Jack L. Bivins
Captain Jack L. Bivins (U.S. Army - Retired), 95, a long-time resident and farm advisor in Santa Barbara, California passed away peacefully on August 31, 2016 in Altamonte Springs, FL. Born in Beggs, Oklahoma on February 28, 1921, Jack was the sixth of 11 brothers and sisters. The son of tenant farmers in rural Oklahoma, his family moved quite often in his early childhood. He left home at the age of ten to work on his own on local farms in order to supplement his family's income and pursue his own education. He worked his way through primary school, and ultimately found an opportunity to work as a household servant in Tulsa, Oklahoma in order to continue his education at Tulsa's Central High School. With war approaching in Europe, he joined the Army in June 1939 at the age of 18 as a private in the U.S. Infantry. He quickly worked his way through the enlisted ranks and was selected among the very first classes in the Army's (then) new Officer Candidate School, receiving his commission as a Second Lieutenant in May 1942. He was assigned to the brand-new Fort Meade in Maryland, where he trained several cohorts of new recruits and draftees. Then, along with many of the men he had trained, he volunteered to join the Allied Expeditionary Force fighting to retake North Africa from Nazi German occupation. Upon arrival in North Africa, he was assigned to the 9th Infantry Division, 39th Infantry Regiment (made famous by their motto: AAA-0 - Anything, Anytime, Anywhere, Bar Nothing - and fearsome record in combat), where he served as a front-line weapons platoon leader and occasional company commander throughout the campaigns of North Africa, Sicily, and the invasion of Normandy. Jack was personally awarded a Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster (wounded twice in combat), two Bronze Stars for bravery, and multiple promotions during his service in combat, and his units (company, battalion, and regiment) were awarded a number of presidential citations for distinguished and meritorious service during the course of his service in World War 2. Jack was grievously wounded on August 3, 1944 by an anti-tank mine, and was evacuated to England and eventually to California for treatment. Due to his combat injuries he ultimately lost sight in one eye, hearing in one ear, and range of motion in one hand and arm, and didn't let any of that slow him down. Shortly after he was transferred to California for treatment of his injuries in late 1944, he met his wife Trudy (Gertrude Wright), and they were married in Los Angeles on May 5, 1945. He retired honorably from the Army as a Captain in 1947. Their first daughter Dayle was born in 1949 and Lorie, their second daughter, followed soon after in 1952. In between treatments for his injuries, raising a family, and making a living in real estate property management, Jack returned to school where he completed his GED (he had been a few credits short of his high school diploma when he joined the Army) and then his associate's degree in horticulture at Glendale College in 1950. He then transferred to UCLA where he completed a bachelor's of science degree in horticulture in 1952. (He also earned a master's degree in ornamental horticulture from UCLA later in his career). He was hired by the University of California Extension Service as a field assistant in horticulture, based in Santa Barbara. Within 2 years, he was promoted to be a farm advisor and extension agent for ornamental horticulture in Santa Barbara County and the Central Coast region of California, and served for more than 30 years as an advisor for the California flower industry. Jack's many contributions to U.S. agriculture include the introduction of drip watering technology and techniques to North America (subsequently adopted throughout the global flower and vegetable industries), and the pioneering of meristem propagation of orchids (an early form of genetic cloning, later extended to many different types of agricultural applications). His efforts in establishing and growing California's floral industry earned him distinction as one of the inaugural class of the California Flower Growers' Association Hall of Fame. Following his official "retirement", Jack continued to own and self-maintain multiple rental properties in Santa Barbara and central California until his eighties. Jack ultimately lived in Santa Barbara for more than five decades, leaving only to help support family members in other parts of the country. He has lived for the past eight years near family in Florida. Jack was also an avid fisherman, skier and outdoor adventurer, often decamping for Alaska or rural Idaho for weeks at a time to pursue the salmon run or fresh snowfall, a renowned family chef, and was a frequent world traveler in his later years. He loved to share his passions - he would often invite as many family members and friends as were able to join him along on his journeys (whether across the world, or across town to a favorite local restaurant), and always insisted that it be at his own expense. Jack was preceded in death by his beloved wife Trudy, daughters Dayle Aller and Lorie Cunnion, his parents, five brothers and three sisters. He is survived by his five grandchildren, Michael Aller (wife Jill) of Winter Park, FL, Larry Aller (wife Monique De Jesus) of Newton, MA, Katherine Cunnion of Kent, WA, Jeffrey Aller of San Diego, CA, and Erin Cunnion of Edmonds, WA; son-in-law Raymond Aller, MD (wife Jan) of Vista, CA, and son-in-law James Cunnion of Kent, WA; four great-grandchildren, Nicholas and Brooklyn Aller, and Natalie and Tomas Aller; sister Mildred (Bivins) Thompson; brother Donald Ray Bivins; sister-in-law Edith Bivins, an extended family of numerous nephews and nieces, great-nephews and great-nieces and their relations, and an adopted family too expansive to detail. A celebration of Jack's life will be held on October 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm PDT at the First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, 305 East Anapamu Street, Santa Barbara, CA 93101. Flowers may be directed to the church, or donations may be provided to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the Red Cross or the charity of your choice.
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