Bruce Edward Donaldson was born to Carl and Flossie Donaldson on February 13, 1943, in Dos Palos, CA. Bruce left the earth to join his heavenly family on February 23, 2023.
The redhaired and freckle faced boy’s earliest days of life were spent in his birthplace, but most of his childhood took place in Fair Oaks, CA, where he grew up alongside his younger brother, Bradley. From boyhood to old age, Bruce also enjoyed the company of many beloved dogs. In fact, one of his favorite stories from his youth involved sharing a dog, named Askem, with his brother. The story always began with a person or two asking,” Boys, what is your dog’s name?”, to which the boys would reply, “Askem”. What then ensued was a several minutes long “Who’s on First?” style yarn with confused adults trying to pry the dog’s name from his young masters. The story never got old. Watching 60-year-old men tell those stories could always get the room laughing to the point of tears. As a child, Bruce gained his lifelong love of hunting and fishing, while enjoying camping trips with his family and friends. Many of the best times were shared with Uncle Hugh, Aunt Mary and their sons, Gary and Clint. All his fabled early adventures seem to involve the fun and mischief Bruce, Brad, Gary and Clint would create together. Even some of the best grown up stories seemed to involve the four Donaldsons. In his teen years, Bruce attended San Juan High School, where he excelled and lettered in track and field. Some of his school track records stood for more than a decade!
In 1961, after high school, Bruce joined the United States Navy. There he learned the trade of boiler tending, gained the nickname, Red and made “forever’ friendships. Bruce was stationed on the USS Taussig, out of San Diego, CA. He served during Vietnam, and spent time in Okinawa, Japan. In 1965, his brother, Bradley also joined the Navy, wherein they spent about 8 moths together aboard the Taussig, before Bruce ended his service in 1966. Shortly after becoming a civilian again, Bruce was able to parlay his Navy trade into a fulltime career as an engineer. Aside from his time as a business agent for Local 39 Operating and Stationary Engineers during the mid and late 1970’s, Bruce spent his engineering career – often rising to the position of Chief – working in hospitals stretching from Santa Cruz to Sacramento, CA.
Bruce married his first wife, Dana O’Connor, in 1968. The couple had two children together: a daughter, Leslie and a son, Erick. As a young father, Bruce enjoyed sharing his enthusiasm for the outdoors and his love of camping with his wife and children – he also loved scaring the wits out of everyone by telling ghost stories! The family took many vacations in the mountains and along the beaches of California. He shared hunting trips throughout California, Oregon and New Mexico with family and friends. He particularly enjoyed deer hunting with his son and son-in-law in the 1990’s. Bruce and Dana parted ways in 1989.
Bruce reconnected with his childhood sweetheart, Mary Tryon, whom he married in 1990. Bruce and Mary loved to travel cross-country, fish along the American River and houseboat on Lake Shasta. Bruce took early retirement after suffering an on-the-job injury. He and Mary went on to share many years together, happily married. Between their combined three children, they were eventually blessed by six grandchildren, whom Bruce loved very much. He liked telling stories and sharing his love of history with his grandkids. He especially enjoyed passing along his zest for outdoorsmanship and how to be good stewards of nature, even when he was unable to continue hunting. Undoubtedly, the best of him will live on in his grandchildren.
Bruce was preceded in death by his parents and stepson, Dana Sucevich. He is survived by his wife, Mary Donaldson, brother, Bradly (Peggy) Donaldson, daughter, Leslie (Corbin) Berkenpas, son Erick (Cherene) Donaldson, grandchildren, Madison Berkenpas, Easton (Brittney) Berkenpas, Savanna Donaldson, Sommer Sucevich, Grace Donaldson and Wyatt Donaldson, as well as many nieces and nephews and other beloved family members.
Somewhere up there, he’s fishing and telling stories with the friends and loved ones who went on before him.