R. Bruce MacGregor, 83, of Port Charlotte, Florida, father of Grand Island resident Mary Jane Fonte, died peacefully July 18, 2015, at Tidewell Hospice House following a massive heart attack and stroke. He was preparing to conduct a choir of veterans in his full dress blues this past July 4 when he fell ill. A man who began each day with "This is the day the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" and retired each evening with "Et in terra pax hominibus," Bruce fought hard to overcome his battle surrounded by his family and friends, as well as caring Fawcett and Tidewell staff.
Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, May 3, 1932, he was an accomplished musician from a very young age, performing vocally all over the city as a boy soprano under the teaching of his mother, Peg, and the support of his father, Raymond, after whom he was named. Bruce married his childhood friend, Caroline Hussing, also of Scranton, whom he began dating while they both were students at Syracuse University and members of Delta Upsilon Fraternity and Chi Omega Sorority. They were married for 60 years and continued to be avid SU alumni, following football, basketball and lacrosse religiously and "bleeding" Orange. He received his master's degree at Ithaca College, future home of his sailboat for years.
Bruce proudly served his country in the U.S. Marine Corps during the Korean War, stationed at Parris Island, South Carolina, where he brought patriotism and pride to the troops as vocalist and member of the Marine Corps Band. He began directing music as a Syracuse University student and has brought a love that only well-prepared choral music can bring to performers and audiences alike. Many years of dedication and perfectionism were spent at the First United Methodist Church of Endicott, the Clef Club, IBM Glee Club and the Broome Community (N.Y.) College Choir to name a few. The Triple Cities Welsh Chorale (of Binghamton) and the Charlotte Chorale (of Charlotte County, Florida) are two performing groups that Bruce both established and directed. He received the Arts and Humanities Council of Charlotte County's Charlie Award for Artistic Achievement in 2010. "Mac", a nickname by which he was fondly referred, is still remembered by North High School (Binghamton), Maine Endwell High School and Ithaca High School, where he taught vocal music, as well as Broome Community College, where he served as student activities director for 27 years. He fondly remembered bringing in acts like Alex Haley, Gordon Liddy, Buddy Rich, Doc Severinsen and Jim Palmer, and directing in historic venues like Williamsburg Brutten Parish Church and Avery Fischer Hall to enrich the cultural experiences of his students.
Bruce grew up living out the Boy Scout Law, achieving the rank of Eagle Scout and honor of Order of the Arrow, of which he remained extremely proud. He served Scouting both in Binghamton and Port Charlotte as a leader and served as a motivation for his two granddaughters to achieve their Girl Scout Gold Awards.
When he didn't have his baton in hand at his music stand, Bruce held tightly to the rudder and sheets of his numerous sailboats, with First Mate Caroline at his side. Cherished vacation spots included Cape Cod, Cayuga Finger Lake, The Rideau Waterway of Canada, New York Harbor and Lake Ontario. "Heaven on Earth" to Bruce, however, was the St. Lawrence River, where he and his wife shared their last decades of summers, and where his presence will always be felt.
He couldn't be prouder of his three children/their spouses, Douglas of Fort Myers, Florida, Timothy (Meg) of Woodbridge, Virginia, and Mary Jane (Michael) of Grand Island. He found great satisfaction teaching camping skills to his five grandchildren, whom he dearly loved: Andrew, Robert, Thomas, Lauren and Katherine. Bruce's favorite quote, "It doesn't get any better!" sums up the rich life he lived, gave to others and reminisced about just a few days prior to his passing.
In lieu flowers, please consider a donation to his life's focus: The Boy Scouts of America, The Broome Community College (SUNY Broome) Foundation and the Charlotte Chorale. Those interested in attending a fall memorial service should contact the family.