Paragliding accident claims
life of Amgen pioneer
by Kelly Feser Eells
Bruce Wallace, longtime Ojai resident and Amgen pioneer, the
world-renowned biotechnology firm headquartered in Thousand Oaks,
died in a paragliding accident Friday in Inyo County. He was
Amgen, which made Fortune 500's 2002 Most Admired Companies list
- with an overall industry (pharmaceuticals) ranking of number
six - has had a well-deserved reputation in both the corporate
and private sectors for the 20-plus years of its existence.
Wallace, like the company he worked for, was both innovative
and socially responsible. Though often credited with being a
company co-founder, Amgen's Barbara Bronson Gray, associate director
of media relations, smilingly points out that, "Bruce considered
himself one of its early employees - which, of course, he was.
And also one of its most important scientists."
Continuing, Gray adds, "It's such a loss. Bruce was such
a kind, intelligent man; a very gentle soul. He'd always slow
down to talk with you about anything, and was really, genuinely
interested in how everyone was doing, what they thought. Though
very successful by the business world's standards, you'd never
know it. He came off as a 'regular guy.' He touched a lot of
people, and was always interested in making the world a better
Though Wallace had officially "retired" from Amgen
in January of this year, he'd been working with the Ventura County
Community Foundation - a charitable, grant-making organization
long associated with Amgen - on "strengthening philanthropy
in the community."
VCCF President Kate McLean remembers Wallace for his kindness,
generosity and intelligence, echoing Gray's sentiments. "He
was a brilliant man funny, charming. He chaired our grants committee."
Ojai resident Dave Farber met Wallace through his involvement
with the Ojai Shakespeare Festival. "We served on the board
together," said Farber, who's known him about five years.
"And he, as well as his wife, Marilyn, have both been active
in the Ojai Camerata. They're just really, really great people.
It's a terrible loss."
Gray concurred. "He was always very committed to science,
education, kids, the community. Constantly giving back in every
realm of life. My condolences to the city of Ojai."
A father of four, Wallace will be remembered privately by family
and friends on Saturday, Sept. 28.
© 2002 The Ojai Valley News
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