With the Labor Day passing of Fred Ransom, Big Bear has lost a local legend—though, friends say, it is fitting that the 78-year-old resident of Big Bear City spent his final moments on his motorcycle, likely en route to the Teddy Bear Café, where he almost always enjoyed a late breakfast. Local historian Kim Sweet, who serves as curator for the Historical Museum with husband Tim, tells KBHR, “For 40+ years, Fred was at Teddy Bear or Halls’ Coffee Shop [now Paoli’s] having breakfast every day. In fact, I’m sure he was on his way to the Teddy Bear when this happened because, lately, he’s been having his coffee at noon. He has his own cup at the Teddy Bear–which would be a great addition to the museum.” Not just a fixture at the coffee shop, Fred Ransom was also a Big Bear fixture. Sweet describes Ransom as a “tall, thin, kind-of cross between Abe Lincoln and Michael Landon” and, she says, “He was a very distinguished, handsome Paul Bunyon-kind of guy up until his last day. Fred has been the longest Big Bear pioneer—even Tom Core and Mac McAlister came after Fred. He absolutely adored Big Bear and hated progress; we’d still be on horseback if it were up to Fred.” In fact, Ransom has been in the Valley so long that, as Art Poland tells us, “I have been acquainted with Fred for 50 years, because he was here when I got here. He was a very picturesque individual, and he was either liked a great deal or he was disliked. I found Fred to be very congenial, very polite, and always willing to help any time I called on him.” Ransom has been known for, at one time, owning the only crane in the Valley, which he used to transport the Shay Cabin and the historic stamp mill to the Big Bear Valley Historical Museum. Other stories about Ransom, as recalled by Fred and Linda Goldsmith, include the “emergency” landing of his aircraft on Moonridge Road in the ’60s, and waterskiing on Baldwin Lake following the big winter of 1969. Ransom was also one of the guarantors for the building of the first Big Bear Ski Club in the ’50s and, we’re told, once put his engineering expertise to use in drawing up plans for a Big Bear-San Bernardino tram, plans which he dropped off at the County for their use. Ransom and wife Patricia, who just retired from 40+ years at the Big Bear Library, raised sons Mike and Ray in the Big Bear Valley, though Poland recalls, “He mostly kept to himself because he had his opinions and standards, and didn’t fool around with any compromise.” Though the Sweets were disappointed that their plans to officially interview Ransom didn’t yet come together, she says that they’ve documentation of him at the museum, including a photo of him hanging out at the Navajo in the ’30s. Though funeral services for Ransom have yet to be announced, Poland did note, “I talked to Fred about his salvation, and he said, ‘Oh yes, I read the Bible and believe all that.’” (For specifics on Ransom’s passing, see our story posted September 8.)
Update: As of September 17, there is no date yet for a service to honor Ransom.