Walter Bruce Mecklenburg (1925 - 2010)

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Walter Bruce Mecklenburg passed away on Friday, Feb. 19, 2010, in Bozeman, the town closest to his heart.

An adventurer by nature, Bruce traveled throughout the West and lived in several cities, but he returned to Bozeman time and time again. He resided at Highgate Senior Living for the last two and a half years of his life.

Bruce was born to Walter and Dora Mecklenburg on July 14, 1925, in their Bozeman home at 619 W. Olive St. The second of four children, he loved exploring the streets of Bozeman and would often play with the neighborhood kids until he was called home to dinner by his mother's referee whistle. He occasionally helped out at the chicken hatchery his father owned and operated on the corner of Willson Avenue and Babcock Street.

A few months shy of his 18th birthday, Bruce enlisted in the Navy. He left school before graduation and served for three years in World War II as a radio operator.

When he returned in 1946, he enrolled at Montana State University to study agriculture. Around this time, he went into business with his father trading sheep and cattle.

While at MSU, Bruce's sister, Shirley, introduced him to one of her AO Pi sorority sisters, Helen Cameron, a chemistry major from Great Falls. They were married in 1950 and had four children, Gregory, Walter Daniel, Richard, and Laurie. The young couple first resided in an apartment Bruce built in the basement of his parents' home at 520 S. Willson Ave. A few years later, he built a home of his own on South Willson Avenue.

He married his second wife, Gladys (McMullin) Ardesson, in 1964 and the couple divided their time between Bozeman and Sun City, Ariz. In 1973, Bruce founded Mecklenburg Realty. His familiarity with the ranching community as a cattle trader made being a farm and ranch dealer his specialty. He sold numerous notable properties, including the Flying D Ranch. He was instrumental in the development of several projects in and around Bozeman, including the University Mall.

Gladys passed away on Dec. 26, 1995.

Bruce loved the outdoors and enjoyed fly fishing, deep-sea fishing, rafting, skiing and golfing. One of the highlights of his golfing pastime was a hole-in-one he shot at Riverside Country Club.

Another of his favorite hobbies was lathing bowls out of various hardwoods. Last fall, he held a sale of his bowls at Highgate, where the response tickled him greatly.

On Nov. 15, 1996, he married his high school sweetheart, Geraldine (Shotwell) Gearhert. He resided with Gerry in Spokane, Wash., until her death on June 20, 2007.

Bruce was raised as a member of the Methodist Church.

Preceding Bruce in death were his parents, Walter and Dora; his brother, Howard; his second wife, Gladys; and his third wife, Gerry.

Bruce is survived by his brother, Willard of Pittsburgh; his sister, Shirley Spain (husband Clark), of Kalispell; sons, Greg, Dan (wife Barbara) and Rich Mecklenburg of Bozeman; and daughter, Laurie Cameron Brands (husband Bill) of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Bruce will be remembered for his sense of adventure, his love of wide open spaces, his sense of humor and his inner fortitude.

A memorial service will be held for Bruce this spring.

Memorials may be made to Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter.

Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Feb. 28, 2010
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