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March 27, 2014

Bruce Amaro to be missed by colleagues, community

EDITOR’S NOTE: Bruce Amaro, a correspondent who wrote stories for the Gazette for several years, died unexpectedly last week. This column remembers him as a writer and a man.

When I became the editor of the Gazette and met Bruce Amaro, I reached out for a handshake.

He quickly reached back, but used his left hand to grasp my right hand firmly.

It was an awkward moment, but I came to find out why he used his left instead of his right.

When Bruce was a child, he was afflicted with polio. It cost him the use of his right arm and hand.

As I got to know Bruce, I came to realize the impact this had on him — physically and emotionally. I learned this not through complaints or excuses or even a bad attitude, because Bruce rarely engaged in any of these, but through the stories he would share about his childhood.

I learned, for example, that because of the polio damage, he was never able to play competitive sports like many of his peers. Some of the kids at school teased him about his disability, uttering things like his mother probably tied his shoes for him.

But even as a kid, Bruce never gave in to bullies. If he got teased about tying his shoes, he would reach down and untie them, then quickly retie them with his single good hand. Everyone would watch in amazement and the bullies would shut their mouths.

When push came to shove on the school yard, Bruce defended himself with his strong left arm, learning to punch and wrestle one-handed against any bully who challenged him. He learned at a young age not to feel sorry for himself, and to use whatever tools God gave him to become a success.

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