February 20, 1921 – December 23, 2021
On December 23, 2021, at the age of 100 “Bonavista Bruce” has navigated his final landing. Bruce was born in Alberton. He was a small-town boy who lived an unusually large life.
Growing up in the Depression, his family had little to come and go on, but time was spent playing scrub baseball, hockey and football with the other children from the area including the Cousineaus, Coxes, Boileaus and Steeles. Growing up during the Depression provided a life perspective and value system that is difficult to understand today. Bruce the hockey player was an outstanding goaltender and was invited to the Detroit Red Wings training camp in 1940 during the six team era, but instead chose to join the RCAF and go to war. His exemplary math skills sent him to the role of navigator/bombardier. Following training, he was stationed at Gander Newfoundland in the Bomber Reconnaissance Squadron BR10 – better known as the (in)famous North Atlantic Squadron. Bruce was a key participant in the sinking of U341 and amid heavy anti- aircraft fire he manually operated the malfunctioning bomb bay doors which resulted in the success of the mission. As a result, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross from the Governor General for his efforts. Sadly, his entire crew was killed a month later when they went on leave and their plane crashed on Black Mountain in Quebec. Bruce had given up his pass as he was too far away from Fort Frances to make good use of the 5-day pass and gave it to another serviceman.
After the war, Bruce became a well-known fixture on Scott Street operating Murray’s Music and Gift Store. Bruce often remarked his best decision in life was to marry Barbara, his wife of 73 years. Bruce, an avid badminton player, impressed Barbara (the new high school Phys-ed teacher) by offering to re-string the high school badminton racquets for free. Bruce met Barb at St. John’s Anglican Church in Fort Frances. Bruce was baptized in St. John’s, and other than the war and his later years when mobility confined him, he rarely missed a Sunday there. Bruce supported the community with over 60 years of service to the Kiwanis club, as well as serving on the Board of Education, Borderland Concert Association, St. John’s Vestry, Retail Merchants Committee and other local initiatives. He enjoyed square dancing, travelling and listening to opera and baseball games. His favourite pastime was to spend time at the family cabin on Seig’s Point, Rainy Lake.
Bruce leaves to celebrate his amazing life, his wife of 73 years, Barbara, and their children – Joan Powell and husband Steve, Ian and Marilyn, Dave and Carol, and Rob and Krista. One of the benefits of living such a long life is that all of Grandad’s eleven grandchildren got to know him well and spend decades appreciating his quiet wisdom and love. Also, many of his nineteen great- grandchildren got to know him well.
Tom Brokaw once called “them” the greatest generation – they survived the great depression, served in World War II and came back to volunteer and work to build great countries – not for fame or fortune but because it was the right thing to do. Bruce was a shining example of this great generation. A long life very well lived!
Special thanks to the home care staff who helped to keep Bruce living independently at his apartment until July of this year. Also special thanks to Dr. Nugent and the staff at Rainycrest for making Bruce’s final months enjoyable and his passing peaceful.
Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be held later this year when family and friends can gather.
Online condolences may be made in care of www.greenfuneralhomefortfrances.com.