R. Bruce Duchossois

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  • "Deepest sympathy at this difficult time. May you be..."
    - Carol Dwyer, fellow ADS member
  • "We were deeply saddened to hear of your loss. May you find..."
    - Partners For Progress Therapeutic Riding Center
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    - American Heart Association
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    - R M
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R. Bruce Duchossois
WELLINGTON, FL - R. Bruce Duchossois - an exceptional combination of accomplishment and humility, joie de vivre and kindness, beloved son, brother, uncle, partner and friend - died peacefully at home in Wellington, FL Wednesday, July 2, 2014 after a long and valiant fight with esophageal cancer.
Bruce was born February 1, 1950 in Evergreen Park, IL and was the third of four siblings born to Beverly and Richard Duchossois of Flossmoor, IL. From the time he was a toddler, Bruce was a lover of animals, particularly drawn to rescuing all kinds of creatures, without discrimination. A favorite shelter of Bruce's whose relationship evolved out of the rescuing of animals after Hurricane Katrina affirmed, "If it's true that a man's character may be judged by the way he treats his fellow animals, then Bruce Duchossois was a man of immense and abundant character."
Bruce was an enthusiastic participant in all life had to offer, and as another colleague remembers, "He was a man who respected tradition, style and good manners - mixed with a flair for the most outrageous fun." He was not an activist nor a crusader, but a man who embraced life to the fullest with unstoppable energy and drive. Bruce had a generous heart - he left his small corners of the world better than how he found them.
Bruce will additionally be remembered as an accomplished and celebrated horseman, stalwart supporter and active member of the horse community in both Aiken, SC and Wellington, FL. Bruce's greatest solace came when he was up in the saddle. He first gained national attention when he piloted his famed hunter, Kim's Song to win the American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year in 1973. Over the next 40 years Bruce became one of the country's leading exhibitors in the highly competitive Adult Amateur Hunter division and took home numerous championships and circuit awards. In May 2014 Bruce was inducted into the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame - a show to which Bruce was particularly endeared because he considered his championship aboard Kim's Song (at the National) to be the highlight and launch of his riding career. Bruce also owned accomplished eventers including the 2008 Olympic Games Partner and Rolex Kentucky Three Day Event winner, Connaught.
Bruce recognized the significance of every level of participation within the horse community. He led by example, not only in his philanthropic support but also in the time he gave in leadership roles to the numerous organizations in which he served throughout his career. Of note, Bruce was an Executive Board Member of the Equestrian Aid Foundation who honored him in February 2013 with the Luminary Award; a Vice President and Trustee of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation where he was instrumental as an owner in multiple disciplines including Driving, Eventing and Show Jumping; and a Director of the National Horse Show Association.
Bruce is survived by his life partner of 32 years Jack Wetzel of Aiken, SC; his father Richard Duchossois (Judi) of Barrington, IL; siblings Craig J. Duchossois (Janet) of Chicago, IL ; Dayle Duchossois Fortino (Ed) of Chicago, IL and Kimberly Duchossois of Barrington, IL. Bruce is also survived by his 4 nieces and 4 nephews (and spouses); and a litter of 11 great nieces and nephews. His beloved mother Beverly Thrall Duchossois predeceased Bruce in 1980. It would be remiss not to mention Bruce's most loyal four-legged buddies who dearly miss him: Chummy, Oscar and his "night-nurse" Ethel.
Bruce's family is deeply indebted to Michael Bombar for his endless commitment, compassionate care, advocacy and friendship throughout Bruce's illness, as well as to Bruce's medical team at MD Anderson in Houston, Texas.
Bruce unfailingly believed in tomorrow; legal pad and pen in hand he made copious notes for future projects up to his final day.
Celebrations of Bruce's life will take place at The Ritz Carlton Chicago 160 E. Pearson St. on Saturday, July 26 from 10am - 1pm; in Aiken, SC on Sunday, November 9, 2014, location and time TBD; and in Wellington, FL in January 2015, location, date and time TBD.
Memorial contributions may be made in Bruce's name to the or to any of the following near to Bruce's heart: Caridad Center www.caridad.org; SPCA Albrecht Center for Animal Welfare www.letlovelive.org and Vinceremos Riding Center www.vinceremos.org.
Published in The Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star on July 13, 2014