Six decades ago, Bert B. Breedlove was taken with Santa Rosa and made it his family home, but the former Coast Guard chief boatswain's mate also cherished two other locales: the Piedras Blancas Light Station near San Simeon and the Gallatin River in Montana.
Breedlove's Montana property was used in scenes from the 1992 movie "A River Runs Through It." Director and actor Robert Redford walked onto the land one day and asked Breedlove's permission to film there.
Breedlove died Sept. 4 at his home in Santa Rosa. He was 91.
His family remembers him as a superb storyteller who affirmed life.
Grandson Shjon Gilbertson of Windsor said his grandfather could be "gracefully stern" and could engender obedience partly due to "this deep respect I had for him as a man."
Born in Dustin, Okla., Breedlove moved with his family to Westwood, a small town in Lassen County.
After high school, he worked a short time for a local lumber mill and in the summer of 1941 enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard. He went on to serve 20 years with the service, with such duties as overseeing the loading of munition ships in San Francisco Bay and being skipper of an 83-foot air/sea rescue boat in Hawaii.
Breedlove and his wife, Parley Breedlove, were married for 68 years. They had met in the spring of 1942 at El Patio Ballroom in San Francisco.
In 1947, the couple moved their young family to the Piedras Blancas Light Station. Breedlove later wrote that the five years spent there were for his wife and him among the happiest of their lives.
In 2008 the couple returned there as honored guests at a celebration of the federal government's efforts to preserve the site. They stayed then at the lighthouse in the station officer's master bedroom.
"We in effect took a trip back 64 years to our joyful past," Breedlove wrote.
The couple brought their family to Santa Rosa in the early 1950s because "they thought it was beautiful," said daughter Sherry Gilbertson-Bishop of Santa Rosa.
After Breedlove retired from the Coast Guard, he went to work for the state Employment Development Department. He retired in 1981.
In retirement, Breedlove and his wife went with family each summer to their riverfront property in Montana. It was there that Redford visited and later used the property in the film.
Gilbertson said of one scene on the Gallatin where Brad Pitt battles a mammoth fish, "I played right at the spot as a child."
For decades, Breedlove attended First United Methodist Church. He experienced a spiritual "rebirth" about 20 years ago when his wife suffered a stroke, his grandson said. Afterward, Breedlove and his wife prayed together each night.
Along with his wife, daughter and grandson, Breedlove is survived by a son, Richard Breedlove of Santa Rosa; by two more grandchildren, Deon Binderup of Petaluma and Renee Licea of Oregon; by 11 great-grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. today<NO1>Friday<NO> at First United Methodist Church in Santa Rosa.
The family prefers memorial contributions to the Piedras Blancas Light Station Association, P.O. Box 127, San Simeon 93452.
— Robert Digitale