Bruce Orchid | Passages


Bruce Roger Orchid was born in San Francisco on April 30, 1947. The second son of Manny and Mildred Mermel Orchid, he grew up in the Sunset district where he attended grade school and Lincoln high school.

Raised in a family tradition of community service, Bruce displayed his people skills early in life as a Boy Scout he was conferred with the esteemed order of the arrow, he was also active in boys state where he was elected treasurer, was President of his high school student body, and he was also active in sports, playing on the 1963 champion Ner Tamid Basketball team. He also played baseball in one form or another from fourth grade until he retired from the Legendary Orcas Whales softball team in 1986. He was the Starting Pitcher. (Boomer #8)

Bruce majored in education at San Francisco State, University of California Santa Barbara and later the University of California Berkeley, where he quit two credits shy of a masters degree to return to San Francisco to teach kindergarten in the Fillmore. In the early 70s he moved to Creswell Oregon, with his partner Nina Zachman, and a group of friends. This turned out to be no more than a brief stop on his journey to Orcas Island.

Bruce and Nina took a job as resident caretakers at West Beach resort in 1975. Bruce signed up to be a substitute teacher at the Orcas school but was seldom called because he was considered a “ Long hair“. Undaunted, he went on to teach at a private school newly organized at the Orcas Grange. Bruce was involved in community theater, where Margaret Exton engaged him in her dream of creating a real Theatre and Community Center on Orcas. Bruce served on the board of the Orcas center at the beginning, was a tremendous fundraiser, oversaw the construction of the facility and created a series of fundraising luncheons on the open-air stage to bring the project to completion.

Bruce was also famously known as the host/frontman of the wonderful Mexican restaurant Bilbos. After Nina left the island Bruce went to work for his friend Christina at her newly opened restaurant. He became famous for being the host,/frontman, bartender and bouncer, there as well. His conscientious work ethic and accommodating personal style made Christina’s a huge success.

Meanwhile, after the Orcas center opened in 1986, Bruce was tapped by Governor Booth Gardner to sit on the Washington state arts commission where he served for 12 years and oversaw the dispersal of millions of dollars to arts organizations throughout the state, serving as chair for many of those years. Bruce was elected county commissioner,in 1988.

Bruce brought a consensus to a politically divided board to create Eastsound waterfront Park, he managed to shepherd a deal to save Madrona point from development and fostered the creation of the land bank, which in the 30 years since has saved thousands of acres throughout the county from development. Bruce was a proud progressive and sought to keep the island’s rural style in place. He also brought forward the plan for trees and sidewalks in Eastsound which came to fruition after he was out of office.

Bruce and Christina were married on September 6, 1988 in Westsound with the honorable John Linde presiding.

Bruce and Christina made their home in Westsound up until 2021. After retiring from Christina’s restaurant after 27 years they continued on with the Saturday markets and Red Rabbit Farm and at that time Bruce returned to his first love — teaching — working with the very successful Oasis program at the school.

Bruce died in his home in Eastsound on January 16, 2023.

He is survived by his wife, Christina, his brother Ron Orchid, his niece Erin, his stepson Peter Lackaff, and grandson, Sebastian Lackaff.

A celebration of life will be held on March 4 at the old school gym at 2 p.m.

Please consider making a donation to the Orcas Island Education Foundation at PO Box 782 Eastsound WA 98245 ( in Bruce’s memory.