Bruce Christopher

Monday, December 4, 2023 8:59 am

Bruce Albert Christopher, husband of Mary Ellen Christopher (Linderbaum), died in Ossian on Nov. 5, 2023, surrounded by his loving family.

On Saturday, Dec. 9, 2023, at 10 a.m., Bruce will receive military honors at Veterans Park in Decorah. Memories of Bruce’s life will be shared at the celebration of life held at 10:30 at Helms Funeral Home in Decorah, located next to the park. Family, friendship, fellowship and food will follow the celebration of life at 11:30 a.m.

Casual attire is encouraged. Loving sports as much as he did, we think Bruce would even love it if you would like to sport your favorite team to the celebration or fellowship. Please feel free to do so.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Bruce’s honor to the Decorah VFW Post 1977.

Born on July 2, 1946, in Fall River, Massachusetts to the late Charles and Norma Christopher, Bruce was the fourth of five children. He attended Joseph Case High School in Swansea, Mass., where he played football and baseball.

Shortly after graduating high school, Bruce moved out to the state of Iowa due to his father’s job relocation. After spending a year at the University of Iowa, Bruce was drafted into the Army and spent his service in Ansbach, Germany building radio towers in the late 60’s. Bruce was a proud veteran and received his Quilt of Valor in 2021.

Upon returning to the United States after his military service, Bruce came back to Iowa and soon after met the love of his life, Mary Ellen, through a blind date set up by his sister Dale Bradshaw, her husband Jim, and Mary Ellen’s brother Jerry Linderbaum and sister-in-law Linda who all taught together at Solon schools.

Bruce and Mary Ellen were married on June 24, 1972, and settled in Decorah, where they would raise their three children: Jill, Charles and Jenni.

He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Upper Iowa University in Fayette, IA. He held various jobs throughout his career, but the most memorable being an office supply salesman, driving around the white Cobie’s van, and later, a driver’s education instructor for various schools across Northeast Iowa.

Bruce worked to live; he didn’t live to work. He was a family man, making endless sacrifices for Mary Ellen and his children. He was always present and gave his all to make sure his kids had the best of everything, most times even sacrificing his own comfort and health along the way.

He never missed a single game, concert, celebration or any event for any of his kids. The red Dodge minivan became a staple of his kid’s sporting events and everyone knew when the Christopher’s had arrived, oftentimes about an hour or more late. Bruce trekked hundreds of thousands of miles in that red minivan and, due to Mary Ellen’s fear of flying, even made multiple trips out East to visit his family in Massachusetts, South Carolina and beyond.

He loved the Boston Red Sox and the Green Bay Packers. Bruce would tell stories of how he used to watch Ted Williams play at Fenway Park. He would then usually gripe about all of the rookie baseball cards he used to have, including a Mickey Mantle card, that his mother gave away to a little cousin when he went away to college.

Despite not being a devoutly religious man, he embodied all the traits of one. He loved unconditionally and always went above and beyond to help those in need. Bruce loved his country and his fellow man/woman. He was a proud American and would never be caught NOT wearing the American flag somewhere on himself. However, he would never let politics interfere with being a kind person to anyone he encountered and always had respect for others. He had a smile that was contagious and a kindness about him that people were drawn to. He loved visiting with anyone and oftentimes would know the most detailed facts about people by the end of the conversation, which of course he would remember until their next one.

He was a proud grandpa. “Poppa Bruce” adored his grandchildren, and we know he wanted nothing more than to stay around longer to watch them all grow. He was also a proud uncle and great-uncle. He loved all of his nieces and nephews and their kids. He also loved all of his children’s close, lifelong friends that they made along the way.

Bruce lived in the moment and never rushed things, and we really mean that, in true Christopher fashion, he NEVER RUSHED anything. He was ever observant of the world around him, often getting teased and called “Old Eagle-Eyed Bruzer” for spotting things off the side of the road in the distance before others, when he was the one supposed to be driving (like the time he was in the process of “popping the clutch” of a dead car rental while driving down a steep hill in Costa Rica. Midway down, he says “Oh look, an iguana”).

The family memories with Bruce could truly fill up a book. He always made people laugh without really even trying. Ever the good sport, many of these stories were at his expense and revolved around his funny and very particular ways of doing things.

Captured here are a few of our favorites:

○      All of the family vacations out to Massachusetts to see Ma and DeeDee, Bruce’s siblings and their families (Clam boils, Martha’s Vineyard, playing volleyball at Jimmy and Dale’s, Black Dog shirts, going out to pull lobster pots with Uncle Jim, visiting Boston with Uncle Billy, dressing up as Uncle Sam and so many more.)

○      Family Christmas videos of picking out the PERFECT tree for hours, dog treat pig ears, Rolo’s, stockings so filled with candy and fruit that they looked like real feet, Donald Duck quacks and all of our beloved pets Christy, Suzi, Curt the cat and Sammy.

○      Visiting Washington D.C., Cooperstown, Cheers in Boston (Whoopie), South Dakota, Wisconsin Dells (and the orange swim trunks), Green Bay and Lambeau field (and the “it’s cold out here” guy), Costa Rica (and traveling to Montezuma and Tortuga Island with the wild pig nibbling Bruce’s leg, then later experiencing Montezuma’s revenge).

○      Visiting any warmer climate and Dad lathering up with sunscreen until he was white all over, only to sit in the shade of a tree the whole time.

○      Buying Hallmark singing snowmen every year for Mary Ellen, his kids, his in-laws, friends and literally anyone he felt would enjoy one.

○      Spending hours upon hours cooking the Thanksgiving turkey where “he fell in love with the damn thing” according to his wife.

○      All of the stories he used to tell of growing up out East, including the opportunity to shake Dr. MLK Jr.’s hand when he gave the commencement address at his brother Billy’s college graduation from Springfield College.

○      Endless hours of practicing sports with his kids and even spending every Sunday driving four hours to haul his daughter to a pitching clinic in Cedar Rapids.

○      Always helping with his kid’s school projects to make them standout, like the science fairs and bug collections. A simple project was never enough.

○      Building a snowman so large it could probably have been seen from outer space.

○      Driving an extra 30 miles to save 2 cents on gas, including a time he drove twenty miles out of the way to get cheaper gas only to pull up to a ferry boat dock he would need to board to get to it.

○      Traveling to southern Spain along with Mary Ellen, his brother, sister, sister-in-laws and nephew for his youngest daughter’s wedding where he met his future son-in-law’s family. Visiting many cities in Andalucía and even visiting Gibraltar and the monkeys.

○      Cooking meals and BBQing for his kids and his kids’ friends when they would come over. Many of his kids’ friends considered Bruce their second dad.

○      Deeney noses, ice skating, sledding, fishing waders, voicemail recordings, charm bracelets, Old Style, “Bruzerman”, beer brats that were ready at 10pm, dressing up as Santa Claus, speeding tickets and his retelling of the cop that pulled him over, talking up the used Plymouth reliant he bought for his daughter describing it as “sporty”, the list could go on and on.

His loving wife used to say, “Bruce is a man who has everything… and he keeps it all in his garage”. Bruce’s kids began to coin a phrase that best describes how “extra” he was with buying and holding on to things: “Some is good, but more is better”. But we realize it means more than that. He lived more and loved more, and he did everything with all of his heart. Upon reflecting on memories to write here and from the many messages we received from friends and family, a single word kept recurring, unconditional. The dictionary definition of unconditionally is: without conditions or limits, but to us, it’s Dad.

He will be so dearly missed.

Bruce is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen; his children; Jill Kalvig and her husband Michael of Nashua, Charles Christopher; Jenni and her husband Jose Aguayo of Granville, Ohio; six grandchildren: Christopher, Elizabeth, Adrienne and Andrew Kalvig; Walter and Genevieve Aguayo; sister, Nancy Lincoln; sister, Dale Bradshaw and her husband Jim; sister, Doris Merrill and her husband Stephen; sister-in-law Chris Christopher; sister-in-law Debby Scheidel and her husband Mike; and sister-in-law Linda Linderbaum. He also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, cousins, great nieces and nephews and their families as well as his many friends that he considered family.

He was predeceased by his parents, Charles and Norma (Humphrey) Christopher; brother, Charles “Billy” Christopher; brother-in-law, Raymond Lincoln; father and mother-in-law Walter and Esther Linderbaum; brother-in-law Jerry Linderbaum; and sister-in-law, Janet Linderbaum.

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