Eulogy in honor of Bruce Kuenzi

By September 25, 2018 Blog
On August 24th of this year at the age of 56 and following a long courageous fight with pancreatic cancer, we lost an incredible family member by the name of Bruce Kuenzi. This one hit all of us very hard and has been in the forefront of my mind for some time.

Here is the eulogy given by Thomas Rucker in honor of Bruce.

My name is Thomas Rucker and I have had the pleasure to work with Bruce Kuenzi at Tideworks Technology for over a decade, like many others that are here today.

The family asked that I say a few words today on behalf of Bruce.

I was quite honored when Sandy asked but then quickly realized how important these Eulogies can be.  You need high quality presentation and a border line professional presenter….so maybe I should start with an apology.

Perhaps one of the most difficult tasks the United States uses for recruiting special forces candidates has nothing to do with marksmanship or hand to hand combat.   It’s just a simple march.  Young men are told to put on all their gear and report to the starting point in the morning.  Sleep deprived, hungry, and filled with anxious nervous energy they all report to the line.

They do not know how long the march will be or what the terrain will be like or what obstacles may lie ahead.  Some of them launch forward and sprint, others pace themselves and conserve energy…betting on a longer march.  Others freeze and succumb to the pressure and do strange things, getting themselves rolled out the program even before the race begins.  Everyone handles it in their own way. The physical part of the test is far less demanding than the mental strain.  It is the pressure of not knowing the distance or conditions to the finish line that pushes many past their breaking point.  The fear of the unknown.

This is like what it is like for many families when a loved one is diagnosed with a terminal illness.  They are told they are gearing up for a fight and little else.  They do not know how long it will last, how painful it will be, how stressful, just how difficult it will be.  Ambiguous tasks like these are often the best way to reveal a person’s true character.

So I commend Bruce, Sandy, Kyle, Taylor, and the rest of your family for facing your ambiguous test with Courage and Compassion.  Bruce fought with a courage and a fortitude like I have never seen.

At this point, I think I will tell you a couple of stories.  And those of you that know me, understand all of my stories are at least half true.

Ok, Story #1

I truly got to know Bruce a little better over the last couple of months.  This knowledge of who Bruce….this awareness of Bruce became evident as I spent some time with his wife, Sandy.  I was trying to help out with logistics, food, and navigating paperwork, insurance, all of these things…

As tough as this has been for Sandy and her family, there were these calm moments as she remembered stories of Bruce and would share some of these stories with me.  I was honored to get a peek inside of Bruce’s home life and some of those sacred family stories.   She told me a couple that have been rattling around in my head for days.  One sticks out in particular.

Rewind back to the 80’s and picture Bruce for a moment.

California Maritime Academy, Dress White Uniform, freshly pressed and he is in Seattle doing his internship at the APL container terminal.

He’s fit, young, and has just locked eyes with Sandy, who also happened to be working at APL.  Although, given the dress white uniform, I imagine that Sandy’s eyes were elsewhere.

At some point during that internship, Bruce gets up the courage to ask Sandy out on a date.  She agrees and the night starts to look promising.  However, Bruce promptly stands her up.  Just does not show up.

It looks like Bruce may have had a mischievous side to him.

Now…normally, this is the end of any story that starts like that.

Fast forward about a year maybe 2.  Bruce is now employed with APL back in Seattle.  He has graduated CMA and working for real this time at the same container terminal with Sandy. However, Sandy has no clue.   But Bruce does, and he is not letting her know it.  It just so happens that Bruce and Sandy are in different building but talking on the phone with each other on a daily basis.

At some point in this story, a friend of Sandy lets on that this is the guy that stood her up a while ago and he is looking for second chance!  Sandy says something to the effect of “Heck, no.  If he wants to go out, he needs to come over and ask me out himself”

Amazingly, Bruce finds that courage and heads over to ask Sandy back out.  I understand that it was a wonderful date and lead to a wonderful marriage.  That story is a testament of something that was just meant to be.

Those of you that knew Bruce, may have caught on somewhere along the line, that he was a fan of the acclaimed distilled spirit called Fireball.   Or as some refer to it, Dragon Spit for the sick Dragon on the label.  While invented in Canada it eventually made its way to Europe, where they promptly banned it, claiming it had propylene glycol in it.  That’s right a cinnamon shot of antifreeze.

I first ran across the fact that Bruce loved fireball on a ski trip many years ago.  I understand that many of Bruce’s Ski buddies are in this room so perhaps you have similar stories

Heading up to the Ski slopes, we would always stop at the grocery store. We usually had 3 to 4 days on the slopes and commenced to buy food for about 3 weeks.  That’s right, 5-7 unsupervised adult males in a grocery store leads to a lot of problems.  Through this exercise, we would inevitably end up in the booze aisle or the liquor store.  While most of us are grabbing Beer and Jägermeister, Bruce quickly targeted this drink called Fireball.

We quickly had to figure out what this drink was…So, we did a little research

Fireball was developed in Canada in the mid 80’s.  Back then, skiers were wearing Vuarnet Sunglasses, using Skinny Skis, and….

If you had a good Christmas, Printed Ski Suits with matching bandana.

For a long time, Fireball was little known outside of Canada.  The makers of Fireball say that it was made from a Canadian bartender’s effort to warm up from the arctic blast.

It is one of the most successful whiskies of all time, most recently even taking over Jägermeister in sales and popularity.  They evidently sold 150 million worth of this drink.  That is a lot of Fireball.

Yup, Bruce was one to something.  So we would all gather around the table on our Ski trips, pour a shot (or 5) of Fireball and toast the arctic blast.  This is a tradition that I will carry on forever.

Fireball will forever remind me and many others of Bruce.

For those of you that don’t drink or have not tried Fireball….the taste resembles the candy with a similar name, Ferrara Candy Company’s “Atomic Fireball” candy.

In closing…

Legacy is one of these words that seems over used these days and everyone seems to need one.  With Bruce, though, it’s true.  He has left behind a very real legacy and spirit that will change the way we do things at Tideworks for a very long time.

On a personal level, every one of us who knew Bruce and worked alongside him whether things were going well or badly will remember him with great affection. When all is said, and done, however much you like your work, it’s the people that you meet in it that matter and colleagues like Bruce are something very special; you don’t come across many of them and when you do, they leave a lasting impression and remind you of what is truly important in this world of ours.

Bruce, we are going miss you.

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