A farewell to greatness

Thank you so much to everyone who attended or viewed my father’s funeral yesterday. Many asked for a copy so here is the message I wrote from my sister and I to all of you. Have a happy Sunday!


A message from Liz and David to all of you:

First off, thank you so much for being here with us. At one point my father guesstimated that there would be around a dozen people at his funeral.

We are pretty sure that the “dozen” included the two of us, Scott and the five grandchildren. So we really only needed five more people…

Bruce truly loved his grandchildren. Lots of people say their grandkids are great but he was a true fan of Megan, Matthew, Gracen, Katherine and Jack.

And, to be honest, we also know he enjoyed telling everyone how each of his grandchildren thought he was the greatest guy ever. Which is true. They adored him.

Heck, we all loved and adored him.

As our late mother once said “What’s not to love?”

Our father said that when he met our mother “That was it”

And he loved, cherished and honored her until her last breath, showing both of us how a marriage should run until death do you part.

We thought we were a “normal” family growing up.

But, unfortunately, the love in our house…
The patience…
The forgiveness…
The kindness…
The encouragement…

It really wasn’t normal at all. It was extraordinary and we were truly blessed to be the children of our mother and father.


Someone mentioned to us that they imagine our dad was a pretty easy-going father.

Well, yes and no.

He had a few rules and they mostly centered around never opening the refrigerator nor turning on the TV without asking permission.

Our parents rarely watched TV but every week the family gathered around the coffee table to eat dinner while we watched Wall Street Week in Review on Fridays and then Murder She Wrote on Sundays. And, yes, this was mandatory for us to attend.

It was never “Let’s watch Grease” because my dad didn’t like how John Travolta and company were trashy losers.

It was never “Dukes of Hazzard” because, again, the Duke family and all of Hazzard County were a bunch of trashy losers.

Nor did we watch “Married with Children” because… You guessed it. Trashy losers.

But we saw billions and billions of Cosmos episodes with Carl Sagan and it’s a shame the theme song to Victory at Sea was never transposed for the organ or else we would have it played as the recessional song.

We did take a lot of family vacations. Driving, mostly. They were always educational in nature and featured a brewery tour or a Civil War Battlefield. And we traveled with a cooler dividing us children in the back seat and we would squeal and shriek when my dad would start steering with his knees or randomly open his car door at 60 mph for whatever reason.

Learning was a constant as a Ruisard.

He taught his daughter how to drive both an American and British stick shift. He also taught her how to boil water. No joke. He stood in the kitchen and instructed her on how to boil water when she was in college.

He taught his son how to squeeze every drop out of a toothpaste tube. He taught him how to change his own oil. Then he taught him that it’s cheaper to have it done at Jiffy Lube. Okay… Mostly, he taught his son how NOT to spend money. His son was a good learner too.


There is a passage in the Bible on learning…

John 6:60

On hearing it, many of His disciples said, “This is a difficult teaching. Who can accept it?”

At this point in the Book of John, Jesus’ disciples have thinned themselves down to only the 12 we know today. It’s not hard to imagine why. The world was promised a king of kings to save them.

They were expecting, well, a warrior.

But instead…

In a time when people sacrificed animals to God for their sins or worshipped a collection of deities whose lives were as crooked and sinful as their own, here came Jesus.

A man of humble origins telling them that most important thing they could do was simply “Love thy neighbor”

It must have been just as confusing as your father thinking you didn’t know how to boil water or how to squeeze a tube of tooth paste…

And again, life reminds us that the teaching can be difficult but, with God, we can learn.

David was drinking beer with his lifelong friend Smitty.

Liz was getting ready to go to bed with her husband Scott.

And some time before that, late one Saturday afternoon, Bruce died at his kitchen table.

What is there to learn from that?

Death can come at any time?


We don’t really learn anything from a death. It is simply something that happens to all of us.

What we really learn from is life and sharing our lives with others.

All of us learned a lot of things from Bruce Ruisard. Astronomy, physics, cooking, the civil war, ancient history, the list goes on and on.

Many of you here have told us how much his friendship meant to you.

He would make you laugh
He would work with you and for you
He would remember your birthday
He broke bread and poured wine with you
He was proud to share his life with you
He wanted to be involved
He wanted to give himself

Why was he like this?

Well, you may not know this but…

As a sophomore in high school, he sat in a car with father’s friends. He looked out the window and saw all of the people in his small town going about their day in the most normal of ways. But here he was, in a sedan with a collection of adults going to pick out a casket for his father.

He wondered…

How many times had he been going about his completely normal day while someone else passed by him who was quietly having the worst day of their life?

Dad said he never forgot that feeling. And it colored how interacted with all of us.


Yes, sometimes the teaching is hard, but we can learn.

We are here on this earth for each other.
To look after one another.
Strangers are to be blended with friends and friends are to be blended with family.

And the lesson to remember is that it matters how we treat other people.

We never know when we are passing by someone who is having the worst day of their life.

This is what our father and mother taught us.

So we will try — and we hope you will try as well — to do one simple thing that Bruce and Mary did so very well…

Love your neighbor

H+D The Threshold

“You know people will hate us for this?” our hero said. “They will be sick to their stomachs with envy because of how we are and will always be.”

Her poet thought for moment and with a subtle laugh he agreed while she floated back and forth across her kitchen.

“Misery, always, hates joy,” he said.

She smiled her crooked smile.

“Let them hate,” she said. “This, here, it is sacred.”

Just moments before he had stood on the threshold of her doorway. His hand debated between ringing her bell and knocking on her door. Two dogs were jumping inside and he was poised to ring her door bell but she opened it before he could conclude the act.

It was funny, truly, how her cool demeanor was utterly betrayed by the excitement flashing behind her eyes. These jumping and barking dogs were displaying just a small fraction of the eagerness rolling inside of her.

Oh those eyes!

They flashed with green fire and held shades of a soft, earthly, knowing hue. The colors dazzled and danced, beckoning him closer. Our poet knew many things but it was not until that moment that he knew the raw and soothing look of love.

This, here and now, was something bigger and more powerful than him and her.

His life.

Her life.

The entire universe had conspired to create this moment. Ages of actions — big and small, beautiful and ugly — had woven and layered upon each other, guided by that great invisible hand, to mold and shape two separate people with twin souls. There was no denying that they were bound for each other.

And trying to stem this love flowing out of and into each other, the dreams of an entire world would smolder into ashes until the dust was blown by the wind and nothing remained.

“One is loved,” is the line from The Alchemist. “No reason is needed for loving.”

Nothing was ever more true.