in the ranch within which their town lies. He was an active member of the Arivaca Christian Center and embraced the community by serving on numerous Boards and started the annual ranch Fourth of July and Christmas celebrations at his home at the Arivaca Ranch Headquarters.
In 2007 he sold the Arivaca Ranch and moved to Lyle, WA, where he continued to support his community by actively participating in the local fire department fundraisers, was a member of the High Prairie Community Council, and was a member of the Washington State and Klickitat County Cattlemen’s Association.
Bruce will be deeply missed by his wife of 40 years, Karron Buchanan and his three children, Cheri Buchanan Hedger (Greg) of Chandler, AZ., Aimee Ozanich (Brent) of Selah, WA and Ian Buchanan (Robin) of San Diego, CA. and his grandchildren Christopher and Sydney Hedger, Michael and Elise Ozanich and Gavin and Clara Buchanan, and his brothers and sisters Lynn Buchanan (Connie) of Yakima, Betty Hillstrom-Keller (Doug) of Selah, Kaye Patton of Dallas, TX, Marilyn Buchanan of Seattle, WA, Roger Buchanan of Judith Gap, MT, and Doug Buchanan of Fairbanks, AK as well as many cousins, nieces, nephews and friends.
Words cannot express our gratitude toward Judy Merrell and Hospice of the Gorge staff, Rev. Steve Barker, Pastor Myrin Bentz and Pastor Fred Neth for their care and guidance during this trying time, and to Arlen and Sharon Aleckson, as well as, the many members of Bruce’s family and friends who have gone out of their way to fill his last days with love and friendship. We, his family, are also grateful for all the prayer warriors who kept our family uplifted throughout this difficult time.
We will celebrate our Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle and Friend’s life
Friday, February 26th at 2p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Yakima Washington.