Share a special moment from Bruce's life.

Places Bruce & Geri Adventures

Shared by Kyle Shenk on January 20, 2020
Their Adventures:
All 50 States
France - Paris, 
5x Italy (Rome, Florence, 
Germany - Munich, 
Denmark - Copenhagen
UK - England, Scotland, 
Prague, Czech
Belgium - Brussels
Netherlands - Amsterdam
Canada - Nova Scotia, Quebec, Vancouver, 

    4x Cabo San Lucas
    Play del Carmen
    Puerto Vallarta

    St. Lucia
    The Bahamas
    Antigua & Barbuda
    Cayman Islands
    British Virgin
    3x Puerto Rico
    St. Maarten
    St. Thomas
    St. Johns
    St. Cruix
    Virgin Gorda

Quinnipiac girls remember Bruce

Shared by Taryn Lenahan on February 27, 2020
Memories from my beautiful friends
Shared by Dawn Barrett on January 9, 2020
I came to Caldwell in September of 1965 as a 21 year old first year teacher. I was terrified.  Bruce was the first person i ran into. He could see how nervous I was so we sat by the planter and talked. Within minutes he had me laughing and at ease. That was one of Bruce's great talents. He was sincere and genuinely concerned about people.His laughter was joyful and genuine as was his concern for others. When I think of Bruce I always smile. Thank you Bruce.

A family built for others

Shared by Jeff Rainess on November 28, 2019
Don’t be sorry—be sad, but don’t ever be sorry.

I am not the smartest guy, but I’ve learned a thing or two over the years. Listening is how you learn.

When I began college, I was lucky enough to meet the Shenk family. Kyle was one of the 1st people I met and he is still my dearest friend to this day. I remember his Mom and Dad coming up to get him settled in and helped him set up his room, etc. There is a great story about that initial meeting with the Shenk's, a little embarrassing to tell now to be honest, but it’s the truth.

The Shenk's took Kyle down to the bookstore just prior to classes starting.If you buy used books, there is a big discount, so they wanted to make sure he took advantage of that. I tagged along.The Shenk's get to the register with all their supplies and ask me why I don’t have anything and how important it was to make sure to get the discount.I made some comment like ‘ah, whatever, I will take care of it later’, and I remember Mr. and Mrs. Shenk looking at each other quite disapprovingly.

Flash forward a few years, they had welcomed me into their home(s) hundreds of times. I spent more time at their house than I did my own. It was the first time I had ever seen a functional family dynamic, and they made me feel welcomed—doesn’t seem like much, but I can’t tell you how much that impacted me. Breaks and summers were spent at their house. I ate their delicious food and I drank a lot of Brucey’s beer, but most of all, I sat with them and I listened as much as I could because I knew I was onto something good.

So years later, at a party or wedding, they fessed up to me. The bookstore incident had really bothered them. They were NOT very happy that Kyle had made friends with someone that seemed so unorganized and unmotivated. It was obvious I was a little rough around the edges and the bookstore incident had really made them question how smart I was. They also told me how proud they were of the things I had done since then to improve myself, and they smiled and smirked and told me honestly how worried they had been that Kyle was hanging out with the wrong crowd way back when. 

I will never forget their reaction when I told them I didn’t buy the books that day because I had no money. I had gone back later that day and stole everything. They laughed and cried at the same time and they hugged me and told me how much they loved me.  The moral of the story here is that they had accepted me, when not many people did, even with all my faults -- and what a huge impact that has had on my life. 

So I told them I had to come clean with them too. I thanked them 100x over for allowing me into their home. I tried to explain that I didn’t grow up like that—that’s not how my family operated. That their marriage showed me what a family was and what an impact that had on me. We laughed and cried some more. 

I want to say from that day on, but truthfully it was before that—they made me feel like I was a part of their family. They were at my wedding, they were at baptisms and communions and confirmations.Birthday parties, BBQ’s and holidays – I loved them and it was important for them to be around my wife and my kids, because this is what a family is supposed to look like.

All this while, just during regular conversation, they would ask me how I was doing with work, etc. and I would always tell them – someday, you mark my words, someday I am going to go do what I was meant to do. They both used to ask me … almost tell me ,throughout the years that I’d better hurry up doing it because money doesn’t matter that much and life is too short. It should come as no surprise that I could hear their voices in my head throughout the process of plotting my career change. 

And of course, guess who was there when I got sworn in as a Head football coach? Bruce and Geri. Guess who was always at my games--sometimes even practices? I was lucky enough to win a big award last year and Bruce and Geri drove all the way down to Toms River to celebrate with me, even though she was very sick. I included that picture because I am so proud of it. It meant the world to me to have them there. 

And all this time, Bruce was my sounding board for everything. I would call him and sometimes he would even call me. I would try to grab him for a quick talk at the beach or at Kyle and Danielle's house. Everyone tells me what a great guidance counselor he was and I certainly believe that—he certainly worked wonders with me. Problems with kids, marriage, work, football—even my own issues with my own family and my own depression—Bruce was my go to guy for a very long time. He was a great listener too. I am going to miss that terribly.

But, no -- I am not going to be sorry.

Both Bruce and Geri and the extended Shenk family (Kyle, T, Dani, Mike) have changed my life immeasurably.That family showed me it was OK to talk to one another, laugh with one another and support one another. They showed me it’s OK to bust chops, but it’s more important to show kindness. Mrs. Shenk showed me the value of a clean and organized closet and the power of the matriarch in the family :) . Mr. Shenk showed me what it means to be a quiet leader and lead a life built for others. Ultimately, they showed me what family is. 

I read somewhere once that your legacy is really built around the lives that you have changed. I watched this manifest itself over the past few months with the outpouring of love and prayers for Bruce and Geri from all facets of their life. It was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, but it made me appreciate the fact I had them in my life for as long as I did. They are the definition of a life well spent. 

I am not sorry.
I am forever grateful and so thankful for the time I had with them.

Jeff Rainess

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