Bobby Theo Bruce, known as Bob Bruce (May 19, 1934—March 13, 2009), was a prominent Texas journalist affiliated with the Abilene Reporter-News in Abilene from 1959 until his retirement in 1998. He began as a general assignments reporter and ended his tenure there as travel editor for the last quarter century. In between, Bruce reported on crime, the courts, the military, business, regional issues, and politics, having once joked that he had "covered everything but society news."
Early years and education
Bruce was born on his grandmother's farm near Point in rural Rains County near Tyler in East Texas. Obituary] His father Theo Bruce died in 1940 and his mother Mary Elizabeth Bruce died in 1945 when Bob was eleven. He was then reared by an uncle, Ira Mumm (1912–1979), and aunt, the late Irene Mumm. He attended public schools in Point, Wichita Falls, and Garland, Texas, Hobbs, New Mexico, and El Dorado, Kansas. He graduated in 1957 from the University of Kansas at Lawrence with a bachelor of Science degree in journalism.
After college, Bruce served for two years in the United States Army before he joined the Reporter-News staff. For 12 years as military editor, Bruce covered Dyess Air Force Base during the missile age, with emphasis on the Air Force's SM-65 Atlas and the Army's MIM-14 Nike-Hercules anti-aircraft missiles. During his first two years at the Reporter-News, Bruce was a member of the Abilene Army Reserve unit.
Though he had been reared Presbyterian, Bruce switched to the Baptist denomination after he married on February 6, 1960, the former Helen Sarieta Williams (born March 1, 1933), then an employee of the newspaper bookkeeping department."Faith was a great comfort to him. He took a great deal of comfort in knowing there was more to life than just what we're doing today," said Robert Gregory “Greg” Bruce (born May 2, 1967) of Lubbock, Texas, the Bruces' only child. Bruce also worked with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America in Abilene and was in time recognized as a "volunteer of the year."
With the failure of his health, Bruce died in the University Medical Center in Lubbock. Services were held at the First Baptist Church of Abilene, where Bruce was a deacon and active in the Men’s Prayer Breakfast. Dr. Phil Christopher officiated. Interment was at Elmwood Memorial Park in Abilene.
Bruce’s newspaper legacy
Known for his ferocious keystrokes in writing his stories, Bruce was depicted upon his death at the age of seventy-four as "a man with a gentlemanly manner and a giving heart, deeply devoted to family, who saw a good portion of the world and enjoyed giving readers what they needed to know each and every day." Greg Bruce added that his father had a "lifelong career goal to wake up every morning to be a newspaperman."
Governor Rick Perry said that West Texas lost "a clear, insightful voice with the passing of Bob Bruce. For as long as it's worth remembering, Bob covered Abilene and beyond, getting people the facts with nary a wasted word..." Former Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock, who sometimes quarreled with media personalities, sent Bruce a letter of commendation at the time of Bruce's retirement, less than a year before Bullock's own death of cancer. Bruce also interviewed such political figures as President George W. Bush and 1996 presidential candidate and former U.S. Senator Bob Dole of Kansas.
Former Reporter-News columnist Bill T. Whitaker, in 2009 the senior editor at the Waco Tribune-Herald, recalled Bruce as a versatile journalist and "a superb raconteur ... He was kind of the grand old man for so many of us because he had been there so long and ... had that institutional memory that we would tap into all of the time."
Greg Bruce added that his father was from "that golden age of newspapermen. He believed it was a very honorable and high profession.