Novelist and historian Gerald Haslam, an Oildale native, died Tuesday after waging a fight with prostate cancer that lasted more than 20 years. He was 84 and lived in Penngrove, near Sonoma State University, where he was a professor of English for 30 years.
Haslam, a graduate of Garces Memorial High School and San Francisco State University, visited Bakersfield several times a year well into his 80s, making formal and informal appearances at Bakersfield College, one of his alma maters, and events including Dust Bowl Days.
Haslam was perhaps the most decorated writer in Kern County history and surely one of the most prolific. In addition to hundreds of essays, short stories and op-eds, he wrote 21 books, including "Coming of Age in California," "The Great Central Valley: California’s Heartland," "The Other California," "That Constant Coyote," "Workin’ Man Blues: Country Music in California," "Straight White Male," "Grace Period," "In Thought and Action: The Enigmatic Life of S.I. Hayakawa," "Okies," and "Haslam’s Valley." Critic David Robertson labeled him “the quintessential California writer.”
Haslam received dozens of honors for his work including a Ralph J. Gleason Award, an Eric Hoffer Award and two Josephine Miles Awards.
Columnist Robert Price will have an appreciation of Haslam in Sunday’s Californian.