Wilbur W. Bruce
- July 26, 2023
Wilbur W. Bruce
Wilbur W. Bruce, 88, died peacefully, surrounded by loved ones, on July 21st, 2023. Wilbur was born in Sturgis, South Dakota on July 7th, 1935, the eldest child of Ora Clarence and Alice Bruce (Horn). After the death of his father in May 1939, he and his two younger siblings, Frank E. and Florence M. Bruce, were left to be raised by his maternal aunt, Frances E. Danniel (Horn), thereafter known as “mom”. He lived in rural Castle Creek, SD briefly, then moved to Rapid City, SD. As a young boy of seven years old, he began selling newspapers on the street corner in Rapid City to help his mother (Frances) support their family. He bought the papers for 2 cents and sold them for 5 cents, hence the phrase he often told his children, “Some days you can’t make a nickel”.
After graduating from Rapid City High School in 1953, Wilbur served in the United States Navy, where he attended Aviation Electronics Technician School and received an honorable discharge in 1958. After being discharged from the Navy, he moved in with his sister and brother-in-law, Florence and Bob Moore, in Rapid City. It was then that he met the love of his life, Gloria Wise, who lived next door.
Wilbur and Gloria were married on June 8th, 1960. In 1961, Wilbur earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. After his graduation, he was hired by Collins Radio Company in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he was assigned to work with McDonnell Aircraft (later McDonnell Douglas) to install radio equipment on F – 4 phantom aircraft. His work assignments sent Wilbur and Gloria to several locations over the next several years, including Virginia and Ohio.
In 1964 they welcomed their son Russell James. After Russell’s birth, Wilbur was assigned to work on NASA’s Apollo project in Houston, Texas, where his roles included training the astronauts to use equipment on the spacecraft, as well as working on equipment that tracked the spacecraft during flight. It was here that Wilbur and Gloria welcomed their first daughter, Barbara, in 1965.
After leaving Houston, Wilbur worked for Lear Siglar Aircraft for several years, and then was hired to work for Lear Airplane Company (later Gate’s Learjet) in Wichita in 1973.
Wilbur and Gloria’s youngest daughter, Beverly, was born in 1974. In 1977, Wilbur moved his family to the Little Rock, Arkansas area, where he worked for Falcon Jet, a private jet company, until 1982. During the mid-1980’s he worked for Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita, and OMAC, a private jet manufacture in Georgia.
In 1987, he moved with Gloria and Beverly to Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where he was contracted to help build a search and rescue aircraft for the Canadian Coast Guard. After returning to the United States a year later, he re-joined Collins Radio Company (then Collins Rockwell), where he spent the remainder of his career traveling between the United States, Canada, and Europe, working on a variety of military and civilian aircraft projects as a lead systems engineer and flight test engineer.
After his retirement in 2002, Wilbur and Gloria returned to their hometown of Rapid City, South Dakota, to enjoy their retirement. Wilbur enjoyed baseball, airplanes, and western movies. He spent many years collecting stamps and coins. He enjoyed coaching and watching his children’s athletic teams and events. Wilbur was a friend to all, and was loved by all that knew him. His colleagues admired and respected him greatly. Wilbur was humble, funny, and kind. Wilbur’s love for his family was immense, and everything he did was for them. He was a faithful and devoted husband, a loving and patient father, and a fun and easy-going grandfather.
Wilbur was preceded in death by his father, Ora, mother, Frances, son Russell, brothers Warren Danniel, Francis Danniel, and Frank Bruce, sisters Elsie Jackson (Danniel) Dorothy (Dolly) Kipf (Danniel), Rose Berry (Danniel) and Florence Moore (Bruce), and sister-in-law Linda Rames.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 63 years, Gloria M. Bruce (Wise), daughters Barbara (Dave) Toews of Edgerton, KS, and Beverly (Nate Goodwin) Bruce-Goodwin of Wichita, KS, grandchildren Ryan Toews, Havyn Jerrell, Kalley Jerrell, and step-grandson Justus Goodwin, siblings in law Robert and Patricia Wise, and Darrell and Darla Hyde, as well as many beloved nieces and nephews. Wilbur’s family would like to give special thanks to the staff at Dove Estates Senior Living and Memory Care facility for the love, care, and attention they showed for Wilbur the last couple of years.
Visitation 9:00 am, Funeral Service will be 10:00 am, both on Friday, July 28, 2023, at Downing & Lahey West Mortuary, with interment of follow at Maple Grove Cemetery, Wichita, KS.
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