My friend, Bruce Brady, passed away unexpectedly earlier this week. He and I onced joked that whichever one of us went first, the one surviving had to say something nice about the departed. Now, for me, that is at once the easiest and the most difficult of tasks.
You may have crossed paths with Bruce during his long Air Force career. You may know Bruce from his most recent time as a member of the leadership team at Warren FCU, now Blue Federal Credit Union. You may know him from his work life.
But more likely you know Bruce as the guy who helped out at a number of veterans groups in Cheyenne, or from seeing him helping out at the VA. Maybe you met Bruce in the back of the room at any number of community, military, and veteran events. Perhaps he was in your foursome at a charitable golf tournament. You probably didn’t realize he was instrumental in making that event and many others happen.
Or maybe you recognize Bruce as the person who picked up your meal tab that one time, or helped you and your family out when you needed it most.
That’s the thing about Bruce. He was a guy who was involved in many things that make life better for all of us in this community, but you would have never really known it. He never did things for the accolades. He eschewed the spotlight and was always quick to defer to the others on the team that had worked together to make something positive happen or fix a problem.
Shortly after receiving the call with the terrible news from Bruce’s wonderful wife, Robin, I found myself numbly scrolling through Facebook to see if there was anything worthy of reposting on our Cheyenne Minuteman page. I am not one for getting excited about inspiring quotes or social media memes, but as I stared vacantly at my tablet this meme popped up: “Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return, and you will never be disappointed.”
…THAT’S BRUCE, came into my head. And it truly is. He would probably chide me for using this Barbara Lowe quote, but the timing of it showing up forces me to include it here.
“Do everything with a good heart and expect nothing in return, and you will never be disappointed.”
Yes, that’s Bruce in a nutshell.
I was blessed to have lunch with him just a few days before his untimely death. True to form at that lunch, Bruce wanted to talk about how we might be able to help a local veterans group with a big project.
We all have business friends, military friends, family friends, hobby friends, friends we grew up with, college friends, friends of all origins and stripes. We have friends who we do certain things with, friends who sometimes bring us down, and friends who build us up. Friends who tend to lead us astray and those that keep us on the straight and narrow.
If we are really lucky, we have a friend who makes us a better person. Just by being my friend, Bruce made me a better person. No, he wasn’t a saint, although I bet he knows some now. He was simply an example of how to be a good person. As I have spoken with many friends over the last several days about Bruce’s untimely death, there is a common theme. In the first couple of sentences all of them, every one, responded with the phrase: “He was a good guy.”
Yes, I have heard that said about others who have passed away. It is the right thing to say. I have also often heard a hesitation, or a but, in those words said about others. With Bruce there is no hesitation to make this statement. Bruce’s friends, those who know him, understand what I am trying to say. He made us all better.
Bruce’s legacy is not some huge project, political power, organization or event. His legacy is that he quietly inspired many more in this community to get involved, to simply step up and do what is right, what we can to fix problems, to recognize our veterans, and help those that need it. His legacy is the myriad of small actions we can all take that make a difference in our community.
In this time when the goal for too many is to become a social media influencer with hordes of followers in the effort to become rich and famous, Bruce was an influencer of a different sort. He influenced people to do the small thing, the right thing, the good thing through his own deeds. Recently Bruce stepped in to be a pall bearer at the funeral of a veteran with no family, and he was proud of all the other Cheyenne people who turned out in support. The list of his other good deeds, big and small, would fill volumes.
I can feel many of you nodding your heads and smiling as you read this. I know if your life was touched by Bruce, you will continue that legacy of humble leadership and stepping up, that we learned from him. This legacy will help us keep our community the place we love and cherish. Rest in peace, my friend, and know your legacy lives on through all of us.