Obituary of John Robert Bruce
It is with extreme sadness that we announce John Robert Bruce, 73, of Rensselaer passed away on December 12, 2023. John was born on May 8, 1950, in Albany NY, to parents Gloria and Robert Bruce. He arrived just in time to be brought home for Mother’s Day, which caused his mother to remark he was “a precious little Mother’s Day gift.”
PART I John was a good guy. He could be quite charming and he had a manner about him that would “open up” people and make them smile. He was a passionate story teller, sharing numerous anecdotes about himself and his life experiences.
-John’s brother Michael joined the Marines to help fight in the Vietnam campaign. John’s brother Michael was his hero. John was inspired to follow his brother’s lead and signed up for a 2 year enlistment.
He was 20 yrs old.
-John was sent to Parris Island. He loved to tell stories about drill sergeants and Marines and about Boot Camp protocol.
-He was sent to Camp Lejeune where he was awarded the National Defense Service Medal for involvement as one of the many very young Marines called to stand against rioters during the DC riots, May 1971.
-After Boot Camp, he was sent to Camp Pendleton, San Diego, California where he earned Certification as Field Radio Operator.
-By 1973, John was discharged from Base Camp at Quantico, VA.
PART II John was an avid reader, a blessed habit he picked up from his father. He was constantly reading. He had memberships in a number of libraries, reading on many different subjects. This included papers, bound volumes, as well as on-line books and journals.
That desire to read proved to be the educational tool John used the most in every path he pursued…always seeking knowledge.
He started reading books by authors who had chosen to surrender their lives to God.
These readings opened his thoughts to the awareness that there was much more to life than what he had been living.
John did an about face (military cliché used here)
He became what Jesus called “born again”. (Born again: to start over)
He was intentionally seeking a brand new life.
PART III September 1974, John met Ginger.
Though John and Ginger did not marry until 1985, they became a team immediately. During that 10 yrs between meeting and marrying, they had a busy friendship as they worked on many projects together.
John decided he wanted to start a Jr. High Youth Group at Pineview Community Church. They held weekly meetings, bi-weekly Teen
Nights, plus extra events. They took their groups on trips to Montreal, Boston, Niagara Falls, and sponsored many overnights. It was a crazy time and fun. John and Ginger continued to lead youth groups for 42 yrs.
PART IV John was a member of Teamsters local 294 of which he was union rep, always looking out for the rights of his fellow workers.
-He was employed as truck driver and warehouseman with Grimm Building Materials in Albany where he met and befriended many of the area’s contractors. He was with Grimm for 23 yrs.
-John became a proud member of the maintenance team at Pineview Community Church (aka Albany Alliance Church) where he became “Papa John” to the children, parents, teachers, administrators of Pineview Preschool and the ECEC – Early Childhood Education Center for Disabled Children with Disabilities.
John took great joy in this position. He would start the day by 5:30am and could be found many times at the school very late in the evening, attempting to solve the many “emergencies” that would come up.
PART V Because of his excellent photography skills and friendly manner, John and Ginger decided to team up to create John R. Bruce Photography. In business 35 yrs, they met hundreds of people and created smiles everywhere photographing family portraits, weddings, and sports teams. They were the official photographers for many years of Prom and School Dances for Rensselaer Jr/Sr High School and Cohoes Middle and High Schools. John was very pleased to be specially chosen by many students to photograph their Senior Portrait sessions, both formal (in studio) and on location. John constantly updated his skills by attending professional seminars, keeping up with the latest journals and investing in and studying teaching programs by other nationally known photographers.
Bruce Photography had memberships in National Association of Photoshop Professionals (NAPP), Professional Photographers of America (PPA), Wedding and Portrait Photographers of America (WPPA), and the Capital District Wedding Association.
PART VI John wanted to open the door to others to meet his Savior, but for a guy who could talk a lot, he just could not seem to express himself. He stumbled over what to say and how to say it.
So instead, he put his thoughts into action. He brought together all motorcycle enthusiasts from the church. John would call some of “the guys” (and girls) who, in turn, would contact other riders and they would head out on a road trip. This would give all riders an opportunity to meet new people, and also the chance to get to know and support one another through friendship. What better way to show acceptance than to ride together.
John’s concern also led him to start The Blessing of the Bikes at Pineview. This was a “call” to area motorcyclists from the Capital Region to meet at the church for group and individual prayer over their bikes asking for a season of safe riding. There would be an evangelical service after the event for any rider who wished to come.
PART VII John became a positive influence for others who met him. He was wary for those whom he could see were making choices that would lead them toward a path of self-destruction. A lot of stories were shared of things he had gone through. His stories helped many turn around to a more positive direction.
John’s “conversion” can be found in the words quoted from the following well-loved hymn, written by John Newton, in the late eighteenth century.
This hymn explains it very well:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch (worm) like me. I once was lost, but now am found. I was blind…but
PART VIII On August 23, 2023, John received the unexpected and ugly diagnosis of stage 4 Esophageal Adenocarcinoma. In 3 months time, having gone through much confusion and failed medical attempts to stabilize, his healthy strong body succumbed to the cancer that would take him down.
PART IX John was predeceased by his parents Robert and Gloria Bruce and his in-laws Harry and Betty Barner.
-He leaves behind his wife and partner in all endeavors Virginia (Ginger) Bruce, his son Robert Bruce, and John’s 5 wonderful grandchildren Kaydence, Aiden, Eryn, Brayden, and Kailyn Bruce.
-John is also survived by his sisters Barbara Pollack, and Carol (Lee) Kent, along with nephews Joseph Kent and Lee Kent.
-John’s brother and hero, Michael Bruce, died eighteen days after John, on December 30, 2023, of many cancers resulting from complications from exposure to Agent Orange, from his time as a fighting Marine during the Vietnam campaign. Both John and Michael are survived by Michael’s wife Donna and Michael’s children Michael, Daniel (Marie), and Stacy Streicher.
-John is also survived by the Barner clan: Stephen (Jeanne), Harry (Bud), Philip (Sandi), Paul (Elvie), and Tim Barner, nieces and nephews: PJ (Briana) and Abby, Emily and Elissa, Adam, Daniel and Breanna Barner. Susan Christiansen, Marie and baby Bobby Barner are predeceased.
-Special acknowledgement goes to Uncle John’s special “nieces” Ruth LaBarr and Caitlin Cutting, and to “pretend” grandson little Colton Blowers.
-We give recognition to Debbie Habiniak and to John Habiniak who held an important place in John’s past.
-To the members of Albany Alliance Church and to the hundreds of people around the world who prayed for us, we could not have made it through this very dark time without you. We always knew we were in the Lord’s hands and could feel the strength of you holding us up.
-Thank you to all the motorcycle guys (and girls) from the church. You are the best. Please do not stop. Keep the ride going, invite all your friends and tell them about the hope that is in you. That hope that saved you all – our hope built on our Lord Jesus Christ.
A memorial service celebrating John’s life will be held:
Saturday, February 10, 2024 at 2PM
Albany Alliance Church
251 Washington Avenue Extension
Albany, New York 12205
( Live Stream will start @ 1:15PM / Service @ 2PM )
Hopefully, we will be able to livestream the event, but to tell you the truth, we would rather have you here to share this very special service in person.
Any updates will be posted on this site, along with the Livestream Address which will be announced at a later date.
BUT PLEASE, TO HAVE YOU HERE WOULD BE MUCH BETTER.
IN LIEU OF DONATIONS: As a member of the CMA Christian Motorcycle Association, John would join a national fundraiser ride each May called The Run For The Son. This event sends 100% of donations raised to fund biker evangelism in the United States and around the world.
Donations may be given or mailed to Virginia Bruce* c/o Albany Alliance Church. (Find address above) All donations will then be delivered to THE RUN FOR THE SON May 4, 2024 fundraiser.
Please do NOT make out checks to Virginia (see below)
*Any checks should be made out to: Christian Motorcycle Association
Memo: Run For The Son
CMA is a member of the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA)