Printed December 10. 2003 in the La Crosse Tribune and written by Matt James
His humor almost made you
forget about the brain cancer

Bruce used to send out these e-mails that could make you snort-laugh for a week. He would never have admitted it, but the man was wonderful with words.

A human being so unshakably organized should not have also had creativity, but then again, Bruce Staples was blessed with so much that defied logic.

His e-mails during the past year were supposed to be updates on his health, a way to let those faithfully praying for him know that he was fighting still, like there was any doubt.

Of course that's not how Bruce worked. He was never supposed to be in the spotlight, never wanted to be honored. He was the Christmas pageant volunteer who picked up the kids, made the costumes, built the manger, herded the shepherds onstage, then snuck out the back as the director took the bows.

So the e-mails turned into satire, with a subtle dash of I'm-sorry-to-be-bothering- you. Mostly, he made fun of himself, his ever-increasingly bald head, the time he hit the garage with the family minivan, his tongue-in-cheek concern about a doctor his wife said "looked good" after one of his surgeries.

The only pain he ever really described was the removal of the hospital tape that held his IV in place: "... a large enough piece to insure that every hair on my arm or wrist would be subjected to the incredible adhesive power of the superior 3M product. "

It almost made you forget that brain cancer crippled him a little more every day, It almost made you forget that the soft-spoken man who had given so much of himself to God and community, had been handed the ultimate injustice at age 44.

It was a death sentence, one that two brain surgeries and radiation could hardly slow down. Statistics - the kind that would never understand faith or heart or hope - said he would live 10 months. Bruce died Sunday, 10 months after the diagnosis.

He volunteered to help youth groups, then the Boy Scouts, where he was a Scoutmaster for 10 years, then the Boys and Girls Club and eventually becoming president of the executive board.

He would wake at 4 a.m., go to his job at Dairyland Power, then to Mass, then work-out at the YMCA, then eat,breakfast, then go back to work. When most of us would have crawled home to sleep, that's when he gave his time to Scouts.

They were so inspired by him that last year, before he was about to retire, 21 became Eagle Scouts.

"That is just unheard of in one council, let alone one troop," says Dirk Gasterland, the former council president of the area's Boy Scouts.
And remember, this was months before they found the cancer.                           
Mary Rohrer, the executive director of the local Girl Scouts council, went to Bruce three years ago with a big grin and said flat out, "I
think it's time for you to help the Girl Scouts."

He looked at her and said, Well,-Sure," and the best part is she actually had to go to a Boys & Girls Club banquet just to find him.

They put him on the executive board and made him the. nominating committee chairman, and in the next three years - even though he had no daughters -' he would not miss a single meeting, even this year, 'as he was dying.

"I was so impressed with his dedication to kids"Rohrer says.  This fall, Gail Cleary another Girl Scouts board ,member, pitched the idea of , Bruce Staples Campership Endowment, a fund that would help girls with Physical disabilities attend Camp Ehawee, near Galesville. In five days, she had $6,500.

Bishop Raymond Burke himself used to say he would do anything for Bruce, would help make any of his projects happen.

Toward the end, when Bruce was losing the battle, Sue Staples wrote a few of the health updates. Admittedly she didn't have his flair and so on Saturday, she asked 'if I would read through the obituary she had written.

Bruce died before she could send it. His funeral will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman.
But Sue called Monday to apologize for not sendin it to me sooner. Only the wife of BruceStaples.

"I thought we had a littIle more time," she said

If only we did.
Bruce addressing the 75th anniversary celebration audience.
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As printed in the Dec.9, 2003 La Crosse Tribune
Bruce Staples 

Bruce Staples went to his. Heavenly home Sunday,
Dec. 7, 2003. His family was with him when1is spirit left  this earth.

Bruce was born July 17, 1958, to Dr. Lawrence and Marilyn Staples. He grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and graduated from Iowa State University with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. He accepted a position with Dairyland Power Cooperative in 1981, a company he was  proud to represent and be a part of. At the time of his I cancer diagnosis he was vice president of the Transmission Division.

Bruce wasn't in La Crosse very long before his volun teering spirit took flight. His ventures into youth work, youth ministry and service included English Lu Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Boy Scouts of America and Boys & Girls Club of Greater La Crosse. He also was active in Girl Scouts USA, Rotary Club, Dairyland Power Credit Union, United Way, Blessed Sacrament Church, Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman, the Diocese of La Crosse and Coulee Region Professional Engineering Societies.

Bruce was Scout Master of BSA troops 47 and 11;  taught Ad Altare Dei  religious emblems for Boy  Scouts, taught confirmation at Blessed Sacrament Parish and interviewed applicants for an engineering scholarship. He truly enjoyed being part of these organizations.

His work with youth garne red many friendships throughout the years. Many of the young people have remained in contact. The travel, be it for the Boys and Girls club or  were adventures, with many of the  young adults learning to play euchre. Some of  the places he visited while working with  youth were: Sea Base (scuba  diving in Florida), the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Glacier National Park,  the Banff/Lake Louise area of Canada, Philmont Scout Ranch and NBC baseball tournament sites.

Bruce was united in marriage to Susan Kortness on May 2, 1992. 

Bruce is survived by his wife, Sue; son, Kyle; his parents; a brother, Alan (Sue); a sister, Mary (Michael); father- and mother-in-law, Vernon and Caroline; sisters-in-law, Debe and Kari; nieces, Charlene and  Elizabeth; and nephews, Alan, Tyler, Joseph, Jonathan, Michael and Christopher.

The family would like to  thank the hospice team, and  all  the many  people who came to visit, to stay  nights with Bruce, provided  respite and sent prayers, cards and good  wishes.

Bishop Raymond Burke will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at the Cathedral of St. Joseph the Workman. Concelebrants will be the Rev. Robert Hundt, the Rev. Michael Gorman  and several other priests of the diocese of La Crosse.

Visitation will be at the Cathedral from 4 to 8'p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, and from 9 a.m. until the time of services Thursday. A prayer service will be held during
the Wednesday visitation at 7:30 p.m. In keeping with Bruce's wishes, he will be cremated after the funeral, with burial at a later time.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are requested  to Boy Scouts of America; Girl Scouts USA; Boys & Girls Club of Greater La Crosse; or the Staples Family Fund of  the La Crosse Community Foundation.

Dickinson Family Funeral Ho me is assisting the family with arrangements..
My friend Bruce

Big hearted

Always a friend

by John H. Leisgang
Bruce receiving an award from Bishop Burke in 1996
for Bishop Burke's Eulogy and other tributes and pictures.