Living Here Guide

For Jay Burbank, Cambria was love at first sight

Cambria resident Jay Burbank sits next to his “Missing In Action” sculpture.
Cambria resident Jay Burbank sits next to his “Missing In Action” sculpture. ktanner@thetribunenews.com

When Jay Burbank falls in love, he does so passionately and permanently. That’s what happened decades ago with the 15-year-old charmer who would become his wife.

“I fell in love with her the instant I met her,” Jay, now 70, said about his wife, Pat.

They will celebrate their golden wedding anniversary this year.

Jay fell in love again in 1992 when he visited Cambria for the first time. He was immediately enchanted by the beach, the clean, fresh air and the small-community feeling.

Fueled by his passion, the couple returned from Los Angeles the very next day to the small, hilly Central Coast village, with its Monterey pine forest.

Within two weeks, they’d bought a house by the sea, which they remodeled.

After Pat retired five years later, they moved in and immediately began volunteering. She’s active in school and music activities, and he signed on as a reserve firefighter and reserve ambulance driver.

A back injury eventually took him off the active list, but the Vietnam veteran found other ways to give back to the town he loves.

Through American Legion Post No. 432, the talented sculptor has repeatedly donated his artwork to the Veterans Memorial Building’s flagstand project.

His metal ghost-image “Missing in Action” sculpture is so haunting, it stops people in their tracks and brings some to tears when they see an outline of a missing military member, frozen in a perpetual salute toward a bugler who plays a silent taps until all those servicemen and women come home.

Jay also created the steel ribbon of patriotic words that wraps around a riser for the flagstand’s step.

He works in wood, too, and created a nearby memorial bench, dedicated to a friend killed in a workplace shooting. On the bench’s back, the trunk of the elaborately carved oak tree is subtly, symbolically wrapped in a ribbon of yellow wood.

On the back of another elaborate wooden bench, Jay sculpted leaping dolphins.

He donated all that and more, as Jay always does with his skills, from metal and wood to photography and other efforts on behalf of others.

Meanwhile, his love affair with Cambria never wanes.

“Every time I drive over the hill and see the North Coast beaches, I’m so glad I’m here,” he said.

CAMBRIA:

Population: 6,426

Key employers:

• Hearst Castle/State Parks

• Coast Unified School District

• Area restaurants, hotels and retailers

Community Events:

• July Fourth’s all-day event, fireworks

• Pinedorado, Sept. 3-5, 2016

• Scarecrow Festival, Oct. 1-31, 2016

• Cambria Christmas Market, Nov. 25-Dec. 23, 2016

• Festival of Trees, Nov. 29, 2016

• Hospitality Night, Dec. 1, 2016

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