Bruce Scott Campbell, of Shelburne, died peacefully at home on Dec. 17, 2020, after having been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal brain tumor, 14 months earlier.
Like the sand irritant that creates the pearl, Bruce’s journey through the relentlessly challenging universe of terminal illness clarified the dignity of this inherently noble yet humble man.
Bruce was born on Nov. 17, 1957, in Indianapolis, where he was an Eagle Scout and National Merit Scholar.
He felt like he really came home when he made his way to Manhattan as a young adult. He had a gift for finding the really good quality things, whether it was a piece of music, a theatrical performance or an eccentric friend.
Although he made his living in corporate communications and had a fulfilling, rich career at Ciba Geigi, Ernst & Young, Keurig Green Mountain, and Tesaro, he was, at heart, an artist. He produced radio programs for public radio, wrote plays that were produced in Manhattan and Indiana, played piano beautifully, produced an independent feature film, was a wonderful singer (who surprised his wife at their wedding reception by singing two love songs, which he had secretly been rehearsing for weeks) and was a gifted actor who loved the theater through and through and performed widely, especially after moving to his beloved Vermont 14 years ago.
Bruce performed in various productions affiliated with Vermont Stage Company, Stowe Theatre Guild, and Middlebury Actors Workshop. He was also very active and committed to the Vermont Stage Young Playwright’s program, and a founding member of the Champlain Valley Down Syndrome Group.
Bruce had an exceptional ability to clarify things — he would be silent in the midst of a prolonged debate, and then say something that was stunningly precise, using only as many words as necessary. He was utterly trustworthy and though gifted in so many ways, never arrogant or dismissive of his plainspoken Midwestern roots.
He was a steady, strong, wise and witty father to his beloved two sons, and a treasure to his wife of 30 years.
At 61, he learned he had about a year to live. In the ensuing months, he never complained, but did say he was sad that he wasn’t going to get more of the life he wholeheartedly loved. He was a deeply spiritual man who found great comfort and wisdom in the Christian mystical tradition and Buddhist teachings.
When asked how he felt knowing he would die soon, he said, “I am astonished and alert.” His last coherent statement, as the tumor was just about done ravishing his brain and body, was “I have always wanted to immerse myself in glorious faraway places, but I feel constrained.”
Now, though we miss him beyond words, he is free.
He is survived by his wife Elizabeth, sons Ian and Jesse, and his sister Bari, who are all deeply grateful for the kind and competent care given him by Dr. Alissa Thomas, Dr. Bruce Tranmer, and the gifted University of Vermont hospice staff.
Donations in Bruce’s memory may be made to Special Olympics Vermont or Heartbeet Life Sharing, a community for adults with intellectual abilities.
A celebration of Bruce’s life will be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, via Zoom, on Saturday, Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. Following the funeral service, you are invited to stay online for an informal time to share your fond recollections of this beautiful and beloved man.
Join the Zoom meeting at bit.ly/38nEgHI.