Those tools included a strong work ethic. Bruce never turned away a story when we offered him one. He would be the first to admit he wasn’t the best writer around and could be a bit brash during interviews, but he always brought back the heart of the story. He was hungry to get out there and meet people, learn about new issues and have a chance to be creative.
His favorite thing to cover was boxing. He talked all the time about the book “Townie’’ — a memoir by local author Andre Dubus III about growing up in Haverhill and learning to box at a local club, gaining a way to defend himself against bullies. Knowing I boxed a bit when I was a teenager, Bruce used to ask me questions about the sport. He loved to write Gazette stories about local boxers, their training and matches.
I suspect part of him wished he could have tried the sport, gained the satisfaction of a gut-busting workout, tasted the excitement of getting into the ring for just one sparring session.
But, just as in his childhood, there was no time to feel sorry for himself. There was only the next story to go after, like the one he did a few weeks ago about Haverhill boxers in the Golden Gloves competition in Lowell, or the one he planned for next week about younger local fighters competing in the Silver Mittens.
Though Bruce couldn’t spend time boxing, he did have a favorite pastime — reading. He liked all sorts of books and was a reader of mysteries, American history, biographies of presidents and biographies of famous journalists like Ernie Pyle, who reported from areas of military combat.
Rarely a week went by that Bruce didn’t talk about his frequent trips to the Broken In Books shop in Rowley, and how the owner would order him any book he wanted. When Bruce found out she could order almost anything else, like a fancy new computer keyboard, he was in heaven. He really didn’t like driving around his rough-running 1980s Volvo to different stores if he could avoid it.