If one was to ask students, graduates and teachers from Strathmore High School about Bruce Thompson, only good memories would come to mind. Every recollection of Bruce, the SHS bus driver of nearly a decade, shares the common remembrance of an incredibly giving, kind and reliable man.
Bruce Thompson battled in the horrendous fight against cancer and passed away at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Nov. 17 at the age of 78. Friends and family celebrated his life on Bruce’s birthday, Nov. 24 at the Royal Canadian Legion Hall, Strathmore Branch #10. In Bruce’s honour, teachers from SHS rode together to the funeral in a yellow school bus.
“Bruce was a very good Legion member and the service on Friday was very fitting. It really was who Bruce was, and the family and Legion did a wonderful job; the memorial was excellent. It was a really good tribute to Bruce,” said Kyle Larson, SHS associate principal and Boys Junior Varsity and Senior basketball coach.
Both Larson and Thompson began working for the school around 2000, and over the years became quite close and good friends. Unlike a route driver, Thompson mainly drove the bus for the school’s extracurricular needs, including many JV games and field trips.
Recent SHS graduate Denver Roy described Bruce to be “more reliable than the coaches,” and in particular, remembered a JV basketball game where the coaches had been late and the team was in desperate need to find someone who could sit in as coach, or else the team would have to forfeit the game.
“I went back out to the bus where Bruce was and asked if he would sit in, and old Bruce comes in and he starts telling us what to do and how to play basketball when he’s never seen us play the game before. I asked Bruce if he would sit down and watch and he listened, we won the game and coach showed up at half time. It was awesome,” said Roy.
Roy remembered Bruce to be a very sociable man and someone that always showed an interest in how the kids were doing. It was never out of place for the kids to go and talk to the bus driver, and Bruce would often join in on team suppers.
Both Roy and Larson remembered Thompson for his incredible patience with the kids and how he was so, “accommodating and understanding of youth,” as Larson explained.
“You know kids are kids, they’re rowdy, and that never seemed to bother Bruce, he accepted the kids for who the kids were and he was never judgemental,” said Larson.
Along with his kind spirit, Larson could not emphasize enough how reliable Bruce was; there was never a question of the bus not being up to date, from paperwork to tires.
“He didn’t just drive the bus. 100% you could count on him, if he told you he could drive, you never worried if he could be there, he maintained the bus, he looked after it and made sure it was 100% ready to go all the time. He was more than just a driver for sure,” said Larson.
Bruce Thompson will be greatly missed by the large number of people he has impacted and will be remembered for the kind and generous man he was.
SHS “couldn’t have found a nicer man,” said Larson.