Bruce Edward Baumann, 79, of Erie, passed away peacefully, on Saturday, March 21, 2020, at Bickford Senior Living Center, where he recently celebrated his 79th birthday with family and friends. He was born in Erie, on March 6, 1941, son of the late George E. and Louise M. (Spiesman) Baumann.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brothers, Thomas R. Baumann and James R. Baumann, a sister, Patricia L. (Baumann) Hopsecger, and his wife of ten years, Patricia (Danch) Baumann.
Bruce is survived by his children, Jennifer and Ron Cortina, of Chicago, Illinois, Charlie and Michelle Baumann, of Orlando, Florida, Gary and Neha Baumann, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Randall Baumann, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Amy Baumann, of Los Angeles, California, and Bryan and Gretchen Baumann, of Erie, Pennsylvania. "Pa" is also survived by his eight grandchildren, Sarah Cortina, Emma Cortina, Lauren Cortina, Mary Baumann, Anna Baumann, Lucas Baumann, William Baumann, and Jacob Baumann.
He is also survived by a brother, Joseph C. Baumann, of Erie, Pennsylvania, and dozens of nieces and nephews.
Bruce grew up around the Rugworks, located on East 5th Street. In 1958, Bruce enlisted in the United States Navy and, later, the United States Naval Reserve, where he proudly served his country for more than 25 years. He served for extended periods of time aboard the USS Neosho and the USS Alstede. During his years of service, Bruce earned the nickname "Ensign Pulver"—one of many earned throughout his lifetime—due to his penchant for mostly harmless mischief, as unofficial Morale Officer of the ship.
Bruce owned Baumann Bros. Carpetowne, where he worked his entire life. A proud fourth-generation carpet man, he cherished the relationships he built with thousands of customers, distributors and loyal employees, many of whom worked with Bruce for decades.
Bruce was most recently a devout parishioner at St. James, R.C. Church in Wesleyville. He relished in Fr. McCormick's 22-minute services. He was previously a member of Mt. Calvary Catholic Church, where he was a faithful parishioner for decades, and where he organized several 1950s-themed dances. He was a steadfast attendee at "Peanut Night" at May's Tavern and a member at several local clubs, too many to list, really.
Bruce always displayed a remarkable ability to organize events and parties for his friends and family. He volunteered for countless organizations. He was an original Board Member for Erie Youth Soccer Association, where he also served as Eastside Director. In 1977, he helped organize and sponsor an exhibition game at Veteran's Stadium featuring the United States Men's Olympic Soccer Team. For years, he organized and sponsored Punt, Pass & Kick competitions at Veterans Stadium. Beyond sports, he often used his home to host parties for charitable causes, like the Alzheimer's Association. He arranged "Choir Practice" at local establishments for several friends, where nary a note was sung. He loved to go "fishing" in Canada with his brother, Tom…but failed to catch any actual fish at the casinos. He also loved to organize "Rip-Baum Production" junkets to Las Vegas. Incredibly, the Hotel San Remo in Las Vegas named Bruce its Customer of the Year, not because he was a high-roller—far from it—but because of the fun atmosphere "Mr. Pennsylvania" helped create when he was there. More recently, he helped organize the Flag Brigade, through which he enlisted the help of his friends to help place thousands of American flags on bridges throughout the area. He also organized Navy lunches, where dozens of veterans gathered on a monthly basis.
Bruce shared his father George's love for fast pitch softball. Through Baumann Bros. Carpetowne, the "RugMen" remained a fixture in the City Rec League and elsewhere for over 50 years. He organized several tournaments over the years. The most notable was The George Baumann Memorial Fast Pitch Tournament, which brought the best players in the world to the ballfields at 11th and Hess. Bruce also founded the Erie Codgers, an over-50 softball league where players competed for the "Grey Cup," though priority was most often given to tailgate parties after the games. Each Codger season culminated with a banquet, over which Bruce presided until recently, making sure everyone in the league was "recognized" in some way.
In 2007, Bruce's contributions to sports in Erie were publicly recognized, when he was inducted into the Metro Erie Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, alongside his son, Charlie.
Despite devoting his time to so many causes, Bruce still somehow found time to become immersed in nearly everything his kids did. He loved his kids more than anything. Whether it was watching his kids perform live on stage, play football, basketball, soccer, or baseball, Bruce was there, in between measuring customers' homes, proudly cheering on his kids and their friends. Distance was never an issue. With games at Behrend College, Hammermill Field, Morgantown, West Virginia, Foxboro, Massachusetts, or any point in between, Bruce would be there. He'd manage to bring friends along, too, and somehow gain sideline access where he captured great shots of his kids and their teammates. If his kids weren't playing, you could find Bruce at any number of sporting events, especially Erie Seawolves games in recent years. He also loved attending Jazz Fest with his kids, spending hours on end in the Economy Hall Tent, where his family gathered to celebrate his 70th birthday.
Bruce thought the world of his grandkids, and loved sharing "Pa Sandwiches" with them, no matter the time of day. He treated his kids' friends like his own. Soon, they all came to regard him as their own friend, often calling him "Hoss" or "Pa," rarely Mr. Baumann. (That was his dad's name.) No small feat.
He never missed an opportunity to share his incredible sense of humor. Never. Stories abound. Nobody was as quick or funny. He always kept you on your toes, and did everything he could to make sure you were having fun. There was no place he loved more than his backyard, and he loved sharing it with his friends. He spent thousands of hours planting flowers, making sure his yard was "manicured," and ready for a party at a moment's notice. There was always time to enjoy a "Foamy" and watch the sunset. (continues)
Published in Erie Times-News from Mar. 26 to Mar. 29, 2020.