Most folks will remember a tall, white-bearded man exploring Bozeman, carrying his metal detector and selling rummage in order to fund Habitat-for-Humanity homes. A friend to many, Bruce Winston Brock, 88, died Sunday, surrounded by his family.
Born October 1, 1929, in Sheridan, WY, to George and Esther Newcomer Brock, Bruce spent his childhood on the family ranch near Ashland, MT. He attended Willow Crossing Country School via a 3-mile horseback ride both ways; he later stayed in Sheridan with grandparents to attend high school. School vacations were spent doing chores on the ranch, but Bruce enjoyed bird watching and hunting for critters, arrowheads, and artifacts as time allowed. Too tall for the Air Force, he joined the US Army Airborne late in the Korean Conflict; as a paratrooper, he took every opportunity for extra jumps. Shortly after his discharge, he met Mardella Bieber, a teacher at the Montana Children's Center in Twin Bridges.
Bruce and Mardella were married May 27, 1957, at her parent's farm near Townsend, MT, shortly after they had purchased the Livingston Dairy Queen, which shortened their honeymoon. They brought two sons, Neil and Paul, and a daughter, Carol, into the world, and spent 6 years learning the ice cream likes and dislikes of everyone in town. They sold the business in hopes of a better family life and Bruce pursued sheet metal work before a new concept for a rental equipment company, A to Z Rental Equipment in Livingston, which he later combined with the Bozeman company, going independent as the first ABC Rental. After almost 10 years, he pursued a variety of odd jobs and small businesses, ending with 20 years assembling tools at King Tool. Bruce retired at age 80; his work as well as his time in the Army contributed to some spinal problems throughout the years, but this didn't stop Bruce from riding snowmobiles and 4-wheelers until age 87.
Having some of the earliest rental snowmobiles, Bruce introduced his family to his love of snowmobiling and exploring the outdoors. Family activities, including camping, hunting, fishing, skiing, school projects and community affairs, were so important to Bruce. His children learned to love the outdoors as much as Bruce.
He became the reunion photographer for Mardella's large family; though his family was smaller, it blended two relationships with deep American roots. His maternal "great" was a patriot in the American Revolution while a paternal ancestor signed the Declaration of Independence. While others did the genealogical research, Bruce arranged the family history for his family to appreciate. Preceding him in death are his parents, George and Esther Brock, and his brother, George Brock, Jr.
He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mardella Brock (Bieber); brother, Stephen; sons, Neil Brock (Annett), Paul Brock (Shereen); daughter, Carol Berg (Larry); grandchildren, Brandee Brock Hay (Sean), Randon Brock, and Jacob Berg; as well as numerous cousins, nieces, and nephews.
Bruce has touched so many lives, from young people in the community to his lifelong family and friends; we are thankful to the many folks who have touched our lives in return. There were no strangers.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 2nd at the Bozeman United Methodist Church at 11 a.m. Private family gravesides services will be held at Fort Harrison at a later date.
Should friends desire, memorials may be made in Bruce’s name to Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley, 230 Arden Dr., Belgrade, MT 59714; Gallatin Historical Society, 317 W. Main, Bozeman, MT 59715 or to a charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service. www.dokkennelson.com