The San Quentin community came together on Sept. 18 to pay tribute to the life of Robert Bruce Garrett, 69, who passed away July 30 after a long battle with cancer. He was born Feb- ruary 1, 1950.
Garrett, known to his friends as Lucky, leaves behind dozens of fellow men- in-blue, who said he was their barber. Others said they passed the day playing his favorite game, dominoes. Many more of his friends were in a Christian fellowship with him.
John “Gillie” Gillies be- came friends with Garrett at another prison and while at San Quentin shared a cell with him for seven years.
“When I first came to prison, he was there for me,” Gillies said. “He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes.” Gillies added, “He prayed a lot and always talked about Jesus – he’d read the Bible almost every night.”
Jimmy Carson who’s known Garrett for 37 years said, “I know Lucky is looking down on us.” Speaking about his friendship with Garrett in the free world, Carson added, “I met his brother. One night I had a ’55 Chevy, and we were riding around—we had the music up, enjoying the night.”
Carson talked about recon- necting with Garrett in prison about 15 years later.
“Lucky was at an AA meeting sharing, and I went up to him and said, ‘Are you Lucky?’ I said, ‘I’m Jimmy Carson.’ He said, ‘Boy you got fat,’ and I said, ‘You got old,’” which brought laughter in the chapel from about three dozen prisoners who sat with Linda and Louis Rise, church volunteers who teach a humility class.
“What a blessing Lucky was to Linda and myself,” Louis said. Referring to visit- ing Garrett in the hospital, he added, “We were totally taken aback from the love that was shown to Lucky from every- one, including the correctional officers.”
Kenny Rodgers did time with Garrett at Solano state prison.
“I knew him as a man of God and doing a lot of things for people,” Rodgers said. “I remember being on hard times, and he brought me a jar of coffee.”
Rodgers added, “He was comfortable with what was happening. It’s a joyous time to celebrate his life.”
Billy Dooley spent a lot of time with Garrett at San Quentin.
“I knew him as a man of God and doing a lot of things for people”
“This is real hard,” Billy said. “We used to play hand- ball. They called me Cinder Block—I’m short and fat, but he’d carry me to victory and tell me that I did that.” After some chuckles from the crowd he added, “He taught me how to pray and be serious.”
Billy then asked the audience to take a deep breath, let it out slowly and said a prayer for Garrett.
Here are other things said about Garrett from the men-in-blue:
Lucky was a faithful man to the study of God. He was just a real down to earth guy.
This is not a sad time. We had a good relationship. He had lots of conversations about how far the Lord has taken him.
We miss you cutting our hair in North Block. I know you’re up there cutting hair.
You were always loving and kind. You were always honest in your love for God. I will see you in heaven.
He was my barber. Lucky was a baseball fan. The only fault he had was he was a Dodgers fan.
He’d give me a buzz cut that should have taken two minutes, (but) because he’d talk about God and that’ll make it 15 minutes.
Lucky was an all-around good guy. He was my barber.
Lucky was a Christian. He loved to play dominoes. He’s up there having a blast.
We played dominoes on the yard. When I played against him, I’d try to get him off his game by talking about the Raiders.
Lucky’s favorite passage in the bible is Psalm 23. He espe- cially liked the last line.
Quentin Blues, led by Richie Morris (guitar and vocals), performed somber tunes as well as an original song writ- ten by Andrew “Boots” Hardy (guitar and vocals) with the hook, “Won’t you take my hand sweet Jesus, I’m finally coming home.”
The rest of Quentin Blues are Dwight Krizman (bass), Chris Thomas (mandolin and vocals), Mark Kinney (piano) and Joe Thurson (percussion).