It is with great sadness that we announce the passing on June 24th of our family patriarch, (Edward) Bruce Witmer, at the age of 91, at his farm, Speedside Holsteins, Cambridge.
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Bruce was born November 7, 1929 to Leslie D. and Elma Witmer. He was predeceased by his brother Stewart (Mary), sister Beatrice (Norman Shantz) and brother in law Dr. Joseph Burkholder. He is survived by his sister, Helen.
In 1956, he married Joyce Dechert, with whom he shared 53 years of marriage until her death in 2009. Bruce is the cherished father of Wendy (David) Imrie, Nancy (Dr. Bert) Loggan, and Steven (Karen) Witmer. Cherished grandfather to Chris (Jordan Maksymyk) and Heather (Steven Veltri) Imrie, Mary (Zach Halliday), Marcus (Kelsey Huitema), and Amy Loggan, and Ryan (predeceased 2019), Adam, Laura (Dan Miller) and Amanda Witmer. Remembered by Ryan’s daughters, Clara and Jules, and their mother, Jenna. Bruce is also survived by brother in law Robert (Laurene Catania) Dechert.
In 2010, Bruce married Pat Kinzie (predeceased 2019). For 9 years they enjoyed volunteering, entertaining and driving in the country. Fondly remembered by her children, Susan (Rob) Keller, Gord (Leslie Schiedel), Kathy (Bruce Williams), Betty (Jonathan Towell), Don (Sandie Muir) and Nancy (Bill Siegfried). Bruce held many special memories of Pat’s large extended family.
Bruce was a leader in the agricultural community. He was a 4-H leader for more than 55 years, many of those with the sponsorship of the Galt Cambridge Kiwanis club. For his contributions to bridging the rule urban gap, he was given a Paul Harris Fellowship award by the Preston Hespeler Rotary Club. He was President of the Galt (now Cambridge) Fair in 1968 and 1969 and was a director for many years. His role in many community building projects in Cambridge earned him the Citizen of the Year Award in 2005. He held leadership roles in many farm organizations including the Soil and Crop Association and the Waterloo County Milk Committee.
A prominent landmark along the 401, Speedside Holsteins hosted many school visits for decades, urban/rural gatherings for service clubs, church functions, and visits from politicians and cattle breeders from around the world. Bruce was a generous community supporter and volunteer with a focus on the Cambridge Memorial Hospital, The Food Bank, The Cambridge Gleaners and The Bridges Shelter. He was especially concerned about the wellbeing of others or those needing assistance for food, housing and social/emotional issues. He thoroughly enjoyed supporting refugee families coming to the area and acquired housing for them in conjunction with his church. He appreciated the friendships and supported many initiatives of Preston Mennonite Church.
Bruce impacted the lives of many young people in Waterloo Region and beyond over the years through his 4-H involvement. He was respected and admired for his patience, friendliness and encouragement, while displaying his fun loving, enthusiastic and humorous personality. Many looked up to him as a role model and valued him as a mentor as he challenged them to become agricultural leaders. He enjoyed conversing and making friendships wherever he went. Along with his wife Joyce, he initiated and supported Junior Dairy Shows for children ages 10 -12 across Southwestern Ontario, held in both Elora and Woodstock. He continued this involvement for 20 more years. It gave him great pride, joy and satisfaction to see children gaining life lessons by preparing calves for a show and learning to do things with others through experience. He thoroughly enjoyed the relationships made each year at these shows and cherished each picture and thank you letter sent to him.
In his lifetime, Bruce won many awards for his accomplishments. In 1950, he was very proud to be chosen to represent Canada at a 3 month World Agricultural Judging Competition in England and Scotland. Highlights for Bruce were sailing on the RMS Queen Mary and meeting the Queen Mother. In 2001, an oak tree was planted at Steckle Farm in Kitchener when Bruce received the first Ontario 4-H Arbour Award for his longtime leadership. In 2016, he was given Holstein Canada’s Certificate of Recognition for his extensive commitment and long term dedication to the industry.
Bruce enjoyed traveling for the purpose of assisting countries in meaningful ways. A trip to Cuba in 1969 enabled him to learn about their dairy cattle breeding industry and to meet Fidel Castro. In 2014, he enjoyed a mission trip to the Dominican Republic to witness and distribute soup produced by the Gleaners to needy families and to assist with building a school. In 2016, he travelled with MEDA to the Ukraine to learn about the farming industry there.
Most importantly, Bruce instilled in his children and grandchildren a strong work ethic, active community involvement and the value of friends and family. His goal was to make sure everyone was busy and productive. His enthusiasm for life was always evident. He maintained a positive focus and determination despite his body slowing down and still had goals and projects he wanted done. Over the years, many people and organizations enjoyed vegetables from his productive gardens.
Thank you to the medical team and all who provided homecare in the last few months. Special thanks to Dr. Parveen Gupta, Samantha from Warm Embrace, and Abdi from BloomCare.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, a private funeral service will be by invitation only.
A drive thru visitation will be held at the farm, 390 Pinebush Road, Cambridge on Wed. June 30th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In memory of Bruce, donations to Ontario Christian Gleaners, The Cambridge Shelter Corporation (The Bridges), or a charity of your choice would be most appreciated. Funeral arrangements entrusted to Lounsbury Funeral Home, Cambridge.
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains immortal.” Albert Pike