Even Gov. Gary Locke found it difficult to take a serious approach to his speech saluting the 2001 First Citizen, Herb Bridge, at a dinner in his honor last week.
“Some members of our community are wholly unique,” the governor said, after noting the 76-year-old business leader’s endless contributions to civic, religious and military causes plus the world of “Harley hog lovers.”
Bridge is pictured on the cover of the Puget Sound Business Journal’s “Corporate Citizenship” supplement sitting on his lemon-yellow Harley Davidson Goldwing wearing a “Hell’s Rotarians” T-shirt and black leather pants. The photograph was held up several times during the May 30 dinner by people who were either in awe of the well-loved philanthropist’s youthful exuberance or were jealous of the way he looked in leather pants.
Locke also thanked Bridge and his company, Ben Bridge Jeweler, for always being there for him whenever he forgot to buy his wife a present for Mother’s Day or a birthday or anniversary. And he thanked Bridge for always being there for the community, a theme repeated over and over again throughout the evening. “Seattle has changed very much over the years but we still long for civic heroes,” Locke said, adding that Bridge’s wife of 53 years, Shirley, has always partnered with him, making a heroic civic team.
Brother and business partner Bob Bridge joked about his brother’s commitment to the city of Seattle: “You’ve all heard about loaned executives; well, 25 years ago I loaned my brother to the city and never got him back.” Bob and other Bridge family members worked hard all night to make sure nobody left the dinner thinking Herb Bridge was a perfect citizen, however. Bob noted, for example, that Herb used to steal candy from him when they were kids. And then he read a letter he had written to express his love for his brother and the reply he received from Herb. “Since I was a little boy I always admired you,” Bob read. “Life has been very sweet for me with you as my brother, my partner and my friend.”
The Bridge family was in attendance in large numbers, plus hundreds of people who claimed to be relatives or wish they were, according to KIRO-TV News anchors Susan Hutchison and Steve Raible, the emcees for the event sponsored by the Seattle–King County Association of Realtors and the Puget Sound Business Journal, plus sponsors Pemco Insurance and Tully’s Coffee.
Tributes to this year’s First Citizen included remarks by John Gilmore, past president of the Downtown Seattle Association; George Duff, senior advisor of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce; Adm. Thomas Hayward, who retired from the U.S. Navy as Chief of Naval Operations, who provided insight into Bridge’s military career; and representatives of the Bridge family.
Among the family tributes were the reading of an amusing original poem penned by daughter-in-law Bobbe Bridge, also known as Washington Supreme Court Justice Bridge. There is no room in this issue to publish the poem, but you may call up the Transcript Web site to read the poem some day when you need a laugh. Visit the community news section of www.jtnews.net.