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Sunday, December 10, 2023
10:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)
Sunday, December 10, 2023
Starts at 12:00 pm (Central time)
On Tuesday, December 5, Bruce Denk passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus while enjoying his lunch. Two weeks earlier he had celebrated his 86th birthday with all of his family present.
Bruce was born in Winona, Minnesota, on November 16, 1937, to Bernard and Ethel Denk. Much of his childhood was spent in the Wisconsin woods and on the Mississippi River, where he cultivated a lifelong love for the outdoors. While attending Alma High School, he met Cindy Smith, and a romance that lasted over 65 years blossomed between the basketball player and cheerleader. Bruce and Cindy graduated from Alma High School in 1957 and 1960, respectively, and were married on July 15, 1961. They soon made their way to Tennessee where Bruce was serving in the US Army. After finishing his two years of service to his country, the young couple returned to Alma, Wisconsin, where they began raising their family.
Bruce worked as an Ironworker for over 30 years. He began working with his father, Barney, who mentored him in the early years. At the end of his career, Bruce famously tightened the last bolt on the “new” Wabasha bridge, so look carefully next time you cross the expanse to make sure that bolt is still secure.
Bruce and Cindy were members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Alma. They raised their four children in the church and were involved in several ministries. Bruce traveled on mission trips, was involved with the Men’s ministry and Bible study, and was up to the task for whatever needed to be done, including climbing the ladder to put the Easter lilies on the cross.
Bruce enjoyed many outdoor interests, and his gardens were a sight to behold. He truly was the tomato whisperer, developing his own technique of preparing the ground, planting, watering, fertilizing, and staking up his plants, leading to impressive harvests. He enjoyed long afternoons working in the garden until Cindy called him up the hill for supper. In addition to gardening, he brewed over a hundred fantastic batches of beer, keeping detailed notes about each batch and proudly using ingredients from Buffalo County when possible.
Beyond the hobbies he enjoyed at home, Bruce could be found fishing from his boat in the wiggle waggle, hunkering down in the reeds waiting for ducks, sitting in his deer stand, or patiently ice fishing, usually bringing home a meal for his family to enjoy. Bruce’s love for adventure took him many places. After retirement, he made several trips to Alaska. These trips included activities such as climbing the Chilkoot Trail, canoeing down the Yukon River, observing bears on Kodiak Island, and fishing for salmon and halibut.
Bruce and Cindy traveled regularly to visit children and grandchildren in Florida, Virginia, and California. He had a knack for calming fussy babies when his grandchildren were little, and he proudly taught those same grandchildren how to catch fish. When his own children entered adulthood, he had a tactful way of nudging them in the right direction. He thought deeply and cared deeply about his family, and it showed.
After his Parkinson’s disease progressed, Bruce’s outdoor activities slowed down, but his love for life carried on. No longer able to travel, he received visitors from far and wide, and he anxiously awaited their arrivals and gave them a smiling thumbs up when they left, asking when they could visit again. His move into Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Nursing Home in 2022 provided him with a new set of friends and caretakers to charm. And charm them he did! His family is grateful for the quality care he received there.
Bruce was committed to making things last. He held tight to his unwavering faith, his love for Cindy, his commitment to family, his dedication to friends, and even the careful maintenance of his riding lawnmowers and chainsaws. He was in it for the long haul, and everyone knew it. He truly cared for what was entrusted to him.
Bruce is survived by his wife Cindy, two sisters Ellen and Nancy (Jerry), two daughters Lisa (Mark) and Dana (Greg), two sons Tracy (Amy) and Tony (Jennifer), nine grandchildren, one great grandchild Max who adored his GrandBumpa, another great grandchild on his way, and many in-laws, nieces, and nephews who will miss him dearly.
Visitation will be held on Sunday, December 10, at St. John Lutheran church in Alma from 10am until the time of the memorial service at noon.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate memorials to St. John Lutheran Church at 709 S Second St, Alma, WI 54610.
Or, if you prefer, find someone in need this Christmas season and find a creative way to lift their spirits. Bruce would like that.