Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Arthur H. "Bud" Harwood, 9-8-1926 9-1-2011

When I was a young boy in the town of Laytonville back in the 1950's, there were two main proffesions. Most people either made logs or they made lumber. My dad always prefered to be a logger for some reason. My uncle Ben Branscomb always liked being in a sawmill. My dad always smelled like pitch, fir needles and dust. My uncle Ben always smelled like pitch, bearing grease, sawdust, with a slight metalic smell, like fresh filed sawblades. So, of course, my heroes were people that made lumber from the forests. There were no greater people to me than men like Ben Mast, Shine Sherburn, Frank Ford, Jack Crawford, my dad Everett, my uncle Ben Branscomb, or anybody connected to the timber industry, top among them was always Bud Harwood. Although he knew who I was, he always knew me as Everett and Elsie's boy. My mother and dad, and my aunts and uncles, went to school with Bud Harwood. Bud's mother, Belva Harwood, was one of their teachers at the Laytonville school.

I remember many stories from the Harwood mill, about good times and bad. My uncle Ben told me that Bud always tried to keep his mill going, even when the mill was loosing money. Bud always felt responsible for the workers and their families, many times Bud keep the mill going when he would have been far better off to have closed it. My unlce told me about at least one time that Bud couldn't even make payroll, he called the crew together and asked them if they wanted to stick through the rough time together and hope to come out when lumber prices went back up. The crew stuck with him, and true to his word, everybody got paid and they had saved the mill and their jobs together like a family might do. Bud has always been one of my most admired of men. He was a captain of his industry, and he did better at it than most.

I have copied his Obituary from the Press Democrat below:

Arthur H. 'Bud' Harwood

Arthur H. “Bud” Harwood
PressDemocrat.comSeptember 6, 2011 6:17 PM
Arthur H. “Bud” Harwood, a key figure in the Mendocino County timber industry, died at his Branscomb home Sept. 1.
“He and the Harwood family have been important players in the timber industry for many years,” said Chris Rowney, unit chief for CalFire in Mendocino County.
His death came just five days after another iconic timber industry figure, Jere Melo, was gunned down in the forest near Fort Bragg.
“It's been a tough month,” said Rowney, who recalled being in awe of both men when he was starting out in the timber industry in the 1970s.
Bud Harwood's father, “Big Bud,” established a planer and grader operation in Branscomb in 1940. Bud Harwood assumed management of Branscomb Enterprises in 1949. He was later joined by brother Jack and sister Suzanne, and then his children: Liz, Art, Jack and Calvin.
The company was renamed Harwood Products in 1972. In its heyday, the company employed nearly 500 people.
It survived the industry peaks and troughs that grew the number of mills in the county to about 600, then cut it to fewer than six.
But in 2008, the Harwood mill fell victim to the housing collapse. It was dismantled and sold in pieces.
Even as the business declined, Harwood stuck with his ethical and moral beliefs, which meant trying to keep his community employed, even to his financial detriment, Rowney said.
“He fought to keep that mill running and to provide employment in the Branscomb area. From a straight economic point of view, it didn't necessarily make sense,” he said.
“You don't find many people like that today,” said Mendocino County Supervisor Carre Brown. “The loss to the town of Laytonville is very big.”
Harwood also showed he cared for his community by serving on numerous boards and donating generously to causes, including $60,000 to help launch the Long Valley Health Center and to the renovation of Harwood Park, family members said.
Bud Harwood was born Sept. 8, 1926 to Arthur Harwood and Belva York Harwood at their Ukiah homestead and in the same room as his grandmother, Mary Gibson York.
The Gibson's were pioneers who settled in the Ukiah Valley in the late 1850s. They migrated from Canada to Oakland, where Bud Harwood's grandfather served as assessor, according to an obituary written by family members.
Harwood's father moved to Laytonville in the 1920s, met and married Belva York, and raised a family.
Bud Harwood graduated from Laytonville High School in 1944, then joined the U.S. Navy. He trained to fly airplanes from aircraft carriers but. World War II ended before he saw combat.
When he returned from military service, he attended Santa Rosa Junior College, then U.C. Berkeley where he majored in business, played baseball and met his future wife, Virginia Zinn. They married in 1951 and together raised four children. They have nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
The couple enjoyed traveling, dancing and entertainment. They continually looked for ways to improve sawmill and forestry operations, according to the family's account.
“He never quit thinking about tomorrow,” the family's statement said, adding that he cherished his community, baseball and a good political argument.
For years, he held an annual fish fry in Branscomb that drew political leaders. He formed the Branscomb Blues baseball club and would bring in “ringers” from his old college team to play with local players. He also played for the Laytonville Loggers, which competed with teams from Oakland to Eureka.
A believer in public service, Harwood served on the boards of the Redwood Regional Logging Conference, Mendocino County Democratic Central Committee, Willits Unified School District, Laytonville Lions club, Howard Memorial Hospital foundation, Bank of Willits and the Laytonville Little League.
Harwood is survived by his wife, children, brother and sister. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Harwood Memorial Park in Laytonville.
The family suggests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions be made to the Harwood Park Association in Laytonville or Phoenix Hospice in Willits.


Rose said...

Sorry to hear this, Ernie.

Ross Sherburn said...

Another "Legend" gone.

e. said...

My grandparents worked at both Harwood mills in Willits when I was a little kid. I have fond memories of those days.

RIP Bud.

Anonymous said...

Thx for the info. I'm gonna go shit on the grave of a man who spent his life raping mother nature.

Ernie Branscomb said...

Spoken like a true coward. You don't even have the strength of charactor to sign your name to your vitiol. "Those that live in wood houses shouln't throw matches."