After meeting my mom, Mary, at the tender age of 15 my dad bought wedding and engagement rings and put them in a safety deposit box.
Five years later in 1947, after completing service in the Navy, Bruce and Mary were married. They moved to Los Alamos in 1953 and lived in the first trailer court in town in a 8 X 35 foot trailer, which they had pulled 1,000 miles with their old Studebaker from Burlington, Iowa!
I was 2 and my brother Michael was 5 the first time we showed our pass to gain entrance to town! Los Alamos was a great place to grow up. Dad worked for the Proforce as a Security Inspector for 10 years before his promotion to Fabrication Technician at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
My parents loved the outdoors, we spent our weekends hiking and investigating the canyons and mesas. We spent all of dads vacation time taking long 1-2 week camping trips! My dad made things fun! We moved into our Denver Steel just before my little sister Brita was born. It felt like moving into a mansion after living in our little trailer! My parents set about making it ours even though the government still owned all of the houses in town. We cut our own logs to build a livable cabin in our back yard and made an outdoor fireplace where we enjoyed countless evenings roasting marshmallows!
In the winter one year dad built us our own ice skating rink and igloo in the back yard! The winters offered plenty of snow for sledding and snowball fights! I remember the Halloween my dad scared the pants off our neighbors! He delighted in entertaining kids! Dad was special I don’t know of too many people who celebrate their birthdays by giving their kids presents!
When dad retired from the labs in 1983, my parents decided it was time to leave the “big city” and build their dream home. They found the perfect location down five miles of dirt road near Heron lake. With their own four hands they mixed cement for a large basement, hauled native rock for the basement walls, put up a cedar kit home, wired, plumbed, painted, stained, finished and loved it! They didn’t stop there! They added a huge garage/workshop and an RV garage, greenhouse, two gazebos, and rock gardens.
My parents always had time to enjoy each other on long walks, short road trips, camping expeditions, or just sitting on their porch swing enjoying their view of the Brazos. Their home was our favorite place to enjoy the Christmas holidays! Grandpa Bruce spent hours on his old farm tractor pulling inner-tube trains filled with grandchildren over the snow covered dirt roads around their area!
My dad didn’t miss one evening of giving our mom a foot rub! Our parents never stopped working and enjoying life together! One and a half years ago when Alzheimer’s began to take its toll my parents came back to Los Alamos to live with my husband Jack and me. What a blessing to have that extra time together. My mom never left my dads side. She was the best care giver you could ever imagine. We will always be grateful for the loving support we received from the Los Alamos Visiting Nurses Hospice program. They are wonderful!
“Grandpa Bruce was good at living in the present moment,” was the explanation Desmond, one of his great grandsons, gave for why dad did such a great job coping with Alzheimer’s!
Oct. 9, under the full Harvest Moon and surrounded by loved ones, Bruce Emerson Burkheimer passed into the spirit world after opening his eyes one last time to tell my mom how much he loved her. He is greatly missed but we know we’ll catch up to him soon!
Bruce was preceded in death by his son Michael, grandson David and great grandson José. He left behind his beloved wife Mary, his two daughters, Sally Fellers and husband Jack, Brita Douglas and husband Peter, 10 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren and 11 great great grandchildren, and one on the way.
We know you are close dad, we will love you forever!