The Newspaper Tribute

It was time for the viewing at the funeral home. A steady stream of people came. I was so moved when all the Boy Scouts came together in uniform to pay their respects. Our son, Blake, was touched, because they were his peers--his Boy Scout troop. Bruce's oncologist came to see her “Brucie” and to say goodbye, as did several others from Parker Hughes Cancer Treatment Center. An abundance of flowers and plants filled the funeral home. With many well wishes and wonderful stories of Bruce, I felt my heart overflowing with love.

At close to 9:00 p.m., things seemed to be winding down, and I noticed one lone man going up to pay his respects to Bruce. I had never seen him before. After some time alone at the casket, he came up to me, grabbed my hands, and introduced himself.

“You must be Lynn. My name is Dick Andzenge. I knew Bruce from St. Cloud State University where I am a profes-sor. I also knew Bruce through Men of Faith and heard about him when I became involved in the Boy Scouts. I write for the St. Cloud Times newspaper and would like your permission to publish a tribute to Bruce in tomorrow's St. Cloud Times morning edition. I couldn't get here earlier because I needed to finish writing the article to get it submitted to the editor. It is awaiting publication upon your approval.”

Without hesitation, I gave my blessing. Bruce knew a lot of people, but I had yet to discover just how significantly he had affected others. The following is what Dick sent via e-mail and what appeared the next morning in our local newspaper:

I wish to say again that I am really sorry that you and the kids will have to move on without the physical presence of Bruce. However, I am sure you know Bruce is safe with the Lord, and God used him during his short life to touch many lives. No one can comfort you or get you to understand the mystery of His grace but God Himself. Your husband was a very special person, and I trust that He who took him from you will take care of you and the children. This is the article I am submitting to St. Cloud Times in memory of Bruce.

His Short Life Made A Big Difference

By: Dick Andzenge

Someone suggested recently that Jesus was not even forty when He died, yet for such a short life, He impacted the world more than any human before and after Him. We all long for a long life and grieve deeply when we lose loved ones, even though we know that all who live shall also die. The grief becomes even more intense when a life is lost at a relatively young age. For relatives and friends of those who pass away at an early age, only time can heal the pain that results from the loss. The truth is that the quality of life has little to do with how long we live, rather, on what we do with the life we have while we are alive.

Like many people in St. Cloud, I read of the death of Bruce MacKenzie in the St. Cloud Times and was moved to tears. As I read the obituary and thought about the Bruce that I knew, it occurred to me that Bruce had done in a short life span more than a fair share of service to humanity and to the community. His life, though short, touched and enriched many lives, including mine, and needs to be celebrated.

Since he graduated from St. Cloud State University in 1985, Bruce has been an inspira-tion to everyone whose life he touched. From 1985 to 1990, he served as District Executive Director and Senior Executive with the Boy Scouts of America, Central Minnesota Council. I was not in St. Cloud at the time and not as-sociated with the Boy Scouts, but since I was asked to join the Boy Scouts board recently, almost everybody associated with the group has shared the wonderful contributions Bruce made to the Scouts during those years.

I did not know Bruce until a friend introduced me to the Men of Faith Ministry, where I met Bruce who was a Co-Chair of the group. Although we were from different backgrounds, Bruce and I connected immediately as people who had far more in common than we had that was different. We both had a passion for our faith, the St. Cloud Community, and St. Cloud State University. Bruce was deeply committed to a life of genuine kindness and friendship with everyone he met. He touched many lives by simply listening and sharing his assuring smile and stubborn confidence that all is well. In many ways, Bruce represented the best that St. Cloud has to offer. Bruce was always a friend upon whom you knew you could depend. It seemed as though Bruce was everybody's friend. His life, though short, was a beautiful testimony of the best we could be to one another.

Death at a young age seems cruel as it leaves a young widow with children confused, scared, and even angry about the apparent injustice of denying them the beautiful completeness of a loving husband and father. While there are no words of comfort that can erase the pain, we can hope that the memories of a well-lived life will endure. Many people in the community who did not know Bruce cannot appreciate that he was a special gift to the community, but those who knew him and were touched by him must remember what Bruce would say, “The ministry goes on!”

During his last few years, Bruce was the Executive Director of Development at the SCSU Foundation. For a secular institution that struggles with conflict and indifference, Bruce had a refreshing passion and gentleness, and a commitment to the institution that he loved. I hope that at the university also, his memories will endure as an example of the best that the institution produces.

It is my hope that Bruce's widow, Lynn, and their children will reap the fruits of the love and compassion that Bruce planted.

What a beautiful tribute Dick gave to Bruce and a treasured legacy he left to our children, the community at large, and me through his article. His words will forever remain a blessing in our lives. I thank God for Dick and his sharing with me and others a part of Bruce I would have never known had it not been for his accolade.

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