Kern County Water Agency Director Bruce Hafenfeld dies at 73

February 10, 2021
by Lois Henry
Bruce Hafenfeld, a director on the Kern County Water Agency since 2012 and lifelong ranger, died Jan. 19.
Lois Henry

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Bruce Allen Hafenfeld
June 12, 1947 – January 19, 2021

A LIFE WELL LIVED Bruce Allen Hafenfeld was born June 12, 1947, Orange CA. to Bernard Norman Hafenfeld and Barbara Jane Crosier. He went to be in the arms of the Lord January 19, 2021 with his family by his side after losing a valiant fight against Leukemia. He attended St. Joachim Catholic School, Costa Mesa High School, Orange Coast Junior College and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in animal science in 1968.

Immediately after graduation from Cal Poly Bruce enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, attended Navy Flight School in Pensacola Florida, graduating and earning his wings as a Naval Flight Officer-Bombardier-Navigator in Attack Aircraft (A4 and A6 Intruder) and later transferred to the El Toro Marine Corp Air Station where he was part of the Marine Attack Squadron 242. He remained in inactive reserves until he retired as a Captain in July 1982.

Bruce met Sylvia Joughin through a college friend and they were married in 1974 at the Joughin Ranch. Bruce’s career included working for N3 Cattle Company, Beechinor Cattle Feeding and Joughin Ranch. Bruce had put together a handful of cows while still serving in the USMC and he and Sylvia were gifted 25 bred heifers as a wedding gift. They purchased the old Alexander Ranch in 1979 and Hafenfeld Ranch was born. Later Bruce and Sylvia purchased most of the Joughin herd of cows, calves and bulls as well as the USFS ad BLM permits, adding to their allotments already in place and the multi-generational ranching tradition continues to this day.

Bruce remained active in running the ranch with his family until his illness. He kept busy serving his community and trade organizations through South Fork Union School District, South Fork Mosquito District, Kern Valley Resource Conservation District, Kern County Cattlemen’s Association, California Cattlemen’s Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, California Rangeland Coalition, BLM Grazing Advisory Board, Kern County Water Agency, 4-H beef and swine leader and served our troops New York Steaks out of country with Cooks from the Valley. Bruce believed that no one makes it through this life without a hand up and help from others and was always very willing to give back.

His hobbies included flying, team roping, fly fishing, playing with grandkids, and his dog Sadie. Bruce enjoyed flying his Cessna 182 into the Idaho backcountry, checking and spotting cattle from the air for the cowboys on the ground, being a volunteer with The Young Eagles organization that introduced young people to general aviation, attending and volunteering at Junior Rodeos and meeting up for Rancheros Vistadores and Los Flojos rides.

Bruce was preceded in death by his father Bernard Hafenfeld and mother Barbara Cardwell. He is survived by his wife of 46 years, Sylvia Joughin Hafenfeld, of Weldon, daughter Jessica Hafenfeld Stewart and husband Murt Stewart of Weatherford Texas, son Eric Hafenfeld and wife Jamie Cornwell Hafenfeld, of Weldon, 5 grandchildren, (Cora and Murt Stewart, and Gus, Charlotte and Ward Hafenfeld), his brother Rick Hafenfeld and wife Patty Bates of Sheridan, Montana, Cousin Stan Hafenfeld and wife Jan, Albuquerque NM, Mel Hafenfeld, Glendale, Ca. as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

A Celebration of Life will be announced at a later time. In lieu of flowers please make your tax-deductible donations to: California Rangeland Conservation Coalition, 12233 N. Flynn Rd, Livermore, Ca. 94550 Kern River Rodeo Association, P.O. Box 1296, Weldon, Ca. 93283

Published in Bakersfield Californian on Feb. 2, 2021.

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