Rex Lee Bruce

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Our dad, grandfather and husband for the first time in several months, he walked, straight into the gates of heaven early in the morning of Aug. 31, 2022. He no longer felt pain, only jubilation as his eyes first glanced at the face of God and the wonderment surrounding him. We know that he quickly embraced so many of those that had passed before him. What happiness he felt in that moment. We can only imagine the smile that emanated from his face. Rex Lee Bruce was born to his loving parents, Chester and Nola Bruce, on Sept. 8, 1950, in Nevada, Mo. He was the fifth of seven children. He grew up on his family’s farm north of Walker, Mo. He had fond memories of this place and spoke of it often. While still in school, his family moved to their new farm, to what they fondly referred to as the “home place." Once arriving there, he and his siblings were delighted to find they had their very own fishing pond. Excited to fish, they quickly came to the realization that not a single fishing pole was around. This didn’t stop him nor his siblings from their inaugural fishing trip. With their mother’s advice, they found the perfect tree limbs to use as their poles and safety pins for their hooks. What an adventurous and, believe it or not, productive fishing trip it was.

He attended Walker High School from Kindergarten through graduation, graduating with the class of 1969. He then attended C of O in Point Lookout, Mo., pursing his bachelor’s degree in education, graduating in 1973. His time at C of O was one of his most beloved. He not only met the love of his life, Betty, but found his second set of parents, Doc and Mrs. Good. Doc Good was the president emeritus of C of O and Rex worked for him during college. One of the most treasured stories of this time is how he pulled all the weeds from Doc’s Garden, only to find out that many of those “weeds," were Doc’s beloved asparagus plants. Doc and Mrs. Good loved him like their own child and he the same. Doc and Mrs. Good were forever a part of his life, even considering his children their grandchildren.

In his youth, Rex attended the First Baptist Church in Walker, Mo. It was at this church he accepted the Lord and was baptized. He leaned on God in the good times and even more so in the trying. Throughout his college years, he attended the C of O church in Point Lookout, Mo., most Sundays were spent in the pew, with his future bride by his side. Rex, Betty and their children later attended the Sulphur Springs Baptist Church in El Dorado Springs, where he taught Sunday school for a while during this time. Later in life, Rex and Betty attended the Walker Christian Church in Walker, Mo.

When he was younger, he took up a Grit’s route, selling the newspaper around Walker. He always said he did this so he could have his favorite, chocolate milk, for his school lunches. He would tell of his days delivering those papers for many years to come. He enjoyed this task, gaining many friends throughout the town of Walker.

While attending a Fourth of July celebration in the summer of 1969 he met the love of his life at Table Rock Lake. To introduce himself, he decided to splash the girl who just entered the lake. When he realized this wasn’t fully catching her attention, well it sort of was, but was also annoying her, he decided to dunk her in the water. This is the story of how he met his one true love. They were married on Sept. 4, 1971, and celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. A few years later, their first child, Tammy, arrived to bring a new level of adventure to their world. She quickly became daddy’s “Chiggerbite." Two years later, their son, Timothy, arrived. He completed their family and became Rex’s shadow on the farm.

After graduating college, Rex taught middle school in the Bradleyville school district, until moving back to his hometown a few years later. After he and his wife moved to Walker, he began teaching fifth grade in the Rich Hill school district. A teacher’s pay was low and his desire to provide for his family was great. He chose to leave his teaching career to take a job at 3M. After leaving 3M, he worked at FRAM/Honeywell for 27 years until its closure. He then worked for the State Hospital and later for Walmart in Lamar, Mo., before retiring due to his first cancer diagnosis. Though, his favorite “job” was checking and feeding his cattle.

There was never a stranger in his world, easily striking up a conversation with anyone. With a heart of gold, he felt it his mission to help others. After retirement, he enjoyed volunteering at the local food pantry, his way of giving back to those in need. It gave him a greater purpose. He was known to give a ride to anyone who needed one or help in any way he could, giving his last dollar if needed. If the shirt were needed off his back, he would gladly give it to anyone and ask for nothing in return. His heart was enormous, giving and at the same time very forgiving. He always took the time to think of others, usually finding the perfect gift that had a special meaning tied to it. His memory was known to outlast most others, recalling almost all details of conversations and events. Injustice was his cause, always looking out for the underdog. He was a devoted son, caring for his mother each day until her passing in 2012. In addition to his giving and loving nature, he was also known for his practical jokes. He loved to put a smile on your face and was known for his ornery antics. He loved to tell stories and jokingly add a little extra to give you a chuckle.

Of his many talents, he was an expert in Duct tape repairs. He believed Duct tape could solve almost anything broken and often put that theory to test. If you drive by the farm and see a massive amount of duct tape somewhere, you know he was trying to “fix” something. With a little imagination and duct tape, any household repair was solved.

He counted them as some of his greatest blessings, his grandchildren - Dalton, Landon, Hadley and his great-grandson Bexon. Some of their fondest memories include “pops” picking them up from school and taking them for a treat afterwards, usually buying way too many donuts and cookies for himself and his grandchild to consume. He spent many evenings watching ball games, weekends watching rodeos and summers at the fair just to celebrate and cheer on his grandkids. His love for them was immeasurable. He worked to encourage them in every way he could. They each considered “pops” a huge part of their lives and will dearly miss his contagious humor and words of encouragement.

Rex always had his family’s best interest in mind. He worried about them more than they worried about themselves. He looked over their safety by becoming their strongest prayer warrior. Even on his roughest days, he found a way to offer an encouraging word. His was a light in the dark, our shining beacon. He will be greatly missed here on earth, but we know this parting is only temporary. For we will meet again someday. Until then, it’s simply see you later.

Rex was preceded in death by his parents; sister, Shirley Bruce; and brother, Chester Jr.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Bruce of the home; children, Tammy (Gavon) Hutchison, Harwood, Mo., and Tim Bruce, Walker, Mo.; grandchildren, Dalton (Caitlin) Bruce, Adrian, Mo., Landon Hutchison, Harwood, Mo., and Hadley Bruce, Nevada, Mo.; great-grandson, Bexon Bruce of Adrian, Mo.; sisters, Debby (Dennis) Blankenship, Nevada, Mo., and Mary (Robert) Kinney, Justin, Texas; and brothers, Roy (Lavonna) Bruce, Springfield, Mo., and Mike (Connie) Bruce, Nevada, Mo. He is also survived by many cousins, nieces and nephews and loved and cherished friends and neighbors.

To honor our father, grandfather and husband’s legacy, a Celebration of Life will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Sept. 9, at the Walker Christian Church in Walker, Mo. If you would like to donate in honor of Rex, we ask that you please donate to the American Cancer Society.

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