Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Good-bye to Bruce

Yesterday, at Ft. Sam Houston [San Antonio, TX], there was a full military funeral service for Bruce H. Limpus. All four of us were there, because Bruce touched each of us over the course of his life. Bruce had one career in the USAF, followed by another as a high-school English teacher in San Antonio’s poorest school district. During all this time, Bruce was also an artist – a painter, sculptor, poet, playwright, director, actor.

In his life, Bruce inspired hundreds of young artists, writers, actors, and directors. He also influenced the lives of literally thousands of young students, many of whom left San Antonio’s Edgewood and Memorial High Schools to go on to an Ivy League education. As for the four of us, well … .

Steve and Kathy’s daughters both are involved in careers in the arts, and Bruce found the time to nurture their ambitions and talents. Kathy, Mary Lou, and I had the great honor of performing in his “murder mystery/comedies” in roles written specifically for us. The fact that Mary Lou sings in a band is directly down to Bruce, who cast her in several singing roles in his British-style holiday pantomimes.

As for me, Bruce was my very first stage director [in 1967] and directed me in my last role nearly 40 years later. Almost as soon as we met, Bruce and his wife Sheila began to teach me about art, music, theater, philosophy, and psychology. In the span of a 42-year close friendship, Bruce and Sheila stood up for me at both my weddings, welcomed Mary Lou into their family, and spent hours with us going to theater, having dinners, and talking, talking, talking. Some time in 1976, Bruce handed me a piece of paper with 23 words written on it. I took those words and, with Steve’s help, finished a song that is on our CD and is very popular at our gigs.

Bruce and Sheila used to love to come to our performances and, when his health began to fail him, welcomed us into his home for an “unplugged” concert. He loved us all and we loved him right back.

While most of the service consisted of an impressive display by a USAF ceremonial team – complete with a rifle salute and taps – the culmination of the service was Kathy singing to Steve’s accompaniment. The family requested this of Kathy, one of Bruce’s most favorite chanteuses and dancing girls, and she was happy to comply. Bruce’s favorite film was Casablanca, so Kathy sang a very touching rendition of “As Time Goes By,” to Steve’s guitar.

And that was that, after 81 years on this earth, Bruce was gone. It’s a terribly trite cliché, but in this case, there’s no denying that he lives on in the hearts and souls of all of us in the band, and many, many others. Good-bye, our friend.


Anonymous said...

A sweet and loving tribute.

Chris said...

Your "As Time Goes By" will be with me from here on.

WDYC said...

I only worked with him a little, but he has always stayed with me.