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Life Story / Obituary
Through the life he lived each day, Bruce Williams made the most of the days he was given. He worked hard and believed in being a man of his word with a love for his family that was easy to see. Bruce loved being a husband and father and was an inspiring role model for his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He loved being part of the Bloomingdale community he called home throughout his entire life and he was the sort of person everyone seemed to know and enjoy being around. Life will never be the same without Bruce here, but he leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that will remain forever near and dear to the hearts of all who were blessed to know and love him.
As the 1940s dawned in America, we were facing times of great testing. We were still trying to relieve the unrelenting grip of the Great Depression while also keeping a close eye on the increasing hostilities overseas as WWII continued to gain momentum. Despite all the happenings of the day, James and Blanche (Ochampaugh) Williams were able to focus their attention on some exciting days in their family as they welcomed the baby boy they named Bruce Clark into their hearts and home on March 25, 1940, in Bloomindale, Michigan. Born in the home their family built, he was the only child in his family. Bruce’s father was a farmer and worked at the papermill while his mother was a housewife.
In many ways Bruce was a typical young boy of his generation. He attended local schools, and in addition to holding down his studies he helped out on the farm. His favorite thing to do, however, was to run around town with his friends. Bruce cared deeply for his family from the time he was young as the first thing he did when he got home from school everyday was to put his lunchbox on the table and then check on his parents, a gesture he continued even into adulthood.
After graduating from Bloomingdale High School Bruce was eager for all that life had in store. He began working at Parchment Paper Mill right out of high school because his father worked there and got him in the door. Much later in life Bruce retired from James River Corporation after they acquired the factory.
Not to be forgotten during his younger years was Bruce’s introduction to the woman who’d become his wife. Her name was Sylvia, and they were introduced through mutual friends. They were part of a “rat pack” who all hung out together as young adults. They began dating and before long, they were married on October 22, 1960 in Bangor. Ironically, that was also opening day of squirrel season. For the rest of his life it was easy to see that Bruce adored his wife. Together they were blessed with the births of three children, Deborah, Gary, and Richard. Bruce was an active part of his children’s lives. Some of their favorite memories were made on a family vacation to Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, taking in the scenic vistas, while their children were still quite young. Since Bruce loved being in nature, most of their vacations revolved around that. He taught his kids to ride horses and to love the outdoors, too. Bruce also instilled so many important lessons, such as the importance of integrity and being a person of your word. Bruce was a sensitive father who never played favorites between the kids or grandkids, and it has been said that he would try to keep things fair to a fault. He was a constant presence in the lives of his grandchildren as well. Bruce even taught his grandson that sometimes it’s important to make the time to just pull over and pick some flowers for the one you love. Bruce was all about making sure others knew of the significance of appreciating what and who is truly important in life.
Throughout his life Bruce was one to keep busy. As an outdoor lover, he spent a lot of time both hunting and fishing. He got his love of fishing from his father, with whom he was very close. Over the years Bruce became the owner of several rifles and handguns, and he was known to flip through Gander Mountain or other fishing and hunting catalogs, or what he called his “wish books.” Bruce regularly brought squirrels and rabbits home for dinner, and when hunting with his kids during their younger years he always warned them in a very low whisper, “Do not talk.” He was even known to bring home and care for young or wounded game, nurse them back to health and release them. Bruce was one who rarely threw a fish back, and he enjoyed eating the panfish he caught. Among his favorite fishing spots were the Allegan Dam, various local streams and lakes, or just about any place he could fish in his flat bottom boat, often on evenings and weekends. At times he took his grandchildren fishing with him. As his family and friends can attest Bruce had a name for everything. For example, he called golfing “cow pasture pool”, but he never did play.
All who knew Bruce Williams would agree that he was a man of honor and integrity. He was someone who lived in the moment and didn’t dwell in the past with a kind and genuine heart. Bruce never knew a stranger, and even went so far as to invite a complete stranger in for dinner when the stranger got a flat tire near their home. Giving and compassionate, he gave others so much to aspire for. Deeply loved, Bruce will be forever missed.
Bruce Williams, formerly of Bloomingdale, age 79, died on September 21, 2019. Bruce's family includes his wife, Sylvia; 2 children, Deborah (John) Hacht and Richard (Margaret) Williams; grandchildren: John, Ashley, Kevin, and Zach; and many great-grandchildren who loved and cared for him. Bruce was preceded in death by his parents and his son, Gary Williams. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Thursday (Sept 26) at Betzler Life Story Funeral Home, 6080 Stadium Dr., Kalamazoo, 269-375-2900 with visitation beginning one hour prior. Cremation will take place following the service with burial at a later date. Visit Bruce’s personal webpage at www.BetzlerLifeStory.com where you may archive a favorite memory or photo, and sign his online guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to American Cancer Society or Alzheimer’s Association.