This tribute is written by a Millikan High Student who has interviewed a handful of alumni about Bob Brigham’s impact on his students
Bob would never broadcast the accolades that so many people in the Millikan Community are giving him. He was a very humble man. So humble in fact that even though he was a teacher, his signature line was “if you learn anything it’s your own fault.”
Bob started his career in stage tech when he was in middle school. From there he went to Jordan High School and joined their stage crew. He excelled in his craft so well that he eventually went on to do stage tech for touring shows. One of his personal favorite shows was Elton John. In 1984 Bob got a call that would forever change his life. He was informed by a friend that there was an opening for a job of Stage Technician at Millikan High School. He would stay at Millikan until his passing March 12, 2019.
Photo credit: Shereef Moustafa
It’s hard to write about what Bob did for Millikan High School. An easier article to write would be what he didn’t do for the school. Bob impacted anyone who walked through the auditorium doors. From allowing a student to practice piano in the orchestra pit during lunch to letting teachers working on projects use his saws, Bob helped people that weren’t even a part of the theatrical process. But if you were a person on stage crew, you know that Bob loved you. If you ask anyone on stage crew if this is true they will tell you, “Bob was a second father to me.”
A touching story that was shared to me by one of the stage crew members is as follows: Several years ago one of the stage crew member’s father unexpectedly passed away. A tragedy of this magnitude is devastating and Bob knew that. When the funeral date was announced Bob rallied the whole stage crew together. He picked them up and drove them to the funeral to stand in solidarity with their stage tech brother. When times were tough for an individual in Bob’s Crew, he would be there for support. When times were confusing for an individual in Bob’s Crew, he would offer a helping hand. When times were good for an individual in Bob’s Crew, he would shake their hand and tell them, “good job.”
Bob was there for his crew. The crew all recognize that and love him immensely for it. Many of the alumni who worked with Bob know that it’s an amazing asset if they wanted to have a career in stage tech. Millikan Alumni, Mario Flores, even recalls applying for jobs and being asked by one employer, “You went to Millikan High School? You worked for Bob Brigham? You’re hired.”
Another alumni, Dylan Brownfield, who now tours internationally with Circus du Soleil, said that working under Bob for four years put you four years ahead of most people in the stage tech industry. Bob gave his crew essential hands on experience that most people don’t get until college. He also gave his students life lessons. My personal favorite being, “If they’re paying you, you better be worth every penny. Because when things go wrong you better be worth it.” His industry connections also helped several of the alumni land jobs quickly after high school.
When asked to describe Bob in one word I received these answers: “Irreplaceable”, “unbelievable”, and “legend”. It would’ve been so easy for Bob to go into Millikan High School every day for 35 years and done an average job. But Bob isn’t an average guy. He is an irreplaceable unbelievable legend, and everyone who knew him can verify that this is true.