LaVerne Bruce (1924 - 2015)

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  • "I will remember her as my smiling, compassionate and witty..."
    - Bret Schmiege
  • "I am very sorry about the loss of this dear woman. God..."
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    - Daryl Utt
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    - Michael Ford
  • "Dan, I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of your mother. I..."
    - Eric Peter
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LaVerne Bruce passed away peacefully at the Royal Oaks Lifetime Care Community in Sun City, Arizona on July 26, 2015. At her side were grandchildren, Christina, Elijah, and Linda, sons Geron and Dan, and Geron's wife Roberta. While her health had necessitated her leaving Juneau during the final years of her life, she adamantly considered Juneau her home and frequently asked when she could come back to stay. Her ashes will be interred in Evergreen Cemetery, alongside those of her husband of 59 years.

LaVerne was one week shy of 91 when she died and when people hear of her age the typical response is she had a good life. But that is an incomplete description, as she not only had a good life, but a life that was well lived. She was born on August 2, 1924 in Miami, Texas, a small town in the panhandle of Texas. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Thelma Corse Berry and Ewell Berry. She married her high school sweetheart, Herbert E. Bruce on March 7, 1942. They were married until Herbert's death on December 11, 2001. Life was hard in the dustbowl of Texas and LaVerne firmly believed that education was the best escape from that life. She began college while Herbert was serving in the Pacific and obtained her bachelor's degree by the end of the war. Thanks to the "GI Bill," Herbert also obtained a college degree and both began careers in education, which led to their move to Alaska, just as the new state had its beginning. LaVerne and Herbert's belief in education funded not only their children's college educations but also the college educations of their three grandchildren.

After arriving in Juneau on a dark and rainy September night in 1959, LaVerne quickly realized that Juneau was a lot more of a frontier town than she had expected. For example, the network TV news was a two-week old tape recording and much of the town still looked like it did when the Alaska Juneau mine was operating. She especially missed her mother Thelma, who never managed to make the long journey to Juneau. Notwithstanding the strangeness and hardships of her new town, she set out immediately, relying on the spunk and spirit that were so much a part of her, to make a good life for herself and her family in her new home. In a short time, she would want to live no where else. She made many wonderful friends for a lifetime, particularly Jean Overstreet; with whom she shared a relationship that was as close as a sister. LaVerne taught school at Harborview Elementary until she retired. Herbert liked to tease her that it took her 25 years to get out of the second grade, but she took that in stride as she loved teaching children, and since she knew her husband loved to tease her, she generously granted him that pleasure. LaVerne and her family avidly partook of the outdoor adventures that Juneau so amply offered. They skied at Second Cabin, on Dan Moeller trail, ice skated at Skater's Cabin, hiked, and joyously reveled in the overwhelming beauty of this place. LaVerne and her husband enjoyed especially the opportunities for boating and fishing that Juneau provides. They owned several boats and plied the waters around Juneau on those boats with their sons and friends. For many years, they jointly owned and operated, with Bill and Jean Overstreet, the Coralie. Many, many weekends they could be found anchored in some lovely spot playing cards while a fishing line dangled off the stern.

After retirement, her great passions were traveling, baseball, bridge, and her family and friends. As long as her health allowed, she was active in the Juneau Retired Teachers' Association, the Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO), and as a volunteer election worker. She traveled to and around the US-visiting major league ball parks if possible-Asia, Europe, Mexico and Central America. Friends and family often said that LaVerne never met a stranger.

LaVerne is survived by her sons Geron and Dan, their wives Roberta and Glory, her grandchildren Christina, Linda, and Elijah, her sister, Betty Craig of Austin, Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews. Also surviving her is her former daughter-in-law, Teresa Krilitech-Bruce.

LaVerne was preceded in death by her husband, Herbert E. Bruce, her sister Vernal Rose, and Brenda Bruce, her daughter in law, wife of Geron and mother of Elijah Bruce.

LaVerne had a good life and lived it well. A celebration of that life will be held at the Hangar Ballroom-2 Marine Way -on Sunday, August 30, from 2:30 PM to 5 PM. The family requests that no flowers be sent and that any donations individuals may wish to make on LaVerne's behalf, be made to the charitable health care organization of their choice.
Published in The Juneau Empire from Aug. 23 to Sept. 22, 2015
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