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In Memoriam: Terry Bruns, 1946-2006


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Terry Bruns
Above: Terry Bruns, 1946-2006.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) marine scientist Terry R. Bruns died unexpectedly on September 24, 2006. Terry's research and management efforts on behalf of the Western Coastal and Marine Geology team span more than 30 years. He is perhaps best remembered for his affable smile and embracing, upbeat personality. He was ever eager to assist others, and he brought these traits to bear during some of the team's most trying periods. Characteristically, his duties were conducted with a steady hand at the helm.

Terry Bruns partook of the golden years of marine-geologic research in the USGS—the 1970s and 1980s—when the farthest flung corners of the Pacific Ocean were within our purview and science was all that we were about. What a wild ride it was back then, he often mused. Terry was brought aboard in response to the energy crunch of the 1970s, and he began his research career by evaluating the geology and petroleum potential of the Gulf of Alaska. Through repeated marine surveys, he found that, indeed, the seas there are dismayingly high and rough, but the oil potential is low. Terry also made early contributions to our understanding of the geology and petroleum potential of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, now a focus in the heated national controversy over energy production versus wilderness preservation. Aboard the Ocean Drilling Program's research vessel Resolution, Terry helped drill into the Fiji Basin and the Tonga island arc. These are a few highlights of a long research career that also included studies in California and the Pacific Northwest.

Terry served the team for 9 years (1996-2005) as Associate Team Chief Scientist, deftly handling such tasks as guiding the team's numerous office moves, crafting long-term space plans for the Santa Cruz office, and coordinating marine operations with the needs of scientists. As noted in one of his many award citations, Terry was "our rock" during his tenure, "providing continuity, wise guidance, occasional scolding, a willing ear, a noble spirit of camaraderie and selflessness, and behind-the-scenes...mastery to hold us together."

On October 3, 2006, at Zott's, a local beer garden, about 80 of Terry's friends and colleagues gathered in fond eulogy. Seemingly just for this occasion, a weeklong spell of somber, dismal weather moderated to dappled sunlight. More than a dozen speakers remembered Terry's impact on their lives. Most spoke warmly of his humanity and concern for others. A few noted his occasional fits of temper at obdurate bureaucracy. Some noted his love of book collecting and printing and his passion for the outdoors. His sudden, untimely death defies understanding, but his many friends will remember him with great fondness.

Excerpts from tributes to Terry (which will be posted, with additional memories and photographs, at URL http://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/staff/tbruns/):

"My teacher-mother used to explain to particularly disruptive kids that they could start right now being people who others are glad to see enter a room, or glad to see exit the room. In this life we can strive to be great geologists or whatever, but overall, are people generally glad to see us or not? We were always delighted to see Terry come in. We loved his e-mails, we loved his e-mailed corrections. We enjoyed wide-ranging conversations with him...from exercise to elderly parent care to Alaskan geology to coaching kids to collecting old books. We loved his sense of humor, and now feel the loss of a good and kind man from this world…."

—Chris Gutmacher & Andy Stevenson

"Terry's demise leaves a big hole in [the Western Coastal and Marine Geology Team], right in the heart. I will remember him as our Team mom. Always available, always caring—ready to provide perspective and the silver lining for any dark cloud. I truly believe he cared more about his colleagues and their personal welfare than anyone else I've known in the USGS. It is hard to say good-bye to such a friend—just don't feel like letting go."

—Sam Johnson

"I worked in the library for many years and whenever Terry came into the library he was always friendly and kind to everyone. I know that he was also very giving of his time. He participated in outreach in the schools and at the USGS open house. Terry's passing is a great loss for the USGS, as well as for his friends and family."

—Page Mosier

"At the completion of USGS Leadership classes, students are given a Leadership Coin and asked to pass it on to someone else at the USGS who demonstrates outstanding leadership.  I realized that Terry embodied all the best qualities of leadership and had seen our team through many transitions and difficult periods.  These coins are fairly rare;  I'd never seen or heard of them outside the class. However, when I presented Terry with the coin, he opened a drawer and added it to his growing collection of Leadership Coins!  I was just one of many who appreciated what a treasure he was...I'll miss his sense of humor, his open door, and his generous heart."

—Stephanie Ross

"A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit."

—Greek proverb, quoted by Terry at the bottom of each of his e-mail messages

Terry and Gretchen Luepke (Bynum) Terry at 2006 Open House
Above left: Terry (left) and Gretchen Luepke (Bynum) in the opening number of the 1976 USGS Pick and Hammer Show. Photograph courtesy of Gretchen. [larger version]

Above right: Terry gives away deep-sea basalt samples at the 2006 USGS Open House in Menlo Park, Calif. Photograph by Carolyn Degnan. [larger version]

Brian Edwards and Terry Terry and Jenna Stanley
Above left: Brian Edwards (left) and Terry clown around at the team holiday party, 2002. Photograph by Florence Wong. [larger version]

Above right: Terry and Jenna Stanley at "Landelsburg," an annual reenactment of a colonial village where Terry, a hobby printer, supervised a print shop (see related article in Sound Waves, May 2004). Photograph by Helen Gibbons, 2005. [larger version]

Terry Bruns Participants enjoy the aftermath of the 1978 Christmas Relays
Above left: Terry Bruns.

Above right: Participants enjoy the aftermath of the Christmas Relays at Lake Merced in San Francisco, Calif., 1978. Each member of a four-runner team completes a 4.5-mi lap around the lake. Les Magoon (far right) ran for the first time with Terry (second from left), who had invited him to round out a team. Photograph courtesy of Les, who ran many more races with Terry over the next 2 decades. [larger version]

Terry in the Western States Endurance Run Terry kayaking
Above left: Terry in the Western States Endurance Run, a 100-mi race in the Sierra Nevada. Writes Elissa Hirsh: "The goal is to complete the run in under 24 hours to get the belt buckle. They run all night...It was 1985. He got the buckle." Photograph by Warren Yeend. [larger version]

Above right: Terry loved kayaking down the Salmon River, Idaho, in August 2006. Photograph by Warren Yeend. [larger version]


Related Sound Waves Stories
Colonial Period Comes to Life (and Print!) with the Help of USGS Scientist Terry Bruns
May 2004

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Fieldwork
cover story:
Satellites Help Scientists Track Migratory Birds

Effects of Urbanization on Nearshore Ecosystems in Puget Sound

Studying the Elwha River in Preparation for Dam Removal

Sea-Floor Mapping Project Expands to South Shore and Cape Cod Bay

Outreach Earth Science Week Celebration in Menlo Park, CA

Google Maps View of Western Coastal and Marine Geology Projects

Meetings Community Forum on Red Tide

Benthic Sponge Taxonomy Course at Mote Marine Laboratory

Awards USGS Team Receives Service to America Medal

Staff In Memoriam: Terry Bruns, 1946-2006

Publications Release of DVD "Bedforms and Cross-Bedding in Animation"

Nov. / Dec. 2006 Publications List


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