BRUCE ALAN GUNTHER was born on December 29, 1950 in Philadelphia. He grew up first for a few years in Runnemede and then in Barrington, NJ with his sister, Sharon, who is three years older and his brother, Keith, who is three years younger. Bruce attended Haddon Heights High School where he met and fell in love with Elizabeth, and she with him, when they were both 17 year old Juniors. Following graduation in 1969, Bruce and Elizabeth went to Wheaton College in Illinois, where Bruce majored in history. They were married March 11, 1972 during their Junior year at Wheaton and graduated in June 1973. They were one of the few married couples in their class. Bruce considered studying church history at Westminster Seminary but decided to go to law school. He worked for two years while he made that decision and applied to law schools. During that time, Bruce and Elizabeth rented a second floor apartment on Stokes Avenue in Collingwood, NJ. In 1976 they moved to the house on Third Avenue in Haddon Heights, NJ where they still live. This is just three blocks from where Bruce grew up on Chesterfield Road in Barrington and three blocks from where Elizabeth grew up on Garden Street in Haddon Heights. The house was a duplex which Bruce’s parents purchased as an investment. Bruce and Elizabeth lived on the first floor and took care of the property. They were excited to be able to have a yard and start a garden. The upstairs was an apartment. Several years later they purchased the house from Bruce’s parents. Bruce attended Rutgers Law School in Camden, graduating and passing the NJ and PA bar exams in 1978. He then clerked for one year for a Camden County Superior Court judge (a kind man who sadly was found guilty of bribery and went to jail…). Thereafter Bruce worked as an insurance defense trial attorney for almost twenty years. Karl was born in June 1979 and Bruce’s life as a father began. Three years later in June 1982 David joined the family. Their Grandpop and Grandmom, Opa and Oma, and two uncles and aunts lived within walking distance. The boys’ childhoods were happy years for Bruce and Elizabeth. Bruce had begun learning to make bread during his law school days to have something to do with his hands as a counterbalance to all the studying he had to do. He continued baking in the following years, always experimenting and wanting to improve, so that eventually he was regularly making a great variety of wonderful breads, cakes, and baked goods of all sorts, which the family enjoyed. Much time was spent together in the kitchen. Throughout his life, Bruce delighted in baking not only for the family, but also to be able to share with friends and neighbors. The family also enjoyed taking walks in town, summer vacation trips to Grandpop’s and Grandmom’s house in Vermont, and reading aloud. When the boys were young, Bruce would read The Hardy Boys books aloud. As the boys got older, he moved on to reading Nero Wolfe mysteries. Bruce would change his voice a bit for each character’s dialogue. Those were enjoyable evenings spent together. By 1990 Bruce and Elizabeth felt they needed more space for Karl and David who had a bunkbed in a small bedroom, so they stopped renting out the upstairs apartment. In one afternoon, Bruce was able to take down the wall which was in front of the stairs, opening up the stairway to the upstairs. The boys moved upstairs. Bruce never shied away from projects around the house. In 1996, the year before Karl began college at Wheaton, Bruce decided he wanted to begin his own law practice and that his office would be in our home. His desk would be in the sunporch, he would meet clients in the living room, and papers would be signed at the dining room table. He wanted to be able to help people in his own way on terms consistent with his values, not those of an employer. Elizabeth would work with him, learning along the way. For twenty five years, by God’s grace and provision, Bruce was able to serve countless friends as well as strangers (many who became friends too) by writing wills, representing them in real estate transactions, helping with estate matters, and providing all sorts of legal counsel. Being able to do it in his non-traditional way meant so much to him. Bruce was wise and fair. Because of his years of trial experience, he also served several times a month as a respected arbitrator for the NJ Superior Court in all of the southern New Jersey counties. Bruce also was appointed by the NJ Office of Attorney Ethics to serve for many years as a member of the regional ethics committee which handled ethics complaints against attorneys. Bruce didn’t do things just because “that’s how it’s done.” He wasn’t afraid to be different if it suited him. He wore quirky baseball-style hats. He could be seen almost dancing/speed walking through town swinging 6 pound Heavyhands weights as he exercised to the beat of some music on his Sony Walkman. One night he walked an old wheelbarrow from our house on Third Avenue, down Station Avenue through downtown to George’s house on Seventh Avenue. One day he spotted a perfectly good glass-top round patio table out on the curb on Atlantic Avenue ready for trash pickup and rolled it five blocks to our house so he could give it to David for his house. For years around Thanksgiving when neighbors on the block put straw bales they had used for fall decoration at the curb for trash pickup, he would take his garden cart and go get them. Then he and Elizabeth would drive up and down the nearby streets, looking for straw bales to load into the car so they could use the straw to mulch the garden the next year. One year they picked up discarded pumpkins for their sister-in-law Earline’s chickens too. They had great fun doing it. Bruce loved music. He played the violin as a teen. He liked lots of different kinds of music; Bach and most classical, but also the songs of the 1920’s and 1930’s. Bruce was Bruce. Bruce’s life was guided by his faith. When he was 17 while attending Haddon Heights Baptist Church with Elizabeth and several other friends from school, he believed the good news that Jesus loved him and had died for him. After college he and Elizabeth became members at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. In the 1980’s Bruce taught an adult Sunday School bible study class with Steve Taylor. At that time Bruce and Steve never dreamed that their son and daughter, David and Anna, would one day also teach a Sunday School class together at Tenth and then marry! God works in amazing ways. Bruce served as an Elder at Tenth and also at Covenant Presbyterian Church where the family attended for about ten years in the 1990’s before returning to Tenth. As an Elder, Bruce always considered it a great privilege and joy to serve Communion to the congregation. It should be no surprise that while at Covenant Bruce would also bake the bread for the Communion service. Bruce also served on the Board of Alpha Pregnancy Services (now AlphaCare). For forty-one years Bruce and Elizabeth were part of the South Jersey Wednesday night Bible Study group which was led by their dear friends, David and Yoshin Swank. Bruce loved to study and teach, often using the Socratic method of asking questions. Some of his studies were unusual and memorable! As his Parkinson’s progressed and it became difficult to lead a Bible Study, he was sad to no longer be able to do so. The loving friendships forged through those many years of time spent together studying the Scriptures and praying were used by God to support and encourage Bruce and Elizabeth during the years of his illness. From when he was diagnosed in 2016 to his final days, Bruce accepted Parkinson’s as God’s path for him and never complained. During the past year or so, even in the midst of his Parkinson’s dementia when we often/usually could not understand what he was saying, Bruce when he would pray would begin so clearly with “Our gracious heavenly Father, we come to you with joy.” Bruce is with his heavenly Father today experiencing endless joy.
Friends and Family are invited to attend his visitation Friday, August 4, 2023 at 10:30 am at the DuBois Funeral Home, 700 South White Horse Pike, Audubon, NJ 08106. The funeral service will follow at 11:00 am. Funeral arrangements under the direction of DuBois Funeral Home. Condolences and memories may be shared at DuboisFuneralHome.