One of the "good guys" passed away Thursday, February 20, 2014. James Bruce had a wonderful life that lasted almost 94 years.
Jim was born June 23, 1920, at the old St. Alphonsus hospital in downtown Boise in 1920 and he spent his entire life in Boise, aside from the time he spent away at college and during World War II. Jim was part of the "old guard" of Boise and truly loved Idaho and all it represented. He was a true Idahoan who loved to spend his time in the great Idaho outdoors fishing, hunting and enjoying all it had to offer.
Jim led a life that was by all accounts full and rewarding. He attended St. Joseph's school and then moved on to St. Teresa's academy in Boise. This was his first experience attending a school that enrolled both boys and girls! In 1936, he went to Portland, Oregon, to attend Columbia Prep for one year, and after graduation, he enrolled at the University of Portland. After two years at the University of Portland, he spent two years at the College of Idaho, where he received his bachelor's degree. He then began law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
Following the first year of law school, World War II had started and he enrolled in the Army. He was sent to the South Pacific and New Guinea and for the remainder of his life never had a desire to go back to the South Pacific! At the conclusion of the war, he returned to the States and, not wanting to return to the humidity of the East Coast, he transferred to the University of Idaho Law School, receiving his J.D. degree in 1947.
During the period surrounding the war, he met Lois Stevens of Twin Falls. Lois served in the Navy during the war. They wrote each other many letters during the war and the rest is history. They were married August 25, 1946, in St. John's Cathedral in Boise. Upon Jim's graduation from law school, he and Lois moved back to Boise, where he would begin his career in law and raise a family.
He worked for a couple of years in the Prosecuting Attorney's office, and after a brief time spent in private practice, he accepted an offer to go to work for Idaho Power Company in 1951. He spent the next 34 years with Idaho Power. He transitioned from junior counsel to senior counsel and vice president. He became president of Idaho Power in 1974, CEO in 1976 and retired in 1985. Idaho Power prospered during his years in leadership, and he often attributed the success of the company to the dedicated employees of the company.
While Idaho Power was a company that he truly loved, it was by no means his only passion. For many years, Jim served on the boards of a number of companies and nonprofits. He was a board member of Albertsons, First Security Bank and Blue Cross of Idaho.
Additionally, he felt very deeply for the welfare of the Boise community and provided considerable time and talent to these causes. Included in these organizations are the YMCA, the Parks Department, the Boise Zoo Board, St. Alphonsus Board and Foundation, Bishop Kelly High School Board and Foundation, St. Joseph's grade school, St. John's Cathedral, the Idaho Catholic Diocese, and The College of Idaho Board. Additionally, he served on the board of the Ada County Highway District and was the Chairman of the Lottery Commission. He was also a proud member of the Arid Club in Boise for almost 50 years. Needless to say, he was rarely bored.
While dedicated to his Boise community, he was even more dedicated to his family. He attended countless sporting events that his four boys participated in for literally 40 years. He would often attend city league basketball games that involved his sons. He may qualify as the only spectator at a city league game to get thrown out of the gym because, in his words, the referee was a pinhead! He supported every endeavor his sons were involved in and then did the same with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren to the best of his ability.
His greatest dedication and love was to his wife, Lois. Towards the end of her life, Lois was afflicted with Alzheimer's disease and had to be moved to a care facility in 1997. She remained there until 2005, when she passed away. It was a rare day in that time period when Jim did not visit her twice a day. He was a very dedicated father and husband.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents, James and Bessie; a sister, Cordilla; an infant son; his grandson, Jimmy; and of course the love of his life, Lois.
Jim leaves behind his four sons, Jim (Micki) Bruce and their children, Heather (Cazzie) Brown and Dave Bruce; Steve (Beri) Bruce and their children, Daniel (Kristen) Bruce and Bethany (James) Bewley; Bob (Gloria) Bruce and their children, Sara Bruce and Joe Bruce; and Dave (Terri) Bruce and their children, Nicole (Ethan) Freckleton and Andrew Bruce. Jim also leaves behind 10 great-grandchildren, with another one due any day.
He also leaves behind a lasting legacy of which his family can be very proud. He was truly a "one of a kind" individual who helped to make Boise a better place, and he will be missed greatly but certainly not forgotten by all of those who knew and loved him.
The family wants to give a special thanks to Wendy from Align Hospice, who was wonderful in his final days. To Lee, who came in as a helper for Jim over the past couple of years and quickly became his friend. She took wonderful care of him and quickly learned how to banter with him. To the staff at Ivy Place, who not only took care of Mom for seven years but also took wonderful care of Dad in his last months. They are truly saints! Finally, to Terese Sackos of Ivy Place, who was such a great friend and caregiver to Jim for so many years. It meant so much to not only him but also to the family.
A scholarship fund is established at Bishop Kelly High School in the names of James and Lois Bruce through the Bishop Kelly Foundation, 7009 Franklin Road, Boise, ID 83709.
There will be a viewing for Jim from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. today, February 26, at Summers Funeral Homes, 1205 W. Bannock St. in Boise. A Mass of Christian Burial will be at 10 a.m. Thursday, February 27, at St. John's Cathedral, 807 N. Eighth St. in Boise. Burial will follow at Dry Creek Cemetery. A reception will be held at 2 p.m. at the Arid Club.
Memories and condolences may be shared with the family on Jim's memorial Web page at www.summmersfuneral.com.