One of the unique experiences growing up in a small town is spending the first twelve or so years of your life going to school with the same handful of people, kids you saw jump on and off the bus at the same spot every day, kids who may or may not have played with you on the playground, kids that you learned about the continents, mammals, and algebra with, kids you mingled with at your first clumsy middle school dance then later hob knobbed with at the prom, kids that were, in many ways, just a seemingly permanent as the town you grew up in and the rimrocks surrounding it. If only the latter were true.

I knew Brad from as early as kindergarten. We were never close friends but being in a class of thirty or so we inevitably spent time on the playground and probably had one or two sleep overs. I recall once in second grade he’d lost a toy he’d gotten with a Dairy Queen kid’s meal and empathetic to his plight I begged my parents to take our family there that evening so I could get him another one (sadly they denied my request; such is the drama for pre-teen). We were also in cub scouts together (I recall one frightening episode where he fell and cut his head open on the brick fireplace at his house just a mile or so down the country road from ours). When I was in my late teens and had to be hospitalized, he came to visit and lent me his Gameboy for a week (a huge deal since they were the PlayStation 5 of the day). And as memory serves, he was a regular at the Baptist youth group. Like me he was in all the AP (Advanced Placement) classes but unlike me (and most of our peers, for that matter) everybody seems to have liked and gotten along with him (except our high school English teacher who, having a habit of throwing paperback novels at anyone who made a snarky remark, frequently targeted Brad for her admonitions). Oh, and he was the Penn & Teller of my childhood, performing some pretty mind-boggling magic tricks at the drop of a hat. Last but not least we both shared the distinct blessing (and curse) of having at least one of our parents as teachers in our high school. Good times.

Based on his obituary, we grew to have more and more in common as we matured and threw our hair to the wind. “C’est la vie,” as he might have said in French class (while glancing surreptitiously at his wrist for the translation stored in his Casio calculator watch). C’est la vie, indeed.

For posterity:

November 19, 1973 ~ March 16, 2023 (age 49)

Brad Stewart Cruikshank, 49, of Powell Butte, OR unexpectedly passed away due to a tragic fall on March 16, 2023. Brad was born on November 19, 1973 in Hermiston, OR to Chuck and Nancy Cruikshank. Brad graduated from Crook County High School and attended Willamette University and Washington State University before joining the Marine Corps. He graduated recruit training as the top Marine in his platoon. Brad would continue to excel in the Marine Corps during his four years of service as a forward observer, a member of the Honor Guard and finished his enlistment at the rank of Sergeant. After he completed his service in the Marine Corps, he attended and graduated from Concordia University.
Brad worked as an accountant and most recently as a mechanic and technical support for Durametrics High Tech Electronics. His natural intellect and insatiable curiosity served him well in his professional pursuits.
Brad often described his year as a high school exchange student in Japan as one of the most pivotal years of his life. He carried that same sense of adventure throughout his life by exploring the back roads on his motorcycle and finding beautiful, quiet places to hike and to spend time in nature. Brad sometimes worked by himself on fire watch towers during fire season on remote mountain tops for months at a time where he did some of his deeper thinking.
Of all the natural wonders he explored throughout his life, his most treasured and favorite place was Smith Rock. He returned there again and again, many times on his motorcycle to simply sit and observe the natural beauty.
Brad’s biggest accomplishment was the impact he had on his friends and family. Brad generously gave his time to anyone and everyone that needed his help. He loved to connect in an authentic way with his world, especially within his closest relationships.
Brad was preceded in death by his Uncle Roger and is survived by his parents, Chuck and Nancy, brother Scott Cruikshank (Janae), nieces and nephew Josiah, Abby, Jael, and Lydia and the love of his life, Tiffany Loescher.
A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2023 at 10:30 am at Powell Butte Christian Church.

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