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Bruce John VanDerwater, a patient and humble man who loved hugging his wife, and sharing his love of nature with his children and grandchildren, passed on just two weeks after his 85th birthday party where he shared laughter and homemade apple pie with family. He will be remembered as a gentle husband, father, papa, and friend, a master of dad jokes before they were cool, a fan of jelly doughnuts, and a person who showed deep gratitude throughout his life.
Bruce was born in Syracuse, NY on October 8, 1936 as the only child of George VanDerwater and Jane (Kuryla) VanDerwater. A 1954 graduate of Solvay High School in Solvay, NY, Bruce married Betty Palmer in 1963, and for the 58 years of their marriage, he loved dancing with her and filling their home with the boogie-woogie and blues piano music he played by ear. Combining his musical talents and sense of humor, he wrote, played, and sang songs including The Fishing Weekend Blues. The High Score Golfer Blues, and The Thursday Night Bowler Blues. Despite everyone’s surprise, none of these became a gold record.
Valued for his creative problem solving skills, Bruce was an electrical model maker with Xerox for 33 years, teaming with engineers and specialists to create prototype machines. He was very involved in building his family’s home in Victor and raising five wonderful and successful children. Consistently wise, kind, and true to himself, he was the calm in the storm of their large, happily chaotic family.
Bruce knew how to fix everything, and he showed his love through actions: siding the house, tuning up cars, building bird feeders, making pickles from homegrown cucumbers, and finishing the basement for an ever-growing family. Bruce adored the family’s camp in the Adirondacks where he enjoyed building campfires, fishing for brook trout, pulling a cold Pabst Blue Ribbon from the “crick,” and quietly watching his children and grandchildren play on pink granite waterslides.
Living his strong sense of civic duty and over 35-year commitment to community, Bruce served as chair of both the Victor Conservation Council and the Ontario County Conservation Board. He was a member of the Victor Town Planning Board and the Knights of Columbus, a volunteer at the Victor-Farmington Food Cupboard, and an active parishioner of St. Patrick’s Church for many years. Bruce was instrumental in the creation of Boughton Park in Victor, NY, and he faithfully acted as Commissioner and one of the Representatives to the Boughton Park Board of Directors for 17 years. In 2007, the Town of Victor awarded Bruce a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of his years of service to this protected land which reminded him of the Adirondacks.
Bruce leaves behind his family who surrounded him in love throughout his life: wife Elizabeth VanDerwater of Victor, NY, children Mark VanDerwater (Amy) of Holland, NY, Amy Holland (Carter) of Andover, MA, Michael VanDerwater (Suzi) of Sandy, OR, Heather Tielens (Jamey) of Trumansburg, NY, and Peter VanDerwater (Leah) of Takoma Park, MD, as well as grandchildren Hope, Georgia, Sam, Henry, Davis, Libby, Madi, Teo, and Quinn.
Calling hours will be held at Miller Funeral and Cremation Services of Victor at 301 West Main Street in Victor, NY on Thursday, October 28 from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. The family kindly asks for attendees to please register for a time for calling hours by CLICKING HERE. A funeral mass will be celebrated on Friday, October 29 at St. Catherine of Siena Church, 25 Mendon Ionia Road, in Mendon, NY 14506 at 10:00 a.m. Masks are required for both calling hours and funeral. Bruce was a fisherman, birdwatcher, naturalist, and longtime conservationist, and anyone who wishes to honor his life is encouraged to do so by donating trees through The Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees Campaign. Bruce’s family is grateful to the staff of FF Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua, NY, for their care and compassion and his friends for their support and love.