If you knew Bruce Barefoot, you were lucky enough to know one of Virginia Beach’s true characters.
After years of working at the grain elevators in Norfolk after graduating from Bayside High, he finally realized a lifelong dream and opened Footer’s Sports Pub.
Over 30-some years, the business grew and along with it his reputation as a serious sports fan, generous “give-you-the-shirt-off-his-back” kind of guy, diehard Elvis fan, talented pool player and a person with a somewhat strange sense of humor.
He ran one of the most unique “one-call-does-all” catering businesses in the area that provided anything imaginable. If you wanted something special at your event, he would go to all lengths to make it happen.
Few called him by his full name.
He was Footer, sometimes Foots.
He was also one of the true great friends in my life.
He passed away Saturday morning.
He will be sorely missed by a ton of people throughout the region.
You might ask why I’d be writing about him on a hunting and fishing website. Here was a guy who was a talented athlete during his day and a huge supporter of local athletics.
He wasn’t known for any kind of outdoors prowess.
I would have written this anyway, but over the last several years, he started to show a real interest in fishing – often wetting a line at a small pond on Knott’s Island where his girlfriend owned a cottage. He was usually joined by Harvey Caldwell and Jay Smith, sometimes by myself.
The four of us last spent a few hours there on a warm October day. Bruce caught the bass in the picture – a fish that remarkably grew in size as soon as he released it.
Pretty sure it was a 10-pounder by the time he got home.
Yep, he was showing real promise of becoming a true angler.
As I write this on a tear-soaked keyboard, the memories of years gone by – the softball tournament trips, partying in Vegas and at the bar, the physical basketball and volleyball games when we were much younger, just shooting the breeze over a cold one, playing cut-throat at the bar into the wee hours of the morning – are all screaming through my mind.
A lot of people are really struggling with this one.
So long dear friend, our little part of the planet is not going to be the same without you.