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

Ain’t no giving tree

So someone smarter than me suggested I take the Meyers Briggs Personality Test and apply it to my dating life…

First off, the glaring flaw with using the Meyers Briggs test for dating is that there is no mention of the the most personalities you encounter while dating:





But anyway…

My results came back as “ENFJ” which sounded cool when I first read the description until I got to the last line:

“….you want to give and give until there is nothing left, a la The Giving Tree.”


This is NOT who I want to be.

The Giving Tree is this amazing Elm or something that is basically a power house in its little patch of prairie. Then this selfish asshole comes along, tricks the tree into loving them and slowly, methodically, reduces a once glorious tree down to an ugly stump.

Not cool. Not cool at all.

So I consulted an even smarter friend with an amazing hamburger t-shirt and she said:

“My friend Lori brought me breakfast.”

(Texts a picture of herself eating potato skins in bed while on vacation)

“Don’t change the subject by distracting me with potato skins…”

“Okay, yah, but the giving tree was happy when she died. She spread so much love!”


“No way! I am not going out like that. If some self-centered person comes along I’m just going to drop a branch on them before they kill me and rest of the forest. My God! That’s why they have the tree all alone in a field. That kid has already wiped out the rest of the woods!”

(Long exchange about personality types)

“Hey Dave… Actually Shel Silverstein hated children. That’s why he wrote The Giving Tree. He is warning us that kids will suck the life out of you.”

And on cue, my two children tumbled down the stairs…

Girl: “I’m hungry.”

Boy: “We want donuts.”

Girl: “We want kolaches. No, breakfast tacos.”

Boy: “We want all three.”

Girl: “I also need some new clothes.”

Boy: “I’m bored.”

I am going to need a few more skull crushing branches.