When I purchased my home the first person I met when I got out of the moving truck was my neighbor Bruce Sawyer. He lived in the corner house and every day like clockwork we’d exchange waves as I came home from work or returned from walking my dog, Spike.
A year ago his daughter Erin gave him a little brown Dachshund. “She said it was to keep me company, I don’t need no company,” he proclaimed as he gently guided the dog to his front stoop.
When we simultaneously had sewer issues, I called the city and asked for flushing and every other service that was available. While I sat waiting for the city crew to arrive, I saw Bruce with a shovel excavating his sewer line, “I’ll do it myself,” he said.
“I’ll do it myself” seemed to be his response to most issues, I never heard him complain or ask for help. But as his nephew told me, “If you were going to paint your house or do some work that needed help, Bruce was the first one there.”
Last week when someone was parked in front of my house while I wasn’t home, Bruce walked up to the car and asked, “Are you looking for somebody?” The occupant of the car was waiting for me; when I arrived I was told of the incident. Instead of being greeted with a “hello,” the first thing out of his mouth was, “Your neighbor quizzed me?!”
I recalled the summers when the distinct sound of horseshoes clanging on a hot afternoon came from Bruce’s sister Kristine house, which is next door to her brother. Bruce, Kristine her son Kevin and their guests were the sound and culture of our little street. This was one of those rare occasions, a neighborhood where you knew your neighbors.
We were all saddened when Bruce’s sister Kristine died of cancer, the street never really recovered. So, it was an absolute shock when we learned last Tuesday morning that on his way home from work Bruce’s 2000 Dodge Neon suddenly went off the road and came to a stop in a ravine off Route 690. Bruce Sawyer died suffering a massive heart attack while driving home from work, “they sent him home because he didn’t look well,” a nephew intoned, “you leave home going to work you expect to come home.”
With both Kristine and Bruce gone, the street is missing that gentle wave, the smiles.
Bruce’s legacy is in his children, a son Jeremy serving our country stationed in Japan and a daughter Erin who just gave birth to his grandchild. In addition to all of the above, he was just a good guy who looked out for everybody sometimes at the exclusion of taking care of himself.
As I previously mentioned when he quizzed a visitor who was parked at my house I made a mental note to thank him. My regret is that I never got a chance to.
Thank you Bruce, you are already sorely missed by Rann Ave.