Bruce Farris, who captivated a large audience with a broad range of sports reporting in a 52-year career at the Fresno Bee, made the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame and countless friends along the way, died Wednesday. He was 88.
“Really, just an amazing man,” said daughter Nancy Holly. “I was very blessed to have him as my father.”
Mr. Farris, who failed rapidly after suffering a stroke last week, died at 6:45 p.m. at Holly’s southeast Fresno home. He had been living in a residential care center before being moved to his daughter’s home following the stroke.
She said her father was defined by his faith, love of family and love of sports: “In that order.”
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A memorial service is being planned for Mr. Farris, who is also survived by son Greg Farris, daughter Sandra Cliff, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild on the way for whom “he was eagerly awaiting,” Holly said.
Mr. Farris’ wife, Barbara, died in 2007.
“How unusual,” Holly said, “at 88 years old, we’re having to plan for such a large memorial service. Most people at that age have much smaller services and not as many friends. He still had a wide circle of friends who respected him so much.”
They count Tom Kane, who was closely associated with Mr. Farris for 35 years while working in Fresno State’s athletic department.
Kane, his voice breaking, said he will remember Mr. Farris mostly for his honesty in sportswriting: “He never had a bad word to say about anybody, and I don’t care what happened, whether it was with the home team, the Bulldogs or anybody they played.”
Mr. Farris went into full-time retirement in December 2002, closing his career with 23 years as The Bee’s outdoors/golf writer.
But a career that would land him in the Fresno Athletic Hall of Fame in 1997 was first distinguished covering decades of Fresno State athletics.
“He loved the ’Dogs,” Kane said. “Since he retired, I took him to a lot of Fresno State games. I think the last game he saw was a basketball game two years ago. To his final days, his knowledge of athletics in general and Fresno State was phenomenal.”
Fresno Bee Managing Editor and former Sports Editor John Rich said of Mr. Farris, “Above all else, was a gentleman.”
“He always had the best interests of others at heart,” Rich said. “That included his readers — he told it like he saw it and valued every story he wrote, no matter the subject.”
Mr. Farris’ loss is felt throughout the region in the industry.
“A sad night,” tweeted Hanford Sentinel sports editor Richard de Give, “for all of us who have picked up pens, pencils and scorecards in the Valley.”
Check back at fresnobee.com and in Friday's editions of The Bee for a deeper retrospective on Farris' career.