July 23, 1927 – December 14, 2018
From the banks of her beloved Plum Creek in the Nebraska Sandhills to a villa in the Vienna woods, Patricia Ann Bruce savored all that life had to offer. Born in Omaha, the daughter of Dean and Grace Nordin, Pat attended Central High School and the University of Nebraska. She was AOII song leader and president and wrote "Patter by Pat", a column for the Daily Nebraskan.
When Pat first met Jack Bruce at college, she was unimpressed. He wore a hat and carried a briefcase. But Jack won Pat over with his wit, charm and devastating good looks. They were married in 1950. After living and working in Lincoln and Alliance, they settled in Omaha. Jack was headmaster of Brownell Talbot School, and Pat a stay-at-home mom.
In 1967, the family made the first of many overseas moves. Jack was director of the American International School in Vienna, Austria. Pat met the challenge of renovating the director's residence (a crash course in German) and spent the next four years hosting school events; soaking up music, art and culture; and planning family trips all over Europe. She traded “guten tag” for “hey, y'all” with a move to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where Jack finished his doctorate in international education. Then, off to the Philippines and the International School in Manila. Upon arrival, a typhoon brought the island nation to a standstill and Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Pat handled the upheaval with her unique brand of courage and compassion, helping to sack rice for flood victims in the typhoon's aftermath.
Their adventures continued in New York City. Jack was director of the United Nations International School, Pat a substitute teacher. Together they enjoyed exploring the city that never sleeps. Next stop: Athens, Greece. Pat taught at the American School, chaperoned school trips, hosted boarding school events and made huge pans of lasagna for John's friends. In 1984, they moved to Saudi Arabia where they worked for Saudi Arabian International Schools until Jack's death in 1990. Pat received an award for staying to teach during the first gulf war. She rode her bike to school every day, gas mask in hand, watched Soviet Scud missiles fly overhead and helped wash birds recovered from oil spills.
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In 1992, Pat retired and moved to Lincoln. She volunteered with the Nebraska Democrats and Planned Parenthood, sang in her church choir, served as a docent for Sheldon Museum of Art. She loved going to the Lied Center, the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, and other arts events and movies. She continued to travel, visiting Chile, Guatemala and Mexico. Pat met Dan Sullivan in 1999. They shared a love for dancing and travel and got married in Hawaii in 2002. They traveled to Ireland and wintered in Texas where they enjoyed golf, socializing with friends and walking the beach. They attended Husker football games, First Fridays and countless recitals and school events of her grandchildren.
Pat's bravery, persistence and zest for life afforded her many experiences: skiing in Austria, snorkeling in the Philippines, a hot air balloon safari in Kenya. A lifelong learner, she mastered German, studied Spanish in Guatemala, and earned a master's degree in education at 60. Pat was a fashionista and a feminist who joined the throngs in the Women's March and always wore great shoes. Above all, she loved her family and made more chocolate chip cookies than you could shake a stick at.
Pat is survived by her husband, Dan Sullivan, son John Bruce, daughters and sons-in-law Ann and Mark Watt and Mary Jane Bruce and Tom Stephens, sister and brother-in-law Pam and John Jepsen, sister-in-law Ann Nordin and many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who loved her and will miss her.
Memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, December 21, at Wyuka Funeral Home, Lincoln. Memorials to Carry The Future (carrythefuture.org). Condolences at Wyuka.com.