bruce's blog

Join us in posting comments and/or blog entries with stories about the life of the magnificent bruce jackson -- tales from the underground, jokes he would have liked, photos, poems, videos, etc.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

I feel like I have two things I need to do: share my thoughts on dad and thank thousands of people. Both of these tasks are daunting to say the least. My father was a fiercely devoted and passionate husband, instilling in Ben and I the importance of holding this relationship above all others in life. He was a man who would don a tux and take the ferry to Bainbridge Island just to deliver a rose to mom or fill her tiny coffee cup hundreds of times each morning as she read the paper. He was an involved and joyful father, teaching us important lessons and terrible jokes. I’ll never forget the last “mandate” dad and I had. He had been given two pedicures by mom and asked if I’d like to go along with him. Knowing how uncomfortable this made him, I gladly accepted. We laughed though the entire ordeal, me telling him how bad his feet stunk and him reminding me that my feet don’t even match, all the while suggesting colors for each other’s nails. We left and quickly went out for a beer agreeing never to talk about this again. He was a silly and caring grandfather, helping Trevor and Colin with projects, reading countless books to them and showing genuine interest in Pokemon, Nintendo, and numerous Lego battles.

What yesterday’s memorial showed me was what an amazing friend and mentor dad was as well and to so many people! He was a humble man who would have been overwhelmed by the 200+ people who showed up and surprised by the ways he touched so many of you. Our family is strong and we will “get through this” whatever that means. But, without the support of neighbors, friends and co-workers (many of you with more than one of these titles) this would be much, much more difficult. We have had people from everywhere helping us though this. The hugs, flowers, meals, prayers, yard work, party planning, cleaning, checking in, cards, donations to Guide Dogs, and countless offers of help have kept us buoyant thought this. Thank you all so much.

I miss my dad more than I thought possible. But I am holding onto the often-repeated idea that, in small and large ways, he lives on in all of us. That is a big responsibility. If you take anything from his life, remember to live each day to the fullest, find your passions and dive in head-first and love your family and friends with everything you have.


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Hello!....My name is Yashar Karaer. Let me take you for some 40 years back. I was a local employee at the American Consulate General in Istanbul, Turkey. Bruce was one of the Marine Guards at the Consulate. When Marines were doing their tours in the building, almost all of the Marines would stop and talk to me and Bruce, being a very polite, always with smiling face nice man did the same. Sometimes, I wondered if he was really a Marine. Anyway, one day he said that on her way to the USA from Nigeria, his fiancee would stop in Istanbul to see him and and will visit some sights in Istanbul. He asked me to help show her around. Hmmmmm!.....A fiance from Nigeria, Africa. How did this blond, blue eyes, slim, handsome guy picked up a fiancee from Nigeria? Well the days passed and one day, Bruce walked in to my section with a young lady. I thought that he was bringing one of the applicants to our visa section. He stopped and said, "Yashar meet my fiance, Mary." Well we met and the fiance from Africa turned out to be an American girl who had been in the Peace Corps in Nigeria. Later, throughout our assignments overseas, my wife and I came across a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers . They practically don't get paid much more than $100 - $125 a month and live almost no different than the locals. They teach English, Mathematics and other subjects in schools. That was not an easy job and comfortable living , and this was the fiance.......

Well, Mary stayed in Istanbul about a week or 10 days, visited the sights, and also ended up buying a leather jacket before she left for the US.

Some months later, I accepted a job in Washington, DC. And few months later I received a call from Bruce. He informed me that his tour had ended and he was in Washington. Mary and he were getting married. He said that he didn't know anyone in the area and asked if I would be an usher during the wedding. I told him that I didn't know what an usher did, but after he explained it sounded easy. Bruce and Mary got married and I performed the usher duty. At the end, Bruce thanked me and said , "Whenever you get married, wherever you get married, I will come and be an usher at your wedding." Frankly, I did not take this promise very seriously. Some days later Bruce and Mary left Washington DC.

Sometime later, my fiance also returned from Istanbul and we headed to Minnesota, her home state, to get married. I wrote Bruce, who was working in Michigan, and told him that I was going to Minnesota to get married and he was invited to be in the wedding. Of course, he and Mary came. Frankly, I felt very bad, because here was this newly married couple, who very likely did not have much money at all and they came all the way from Michigan to be present during my wedding. But at the same time I was so glad he came. He wasn't an usher, but he was my best man. I did not know a single person in St. Paul; no friends, no relatives, no neighbours were present except Bruce. When he and I waited alone in the back room of in the church, we talked a bit and my eyes got wet seeing this man who kept his promise and was the only person whom I knew at my wedding. This was August 8, l969.

Since than, we kept in touch and exchanged Christmas letters from around the world in countries where we were assigned. After our retirement, in August 2006, we went to Seattle to visit Bruce and Mary. Bruce was still the old Bruce, blond hair, blue eyes, tall and slim, well a bit heavier but not much at all and like all of us, lost some hair. We stayed with them, went out and had dinner together. And one day, he, the family dog and I took a walk. During our walk, I told him that I will never forget him for what he did for me. I told him that he is not only my best man, but my relative. What can one say? Bruce took me to a spot and said that he will come here on Sept. 11 in the morning and play his bugle for those victims and told me not to tell anyone.

Two days after he passed away, I myself had a quadruple bypass. Bruce, you rest in peace and I will always, always remember you. Because of my condition, I am not able to be present at this gathering, but I will come and visit you, my friend.

Hi, I'm Arma Jane Karaer, Yashar's Minnesota bride. I know there will be sad tears at this gathering for the loss of Bruce, and happy tears, like Yashar's remembering a man who was an exceptional friend. I too first met Bruce in Istanbul, where I was the vice consul in the consular section, Yashar was the visa clerk and Bruce was a Marine Guard. I hope it is no slur on the Marine Guard Corps to say that in that wonderful bunch, Bruce stood out as mature and sensitive to the local culture. As you can tell from Yashar's note, unlike their bloodthirsty reputation, Turks are very emotional and sentimental. The day Yashar left Istanbul for the U.S., he came in to say goodbye to his co-workers, and Bruce, who was on duty, joined us in the consular section. Yashar, like any good Turk about to take off for a new world, clasped him to his breast and kissed him on both cheeks. Like any good American man, Bruce was wide-eyed and rigid, but extremely kind and understanding. When I think of him, I think of that moment. And now I will think of him playing his trumpet with the angels, with whom he truly belongs.

Monday, February 23, 2009

A drawing of the white hat graffitied in the underground, fitting perhaps as I don't think I'd recognize Bruce without the hat.

So I have been baking in my kitchen today in New Zealand, talking to Jonel and thinking about Bruce. I am one of the people who was lucky to work with Bruce on the underground tour. My tour was a derivation of Chris Spot's tour whose was a derivation of Bruce's.

I remembered how he always introduced me as the red head even years after I changed my hair colour.

I remembered the twinkle in Bruce's eyes. I remember how he was always up for something new. We shared an interest in yoga and painting.

I remembered Bruce working with older people and how you trusted his advice because he was a happy man. Bruce, Jonel and Rick were my guides to being older and their love and acceptance meant and means a great deal to me.

I remembered Bruce shocking me one day when he told me he liked my red pantaloons. Sexy!!!

I remembered how proud Bruce was of his sons and how much he loved Mary. I remember the wonderful advice he gave Max and I at our wedding.

Mostly I remembered laughing with Bruce and pleasant summers in his company... and the hat. Like the gentlemen that he was, never without his hat.

Kd Scattergood
Bruce was such a dear friend and co-worker. Besides being such a joy to work with, I think we probably shared the same wicked sense of humor and that's why we got along so well. At Beverly Park Elementary School where Bruce and I worked, some of the staff had our own 'Poet's Club' and we'd meet on Friday's at the Burien Black Angus for a beverage or two. We'd recite our poems, with apologies to the professional Poets, and sometimes we were late heading for home. One such late afternoon Bruce kept saying he had to leave, but got distracted with our poems and we decided he would need a 'pink slip' signed by Mary to get back into school the following Monday. Our school pink slips were for discipline infractions, to be signed at home and returned before the student/counselor in this case, could come back to school.
I still have that 'pink slip' written on a Stuart Anderson Black Angus napkin. It says "Mary, Bruce is late because we begged him to stay while we watched the naked fire dancer and the aid crew didn't finish resuscitating Bruce until 5:30. They managed to apply salve to most of the burned areas but as he insisted in joining her in the 'poi balls' number, there may be permanent damage. We did the best we could!" Pink slip signed by Reine, Robin, Paul, Becky, Ann, Janyce, Kent, Rita, Eileen and Dan. "Mary, please sign and return." "Wife's signature" Mary signed it and wrote under her signature, "Can't wait to meet this crew."Bruce returned it to school and I still have and treasure that 'pink slip.'

After I retired in 1993, I wrote Bruce a note on some children's stationery that I had. It was decorated on the stationery and on the envelope with colorful crayons. I printed the note phonetically and with some of the letters backward. I also used crayons. I signed it 'your friend' I did not put my name anywhere on it. Bruce couldn't figure out who sent him that 'formal' letter and he asked all the staff and only one person, Judy Maury, our sixth grade teacher guessed it was me. That did it, the battle was on. I received an official looking letter saying that I was to return to 'the home' immediately before stern action was taken against me. He said he would sign me out of said 'home' if I would promise to be on my best behavior.
I have a call on my telephone answering machine from Bruce calling me from the 'Golden Pond Rest Home' and asks if I will call him either at his office or at the institution and let him know where I am so they can pick me up.

On October 11, 2006, I made arrangements with Bruce for a dear friend and me to be part of Bruce's group for the Underground Tour. HUGE mistake on my part, during the first part of the tour when Bruce gathers everyone around the bar after we've gone underground and he stands behind it to make a few announcements, he announced that "a person I know is here with our group and she has been let out of the home for the day for this tour, but be reassured that she has a chaperone with her to keep an eye on her and she is harmless." The tour was on and so was the battle. I have a picture of the three of us on the tour just before the BIG announcement.
So dear Jackson family, I thank you for sharing this wonderful man with the rest of us.

Reine Huntsman

Photo taken on May 2, 2008, surprise breakfast with Michael Fuller, at Huckleberry Square in Burien.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

We are Bill & Sandie Blackley, Molly's parents and Ben's mother-in-law & father-in law. From the moment we met Mary and Bruce we fit like favorite shoes. Bruce and Mary opened their home to us like a brother and sister. Each visit we would hug and then say, "Man.... aren't we the luckiest dads & moms in the world. "

Bill remembers free moments during our visits in Seattle when he and Bruce would knock around in the basement, joking and laughing about most anything. Bruce's funny smile or chuckle would set Bill off on a spell of laughing almost to tears. Our favorite past time, though, was talking about our kids and grandkids and how much we loved them and wanted the best for them. Upon urging, Bruce would get out his trumpet and play. He could play the most difficult tunes and then make them more fun by clowning around with different sounds. He told Bill the story about his Dad giving him the trumpet and how proud both of them were with his playing. He explained the different mouthpieces and how he got to his favorite choice ( # 5) because it offered the best depth for his embrasure. He taught Bill a horn tremolo that Bill practices on his harmonica. He said one of the absolute best times of his life was playing the Voluntary at Ben and Molly's wedding.

We cherish every moment we had with Bruce and will honor his memory. We'll be brother and sister with Mary for the rest of our lives.

We can't be at the celebration of Bruce's life next weekend, but we'd like to contribute to this celebration a poem that Bill wrote a few years ago. This poem reminded us of Bruce's persistent sense of humor and his continuing presence in our lives.

Soul Food (by Bill Blackley)

On a fine June afternoon when
the average Joe stumbles
on loose roof shingles, cart-wheels
past cherry blossoms and ricochets
off the second story window, what
do you think he plans to say
to God, should one be there,
on his jarring arrival? As for me,
I've asked my children to stash
my ashes aboard a train south-bound
for the Okeechobee where they can shake
my carbon into swamp water. Or, they can chuck
my dust off a steam engine whistling
a West Virginia gorge, where
it'll mingle with evening mist in pocket
meadows. Mornings it'll linger
among crickets sawing fiddles. Evenings,
thunder will tremble my soul
off mountain laurel and powder puff
it to black earth where
after a gully washer it'll dance
stream riffles until gill-filtered by a brown trout
fan-tailing beneath rhododendron. There it'll
join scale and fin until a caddis fly snags my host
from the river and a pan becomes a sort of heaven
where in a pecan crumble batter I'll sizzle.
Sandie & Bill Blackley


Mr.. Bubbles is what the kids at Beverly Park called Bruce. Who would of known Bruce was such a clown. This true Professional Counselor, a clown at heart. He surprised us all during one of his last Assemblies at Beverly Park, he did a silent clown act. It was a hoot! He practiced for weeks. He borrowed the P.E. Field day tug a war rope and hung boxer shorts to it, as he tugged on the rope first you could only see the rope, and we wondered who was on the other end. He would stop and scratch his head looking confused, as he pulled and pulled finally the boxer shorts started coming into sight. He had clipped the shorts on the rope as if it was a giant clothes line. As soon as the kids caught view of the boxer shorts, they were rolling in laughter. At the end of the skit he finished up with Blowing Bubbles, though out the audience. After that he was forever called "Mr. Bubbles". I was convinced after that assembly that Bruce really needed to take his show on the road. I was fortunate to have videoed the whole act. I did give a copy to him, so I am hopeful he saved it for his family. At the end of that assembly he had put a lot of work into our first slide show of pictures of kids through out the year. It was marvelous!

Besides being known for Mr. Bubbles, the kids at Beverly all adored him. He made his responsibility at 3:40 to be posted at the main doors, and giving a high five good night to practically every student in the school . Bruce also played piano for all the school assemblies, back in the days before the WASL, we add time to have a school wide assembly every Wednesday morning. As kids entered the gym, he would play the piano, it calmed kids down so they would be ready for assembly time. He had such a calm nature about him, and it most definitely rubbed off onto others. I will never forget Bruce... OOPS! I mean Mr.. Bubbles.

Heidi Jacobson-Beal
P.E. teacher at Beverly Park.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I cannot recall a time when I thought of the "Jackson Family" being separate from my own. As a child, I remember family dinners, nights of laughing and song, swapping houses for fun (I am SO apologetic to Mike and Ben- whomever had to sleep under Holly Hobby sheets while I was fighting glorious battles in Tie-Fighters and Death Stars)(note to Mary- THAT was the way to decorate a kids' bedroom!!!! Right on.) celebrating the marriage of my Dad and Mom Sharon, laughing through the tours of the Underground. Truly, I feel that Bruce and Mary brought me up and helped shape who I am today. One night in particular I am both fond and am embarrassed to remember. It was the christmas party for us tour guides- Bruce and I had collaborated to sing 'parsley sage rosemary and thyme'. We had met for practice several times before without incident, but once we got on the stage, for some reason, all the words went out the window, hum de dum, de la la la la, we looked at each other and laughed till we cried. I will always remember Bruce that way. In moments that I would normally find horrifying, humiliating, or incredibly sad, Bruce taught me to always find the humor. The good. I will hear his laugh, see that bobbing white hat, and feel his hug forever. Love you Bruce. And love to "the Jacksons."

Thursday, February 19, 2009

How devastating it was to discover the passing of Bruce. I cannot begin to tell you how very much I enjoyed having the opportunity to call Bruce Jackson my friend and colleague. I became the principal of Beverly Park Elementary in 1987. Becoming principal of Beverly Park is one of my fondest memories. It was my first principalship. In my early days at Beverly Park, I quickly discovered that I was surrounded by an outstanding staff. I remember the day Bruce walked into my life and let me know he was going to be the counselor at our school. I took an immediate liking to this wonderful man. I just knew at the moment I met Bruce, that we would be great partners. His smile, his humbleness and his genuine sense of compassion were clearly apparent to me at the onset. Then there was his sense of humor. Bruce would say something to me with that deadpan look of his. I'd fall for it hook, line, and sinker - then he would smile and laugh. I know I had been had once again.

In an elementary school there are three folks whom the principal must have by his/her side - the secretary, the counselor, and the head custodian. Reine Huntsman, our secretary, and Bruce made up such a wonderful team. They were good at what they did. I could always depend upon them for wise counsel. I knew that their ultimate commitment was to the welfare of our students. Bruce was such a key player at our school and did so much for staff, parents, and of course, the children. He was a good listener, knew how to fly under the radar, and played a major role in helping others find their answer.

One last thing I would like to share. I knew that Bruce worked in Pioneer Square giving tours. Any time I was in Seattle, I would purposely drive my MG convertible through the square just to see if Bruce was leading a tour. Every so often I'd see him and yell out at the top of my voice, "Hey Bruce." As calm and collected as Bruce was, I took great joy in the shocked expression on his face as the entire crowd turned my way to see what was happening. These were the only times I could "one up" my dear friend.

I miss you Bruce. You touched my life and all those who had the pleasure of knowing you. You are a dear and tender man who will be sorely missed.

Michael Fuller

Friday, February 13, 2009

This is Bruce….a great guide….friend….. and our resident Underground historian

“He is our historian because he was a key witness at the 1889 Great Seattle Fire!” People often booed at my joke but not Bruce he always laughed or shook his head. Sometimes he would reply “Heather forgot to take her meds so just ignore her!” Of course the crowd would just roar with laughter. I guess I deserved it.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know Bruce for that long but you really didn’t have to. I saw people fall in love with him in 90 minutes. There is really nothing else I can say that hasn’t been said here already but I will try. He was compassionate, creative, bold and hilarious. He fought for what he believed in and wanted people to be the best they could be. Just like Lucy said, he was a good guy. I know in my heart of hearts that Bruce has moved on to a better place and will continue to laugh at all our jokes…funny or not.

I hope that my son, Kyle, grows up to be like Bruce. I will share stories of Bruce with him and strive to raise another good guy. It is a tall order but nothing would make me happier. I will never forget Bruce.

Heather Chermak


I was the music teacher and Bruce and I worked together at Beverly Park. We were comrades in the bad joke department and he was one of the only ones with whom I could share my bad humor because of the many women on the faculty. The last time that I saw Bruce was at a David Grisman concert at the Moore Theater that he attended with his son. Bruce took a few lessons with me on the mandolin and we certainly had a great time together. He was an unforgettable kind man. My good thoughts are with Bruce and his family.


Geoff Wilke

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cousin Bruce

My father, Dick, was Bruce's Dad's (Sterling) only sibling and younger brother. Due to the fact that our families rarely lived close, unfortunately, we seldom got to spend time with Bruce while growing up. My older brother, Richard and I were pretty much limited to periodic updates from our parents about Bruce's life experiences.

I remember a visit our family made to Bruce's home: Since Bruce was about 10 years older than my brother and me, he was off in college, I think. Uncle Sterling sensed our disappointment for not getting to see Cousin Bruce so he took us into the garage to show us Bruce's car, a blue Fiat, if I remember correctly. I think Bruce would have enjoyed the puzzled expressions on our faces as we fondled and sat in the car.

About 8 or 9 years ago my wife, Bonnie and I had the opportunity to visit with Bruce, Mary and their kids while on a trip to the Seattle area. What a delight! We had such a nice time catching up and of course we took the Underground Tour. How cool that was! Bonnie and I left saddened that we had not spent more time with Bruce, Mary and the kids, over the years.

A couple of years after our visit, our daughter, Mary and her husband Jason, both freshly minted college graduates had the opportunity to spend a few days with Bruce and Mary while our Mary was checking out a possible internship in Seattle. Bonnie and I thought, outstanding, an opportunity to get back to spend more time with Bruce and his family while visiting our kids. Unfortunately, Mary chose not to do the internship. We were bummed!

I believe Bruce and I share the name of our father's favorite uncle, Jim Bishop. Bruce's middle name was Bishop and my first name is James. When I was a youngster my dad told me that I had been given the name James in honor of his favorite uncle.

I laughed when I read about Bruce's car fetish. We used to say the first thing that wore out on my dad's car was the paint, because he washed and waxed it so often. My brother and I inherited the same disease.

Now Bruce is gone and we have missed out. Mary, kids, and grandkids please accept our condolences.

Greg & Bonnie Jackson

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Joke-Off

My sister had the good fortune to marry into the Jackson family, and so I got to know Bruce and Mary as well. Whenever we visit Seattle, we've always been welcomed for a dinner or two at 7514 58th Avenue NE.

Like so many people who have posted on this blog, I can tell stories about Bruce and Mary's kindnesses to us. They shuttled us back and forth to the airport and hosted us for dinner and took a grandparent-like interest in our two boys.

When Lauren and Mike were renovating their house, we planned to visit them in March 2006. We knew for SURE that the construction would be done by that time... but it wasn't. Lauren and Mike were still living on 58th Ave., and Bruce and Mary welcomed us in - bringing the total in their house to four extra adults and three extra preschoolers. Wow! We had a great time, and now I'm especially glad for that unexpected opportunity to continue getting to know Bruce better.

On one of our visits to Seattle, Bruce and Mary had us over for the traditional flank steak dinner. Afterward, my husband Jeff sat at the table with Bruce and the two of them began telling jokes. (Next to Bruce, Jeff loves telling a joke more than anyone I know.) They went back and forth - a joke apiece - while the rest of us faded away from the table. (We didn't do the dishes, though. That was always Bruce's job, no matter what.)

In the end, I think the two of them swapped jokes for almost an hour. They were very pleased with themselves! I've thought of that evening often and I'll always chuckle when I remember it: Bruce being Bruce.

A poem for Bruce

This Navajo prayer seemed to be Bruce talking:

Do not stand at my grave and weep;
I am not there.  I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

You will live in our thoughts and memories.
Linda Ward


Bruce also loved a clean mouth. He especially loved stim-u-dents and preached the message of their powers far and wide.


Bruce Jackson has been one of my many adopted parents that i've collected in my lifetime...and what a gem! His love for the beautiful things in life--music, dogs, kids, nature, family, jokes--has been something to admire as we all need reminding about what it most important in life.

Bruce also really liked clean cars. boy-oh-boy, a man after my own heart. I have scattered memories of visiting Bruce and Mary and him shining up the newest vehicle that they have parked in that treacherous lot of theirs, and the pride that he took in doing it!

Moreover, Bruce and Mary's relationship has always been one of balance and one worth modeling. Perhaps her job was to dirty the cars so he could clean them?

Miss you, Bruce.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Living Bruce's Legacy

I am one of many children the Jackson's have "adopted" into the folds of their loving family (those of us know who we are). Most of us have never known a father's love like Bruce's. We may have wished for it, but only seen it in the gentle, hat-wearing, underwear modelling, "charcoal only" BBQing, Bruce Jackson.
The attraction to the Jackson family is almost magnetizing for us dysfunctional types (those of us know what I'm talking about!)- yet Bruce and Mary graciously open their doors and welcome us in, teaching us how to be less dysfunctional and in the process, laughing with us about our dysfunctionalism (or maybe that was just Mike).
It reminds me of recently Salsa dancing with Bruce and Mary.
Just a few weeks ago, Ron and I, who know nothing about dancing, of any kind, were lured into the invite by the guarantee of Bruce's humor and Mary's ceaseless encouragement. While my husband and I bruised and battered one another on the dance floor, Bruce and Mary glided by.
I'm not sure if it was 40 years of marriage, dance lessons or a little mind-reading, but they were fluid in each other's arms; attentive to one another, smiling and joking, and laughing along the way. Ron and I stood in awe (and ok, a little jealous).
Later, I got the chance to dance with Bruce. He took my hand with such strength and confidence, as I tripped over his feet, squeezed his hand and stepped on his toes; yet with grace and laughter he held tight--steering me in the right direction, hugging me at the end of our dance, sore toes and all.

Salsa dancing, was only an one example of Bruce's character in action. I see it as only honorable to remember Bruce, my dear friend and adopted Father, by his legacy;
By weaving into my life those things Bruce taught me, through how he lived, and who he was.(He would find this so embarrassing!).
Just a few of them are these:
Be attentive to the one you have been given to love- and smile and joke and laugh along the way.
Adopt those who are in need of a family.; or at least a healthy one:)
Give generously (so many good times had because of Bruce's generosity and the Underground's tips!)
Love your family deeply
Embrace life by doing the things you love
Treat others better than they deserve
Extend grace, guidance and love to your children in their successes AND failures
My words fall short for such an incredible man, adopted father, and friend.

May my life be changed because of the time I spent with you--Its been my privelege Brtz. You're a class act.
Love, Paula


A lot of Bruce's life is captured on the wall of his downstairs den. For me, the wall captures what a full life he had. It's been a while since I stared up at those pictures, so forgive me in my memory fails me or if the pictures have migrated elsewhere in the house.

The wall has pictures of Bruce in his ever-present lifeguard hat, and pictures from his days as a Beach Club lifeguard. He's pictured in his army greens, which always surprised me because it seemed so at odds with his gentle nature. The trumpet makes a number of appearances. If I'm not mistaken there is some fraternity insignia, which may have been a dental or pharmacy-related organization. (That always confused me.) I don't remember pictures of his dogs, but I suspect they are there somewhere. A bathroom downstairs always had an ode to the inventor of the toilet, and the hero of the Seattle Underground, Sir Thomas Crapper.

Pictures of Mary and Bruce capture their younger days and subsequent years together. There are of course pictures of Ben and Mike running around with classic bowl cut haircuts. Ben and Mike inherited Bruce's sense of humor, making the Jacksons the funniest family I know.

We'll all miss Bruce, but it's nice to know that he will always be remembered.

You can tell he's a "Good Guy" he is in a white hat.

Bruce Jackson was a "Good Guy". You know like in the movies. He was warm, generous and charming. He would run to your rescue, like when fellow tour guide Kim Wallis injured her leg in the underground, even though he himself had an injured leg. He offered guidance and served as a mentor, some of the best tour guides at the underground think of themselves as "Bruce knockoffs". When Bruce would give the introduction for the underground tour the entire crowd would fall in love with him, but he was so generous in his introduction of the other guides that when they reached you they never felt dissapointed. He was reliable,punctual and dependable.
Giving the tour since Bruce's death has been undescribably odd. We all tell the same stories, in our own voice, but we sure do steal material from each other. So, there have been times when I am speaking Bruce's words. It feels so peculiar to be in those places that he had been so many times speaking his words and realizing that he is gone. But in a sense he is still there. Living in his words. I am sure that we will miss him forever.
He wore that white hat. Good guys always wore the white hats, and he was no exception.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

"Raw sewage literally shot THMMMP off the side of that cliff, ladies and gentlemen"

I worked as a guide from 1989 - 2001 and clearly remember being introduced to Bruce by Jo-Nell who described him as "the gentlest tour guide." I soon learned exactly what she meant. The first intro I ever saw him give started quietly and then built and built until I was bent over with laughter. I don't know how many mics he burned through when he'd say, "Raw sewage literally shot THMMMP!!! off the side of that cliff, ladies and gentlemen."

Once Bruce asked me to cover a tour for him for either Mike's or Ben's graduation from something-or-other. A few days later, I got a hand-written note thanking me for the favor and telling me how wonderful the experience had been. (And here I thought getting paid was thanks enough.) I, too, was always soooo happy when I saw BJ scheduled for the same shifts as me.

The world was definitely a better place with Bruce in it.

Laughing with Bruce

One Bruce story that I thought I would share . . . . A few years ago, Brae and I came out to Seattle for Thanksgiving and Bruce was nice enough (as was his style) to drive out to the airport and pick us up. On the 20-30 minute drive back to the city Bruce regaled us with stories of his antics in shuttling around medical students interviewing at the University of Washington for Residency. I recall a story where he had some of the prospective students thinking that he was actually an interviewer and, another time, that he was one of their fellow interviewees! Safe to say he had us laughing most of the drive. We will miss Bruce's infectious humor, smile and love of life.

Thinking about you often . . . we love you and hope you can feel our support from across the country.

Seth and Brae

when i grow up

I met Bruce when I was 19 years old. I had come to the Underground to take a few tours in preparation for my audition to be a tour guide. His Underground Tour was the first I ever took. I sat in the front row and watched as Bruce quickly wrapped the entire room around his finger. He was amazingly fun and wonderfully cheesy. I was in awe of it all; the hat, the ease, the warmth. I remember thinking I would never be as good as he was. I wanted to grow up and be just like Bruce.

He was the kind of man you could always count on for a smile and the grace to let the bad stuff fall away. Thinking of him reminds me to slowdown, to forgive, to be humble, to celebrate all of the little things and to laugh out loud.

Bruce and Mary gave us a baby monitor when our daughter was born. I don't think I ever told him so, but hearing my child through that little speaker has often made me think of Bruce and Mary and feel hopeful that we could build as strong a family as they built together. Thank you Bruce for all of these gifts. I still want to be Bruce Jackson when I grow up.

Penny Truitt

wonderful life

Bruce has been such a constant, wonderful, calming influence in my life these past 20+ years. He was always there with a hug and smile. I valued his wisdom and loved his humor. He made me laugh and I always felt so comfortable when he was around. I will miss him so much.

Some of my favorite memories are sitting down together with our calendars and figuring out trades and talking about our plans and families. I feel so grateful to Mary, Bruce, Mike and Lauren and Ben and Molly for including me in on their celebrations. Such an amazing family.

Bruce would always tease me about the short length of my tours. We had a bet one day that he could beat me in. I thought to myself this would be an easy five dollars, because there was no way Bruce would be able to deprive his group of even one story or take any less time to bond with them. When I saw him heading down the stairs ahead of me I couldn't believe it. Sitting behind the tour guide desk, his group loved him anyway and I was out 5 bucks.

I keep thinking about the movie It's a Wonderful Life and I know Bruce touched so many of our lives in such incredible ways. I just feel so blessed to have known such an amazing man.

Jo-Nell Simonian

the man in the hat

We tell stories. We tell stories to connect, to understand, and some of us tell stories for a living. Bruce did that. Bruce did a lot. Now, I find myself sharing stories of him; laughing and crying we have many to tell. His hat, his giggle, his laugh, his scooter, Mary, the kids, the grandkids, the dogs. He was a son, a husband, a dad, a grandpa, a friend to many, and so much more. We are all more than the titles we bear. We are what we do, what we say, and what we live. Bruce was genuine and he set an example.

He loved life, he loved people, he didn't speak ill of others, he would simply shrug off the ill-behaved, saying something like maybe they are having a bad day, or he would shake his head and say “that's too bad" like he knew it was too bad for them that they were that unhappy.

He cared about so many people and about so many things. His interests were many, music, volunteering, guide dogs, beer, friends, dancing with his wife. And oh how he loved Mary. You could see that when she came to see him at work, and when he spoke of her. He told me he was lucky. He loved his family so much and was so proud of them.

What stories do I tell? I can tell you all he would give me hug when I was hurting, or if we hadn’t seen each other for awhile. He would always greet me with a “Hey TJ!” I would ask him about his secret, free, parking space, he wouldn’t tell me, and just smiled( he often smiled). I just know he rolled in on his scooter from that hidden spot. He and I wore out The Shins CD I made for the tour, and he was so happy when I gave him his own copy to take home. As Larry said, working at the tour with Bruce was special. Bad Bruce punch lines: “ Well, if you looked out those windows, well, you wouldn’t see windows…” “ …beautiful Pungent sound.” I worked with him for twelve years and learned to work the room. He always chatted with the people before the tour, and I began to copy that move. It made the job even more enjoyable (that is saying a lot!).

This tour has been much more than a job for me, it has been a place I feel welcomed, and at home, it has been a family, and it is and always has been, the people, those like Bruce Jackson, who helped to create this bond. I cannot recall Bruce ever being down. He was always laughing, sharing, connecting and being Bruce. He touched my life in a very deep way and I am going to miss him. The tour will not be the same without the man in the hat.

He lived beautifully, simply, full of love and light. He will leave a void, yes, but a void we should fill with memories and life. A void that will be large, but it needs to be, for Bruce was a great spirit, and the life he led will need a lot of space for remembering. I love you Bruce.

Terrilyn Johnson (TJ)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

"Light up - Blow up"

I had the absolute pleasure of working the Underground Tours with Bruce for twenty years. The bond I felt with Bruce was immediate, strong, and lasting, and he was the main reason I stayed at the tours for as long as I did. “Light up-blow up” (no smoking) is the ending punch line for probably the lamest joke in Bruce’s introduction, a fact that we mercilessly teased each other about for years. We’d both try and deliver it better than the other, usually to limited response from tourists, but great fun for us.

For many tour guides, a good day at the tours would consist of large, responsive, friendly tourists who tip generously, and a bad day would be screaming kids, grumpy people, 90 degree temperatures, and an empty tip jar. For me, however, a good day at the tours was simply being able to work with Bruce.

There was never a bad day when you shared it with Bruce Jackson.

I watched Bruce interact with people from all over the country and world, and he always did so with kindness, humor, and a gentleness that made you feel special. He touched thousands of people’s lives in a positive way, and I consider it a blessing to have been able to work with him and call him for a friend for all those years. He will be sadly missed, yet fondly remember for years to come.

Larry Taylor

Bugling at Tahoma

We had the honor of working with Bruce as part of the Bugler Corps at Tahoma National Cemetery. He spent 5-6 days a month there, in addition to special events, providing military honors for deceased veterans. He was an excellent player and a good friend. He will be missed. Attached are some photos from May 2007, a national celebration of Echo Taps at national cemeteries throughout the country.
Reid June and Debbie June Dawson

Friday, February 6, 2009


It has been a gift to my life to know Mary and Bruce since our graduate school days at UW. They were the couple who brought people together in their home for pot lucks and sharing. So gracious and so welcoming of us all. All through these 30 some years. Always gracious and welcoming. He so obviously loved and was proud of Mary and his sons. And so delighted as the family grew and added Lauren and Molly and Trevor and Colin and sweet baby Will. Bruce was a man who had a quiet confidence that he was in the right place at the right time; and so he attracted love and joy all around him. May that love and joy of Bruce continue to bless his family.
Sharon Beck

grandpa brtz and baby will

Baby Will and Grandpa Brtz had a special connection.

When Will was one week old, he still hadn't slept for more than about an hour at a stretch. Bruce and Mary came to visit us at our house, and as soon as Bruce held him, Will fell asleep on his shoulder for the rest of the evening -- bruce loved to hold him, swing with him, feed him (creme brule!), and walk him around the house.

As Will grows up, we will keep Grandpa Brtz alive in our hearts by telling his stories, visiting the underground, trips to La Push, listening to trumpet music, telling jokes, teaching him to brew beer, and giving him a warm shoulder to fall asleep on. We'll miss you, Bruce, and we love you so much.

A Quiet Moment, Christmas Day

David and I (Lauren Jackson's parents) consider it a great blessing that we visited Lauren and Mike this Christmas. It was the first time they had not come to us in Pennsylvania, and instead we went to them. Because of that we were able to see Bruce and Mary, and the family, together at a happy time. We arrived in the midst of a snow storm and Bruce kindly drove Mike and Lauren to the airport to pick us up because of their 4-wheel drive car. The drive home was rather nerve-wracking but Bruce was his usual capable, patient self. It was typical of Bruce to do that and we appreciated it very much.

This photo shows him in his chair in front of the windows with a magnificent view, which he and Mary enjoyed for so many years.
God blessed us with the chance to be with Bruce one more time, and we'll be forever grateful.
Bruce was so kind to me while dealing with my grandmother's troubles after her husband and Bruce's father, Sterling, passed away. I enjoyed keeping in touch with him and always considered him a person who was thoughtful, understanding, yielding, compassionate, and accomplished with a loving family. What a likeable person! I only recently learned that we shared a love of dogs. My thanks to Bruce's family for remembering my grandmother during the holidays. My heart pours out to you all.

My mother Linda Kolhouse-Huffman, my brother Chris Kolhouse, and my brother Ron and his family join me in my sentiments.

With My Sincerest Sympathy,
Nicki Kolhouse

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


These are some of my favorite photos of Bruce with Trevor when he was two. I loved hearing Bruce play all of his instruments--wooden flute to soothe a grandson to sleep, mandolin, piano, Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring on the trumpet at our wedding to accompany Ben on guitar. When we lived in Bruce and Mary's house in 2005-2006, Bruce began playing taps at Tahoma cemetery. He practiced every day in the den with the door closed while the boys and I were there and the sound of that beautiful song became a familiar background to our lives. I always thought that when Trevor and Colin hear taps any time in their lives, it will be familiar and precious to them because of those hours of listening to their grandpa play it.

bruce was a natural