Robert D. “Joe” Bruce died at his home at Anchorage Place in South Portland, Maine on Sunday, May 23, at the age of 95.
Joe Bruce was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts to William H. Bruce and Helen L. Bruce. Shortly after his birth, Joe and his family moved to Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He graduated from Cape Elizabeth High School and was an Eagle Scout. He entered the United States Navy in 1943 and was enrolled in the Navy V-12 program at Bates College. He was discharged from the Navy in 1946 as a LT (j.g.), and was accepted at Bowdoin College, and later at Harvard University, where he graduated Class of 1949 with a B.A. degree. He subsequently attended the University of Virginia Law School, graduating in 1952 with an L.L.B degree. He served on the Editorial Board of both the Virginia Law Review and the Virginia Law weekly. He married M. Jean (“Jeanie”) Bruce in 1951, and in 1952 moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. He joined the Boston law firm of Foley, Hoag, and Eliot for several years, then the New England Telephone Company, from which he retired in 1982 as Associate General Counsel. In 1954, he and Jeanie moved to Manchester-by-the-Sea, where they raised their four sons. In 1984 they moved to South Portland, Maine, where Joe lived until 2021.
When his four boys were grown, and soon after his retirement, he and Jeanie set sail for two- and one-half years exploring the Caribbean aboard their 38-foot sloop They lived winters for over 20 years after that in the Caribbean, in a home ashore at Tobacco Wharf in Tortola. In 2004, they began spending their winters in Briny Breezes, Florida. He loved to travel and spent time in various parts of the world. At age 88, Joe traveled by himself to China. At 90, he traveled to the Caribbean with his daughter-in-law Lorna, where he explored the islands, and even went skin diving off the reefs of Belize. At 91, he traveled with his closest companion, Marie Dechman, in a small passenger liner down the Amazon River, and at 92, to visit friends in England and Portugal.
Joe was known for his keen intellect, tremendous ability, boundless enthusiasm, and most of all, for his terrific sense of humor. His family meant everything to him, and his four boys were the focal point of his existence.
He is survived by his children, Robert D. (“Joe”) Bruce, Jr., W. Angus Bruce and his wife Fernanda Aguiar Bruce, Alexander S. Bruce, James D. Bruce and his wife Lorna Livingston Bruce; nine grandchildren; and five great grandchildren. He was predeceased by his wife, M. Jean Bruce, his brother, William L. Bruce, and his daughter-in-law, Amy M. Bruce.
A Celebration of Joe’s life will be held at Anchorage Place, South Portland, Maine at 2 pm on Saturday, July 31. All are welcome to attend. There will be no viewing, and cremation will follow with a burial at sea as he had wished.
The family would especially like to thank Marie Dechman, who Joe deeply loved, for the care, companionship, and love she provided Joe during many of his last years.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, 1-800-822-6344, Reference Memorial I.D.# 22457236.