Robert A. Bruce
Robert A. Bruce, 89, departed this life on Friday, Feb. 1, 2019. Bob was born in Red Oak, Iowa, to Clarence and Helen Chipps Bruce. He grew up among a wide circle of family and friends in southwest Iowa. After graduating from East Union High School in Afton, Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served honorably in the Korean War. There he was assigned to a role in the radio communications that aided military planes taking off from and landing on his aircraft carrier, Bob became entranced by electronics. With the help of the GI Bill, he went on to earn a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Iowa State University.
Bob began his work with computer technology at a time when a single mainframe computer occupied an entire room. Upon finishing his undergraduate degree in 1956, he took a position as electrical engineer in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at what was then known as Collins Radio Company, helping to develop the technology that provided communications for the United States' role in the space race. In 1968, Bob was one of the founding principals of Norand Corporation in Cedar Rapids, recognized for its pioneering role in developing handheld data collection technology and the bar code system now ubiquitous around the world. In 1980, Bob moved his family to southern California and took a job with Hughes Aircraft. His work there contributed to the development of U.S. defense systems and the International Space Station. He retired in 1989.
Anyone who knew Bob Bruce knew what a singular personality and intellect he was. He reveled in the divinity of details, yet he marveled at the beautiful complexity of the big picture. He was punctual and he thrived on order and routine. His many interests ranged from international diplomacy and economics to artificial intelligence to the historical Jesus, to name a few. Bob had an insatiable appetite for knowledge and immersed himself fully in detailed research on every topic that captured his attention. Bob was most content in nature and took every opportunity to walk or to sit outside and ponder life and his place in it. He was soft-hearted, funny, kind and devoted to the people he loved.
Bob was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Verna; and his parents.
He is survived by his children, Nancy Bruce, Blake (Susan) Bruce, Lisa Wahl and Robin Bruce; siblings, Betty Ann Blair, Chuck Bruce and Marilyn Lacina; grandchildren, Emily Comisar, Alex Comisar, Noah Comisar, Thomas Bruce, Sarah Bruce, Andrew Wahl, Alyssa Tebbitt, Moira Wahl, Shayna Gilmore, Kylie Garrett and Andrea Espitia; and four great-grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made in memory of Dr. Robert A. Bruce to the Iowa State University Electrical and Computer Engineering Fellowship Fund (2700978), which provides assistance to graduate students whose academic work and research depend upon this important financial support. Please contact the ISU Foundation at (515)294-9960.