Warriors will miss ‘Bruce Almighty’
If one took in a football game rooting on the Warriors of Alta-Aurelia this recently completed season, they might have noticed things just a little quieter. The same will be true, even more so since the sound is intensified indoors, if said fans decide to come and take in a basketball game at the high school. The reason things haven’t been as raucous, and unfortunately will never be again, is that Warrior super supporter Bruce Voogd passed away last month and now will be pulling for his Warriors from the best seat in the house.
Bruce, or “Bruce Almighty” as he was known throughout town, has been cheering for the Warriors for as long as people can remember. Whereas I never had the chance to make his acquaintance, those I have talked to have told me that he was a great guy, fellow parishioner, great neighbor, great friend, and that once you met him, you would never forget him. He liked to jam to music while mowing his yard or clearing the driveway of snow, and would play air guitar while listening to his tunes.
“I was his neighbor, right across the street and we had some playful banter as he was a Vikings fan and I am a Steelers fan. He is a definite example of first impressions might be wrong, don’t judge a book by its cover. One time during a big snowstorm when we had school cancelled, my sons and I were out trying to play basketball and that was right up his alley, as he came out and played with us, he just loved to have fun,” said Wendell Larson high school math teacher. “We would have our windows closed during the winter and we would hear something outside and when we looked out, there was Bruce scooping the snow, playing his air guitar and just having the time of his life. At games, he might get a bit too excited at times, but he was always there for the kids and he was always so positive when he interacted with them. He loved the watch the kids play and the kids just loved him.”
Bruce’s excitement did get the best of him at times as once, after he offered his glasses to an official for a call he thought he had missed, he was asked to leave the gym. This was a rare occurrence, as he absolutely loved cheering on the athletes and he made sure to always ask about when the next game was so that he could be in attendance. Basketball was the sport that most remember Bruce from, but he enjoyed all athletics.
“I knew Bruce as an Alta Cyclone back in the day. He had a heart of gold and was a huge Alta Cyclone, Alta-Aurelia Warrior fan. During basketball games he would be standing on the wall, much like the principals did and we worshipped those kids. He would always praise them and they would say something back to him to get him fired up,” said local farmer Todd Friedrich. “You just had to know him and get into his world. Just a great guy and would do anything for you and he was so loyal. You always knew where Bruce was at during games and people loved seeing him there. Sometimes he got a little too excited, but people knew that was just Bruce and that’s what made him loved by all. He would respect when people asked him to tone it down a bit, as he wanted to be there for the kids.”
Sports wasn’t Bruce’s only passion, as he was also heavily involved in his local church. He wanted to be a part of something and give of himself. Whether it was serving meals, helping out with church programs, or going as a sponsor on trips, if he had the chance, Bruce stepped up to help others.
“We had a flag football program at the church for over 20 years that he was a part of when available. Whether it was helping by serving the meal afterwards to the kids or cheering on the players with excitement and encouragement, and even was an assistant coach when we were shorthanded. He served however he could,” local resident Dan Sliefert said of Bruce. “Members of the church mentioned Bruce was at almost all events that were planned, if he could make it. They talked about his strong faith and dedication to learn more. It was mentioned that his Bible was well worn with notes written on most pages. Bruce was someone who each of us could easily take for granted because of his selfless attitude, his lack of complaining and his overall relentless positive attitude and energy. He will be missed!”
So when the new basketball season tips off here in a few weeks, you might have to cheer just a bit louder, as one of the biggest fans around will not be in attendance. Bruce Voogd was a man of faith, loved by all who got the chance to get to know him, and truly will be missed by many. Rest in peace Bruce Almighty.