I am a guitarist/singer/music educator and studio musician. I worked at Tower Records Queen Anne store in Seattle in the 1970s and early 1980s. I would sometimes be in contact with the University District store, as well. So I knew Bill Larsen, who became a good friend of Bear's when Bear came to work there. Bill may have introduced me to Bear, I can't recall. But, I used to talk with Bear at work when i was an assistant manager and there was inter-store business. Soon we discovered each other's interest in British folk and folk-rock music e.g. Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson, Steeleye Span, Dave Swarbrick. Bear became the import record buyer for the U-District store and because of his knowledge of the British folk stuff, that store had more selection of that genre than any other record store that I can think of. I am a huge record collector and I would buy a lot of import LPs from that store, simply because Bear kept such great stock of all this cool stuff. I look at my record collection today (maybe 30,000 records) and I know which ones I got from his "section". Much of the time I'd hang out with him when I could at the U-District store and he'd turn me on to some artist or tell me he got something in that I just had to have. He was always right about that!
Then there were concerts. We met up at the Vancouver Folk Festival in July 1983 at Jericho Beach with another buddy, Jeff Ratcheson, a musician who also worked at Tower Queen Anne for a time. Some great acts over the few days of the festival: Richard Thompson, Dave Swarbrick, Simon Nicol (all of Fairport fame), John Renbourn, Stephan Grossman etc. Another show of note: Dave Swarbrick and Simon Nicol at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle in 1984. Bear was with his wife, Dawn, whom I think he'd recently met, (I can't recall if they were married yet). But, I do remember that Fairport Convention, who began having annual reunion concerts during the month of August starting in 1981 in Cropredy, England, advertised tour packages from the U.S. in a Richard Thompson Fan Club newsletter called "Flypaper" that I subscribed to, as well. I believe it was at that Swarb/Nicol concert, that Bear told me they were going to go for it that summer (or maybe the next year, I can't recall). I always wanted to go to one of these events, but never took the plunge. Sure enough, they followed through and at one point, I got the story from him about how rewarding it was.
After Bear left Tower to work in the electronics field (I remember when he told me he was going to move on), I lost touch. The years then roll by. Eventually, in the last couple of years, I got re-aquainted with Bill Larsen and one time I asked him if he kept in touch with Bear. He informed me of Bear's wine business and of his stroke and loss of mobility. I kept planning to look Bear up and take the time to get over to West Seattle and say hello. It wasn't until I got an email from another old Tower co-worker and mutual friend, Rob Weltzien, on January 19th, that I learned that Bear passed away on January 14th. Needless to say, I will always regret not getting a chance to see my old friend again, but I will be honored to be present at the memorial. I am deeply saddened and, although I never knew about his new family, I offer my deepest condolences.
Bear will always be with me through the records I bought from, and because, of him.