Reflections on Fred Bear

I would like to close with a story of the last time that I got to spend time with Fred. It was 1986, I believe, at the Shot Show in New Orleans. I was a small time Bear dealer who got the honor of being invited to a gala party that Bear Archery was holding in a large open-air courtyard on Bourbon Street. I only received an invitation because of a close friendship with my Bear rep, and only learned that I would be going an hour before the party was to start as I was taking in the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street with other dealer friends.

As it was, I was dressed in blue-jeans and a very casual shirt. Upon my entrance into the party I was astounded at the sight. Everyone, I mean everyone, was in suits and even tuxedos. There were flat-bottom boats filled with shrimp, craw-fish, and other appetizers. Free liquid refreshments were there for the asking in the back of the room. Feeling totally out of place, I found a corner in the back of the Courtyard and proceeded to earn back as much of the profit that I had given Bear that year as I could, eating my weight in seafood.

Then, out of nowhere came this large shadow over me. I looked up to see Fred wheeling an oxygen cart in one hand and a cold can of Budweiser in the other. His eyes were on me in the back corner by myself. As he approached with trademark smile of his, he chuckled as he said, “Boy I sure am glad that I am not paying for this stuff any more”. For the next 15 minutes I had the most wonderful conversation with Fred, something that I will always remember. That was just like Fred I guess, singling me out in a room full of big-shots, most likely because of my blue-jeans and boots. This was his style, and the suits and ties were not. I walked out of that party with a brand new wristwatch, a Bear Archery Company watch given to me by Fred himself. Today this watch holds a place of honor in my collection unlike few other items I possess.

Just about two years later I learned that Fred had passed away. But the legacy that he left will never die, the people who collect Bear Archery items will see to that.

Much credit is due to the following people for the research which they have performed over the years, compiling boxes and boxes of information which allows people today to have a much easier time of researching the Bear Archery Company. Among those that I would like to single out for their help in this effort are Joe St. Charles of Northwest Archery in Seattle, WA, Matt Dickerson of Texas, Carl Ruddock of Marshall, MI, Floyd Eccleston of Mt. Pleasant, MI, and most significantly Al Reader of North Haledon, NJ.