As I was browsing the internet, looking for definitions and descriptions of what would make someone a Local Hero, several defining characteristics came to the forefront. The first was someone who provides a positive influence on the people they encounter. The second trait was a desire to lend a helping hand to the community they call home. In both cases, interacting with a Local Hero left the community and its people better off.
I was blessed to have a number ofpositive male role models as I was growing up. This includes several teachers, coaches, and perhaps more in a more subtle way, the fathers of some of my childhood friends. There is nobody who fits the definition of a role model and a local hero more than Bruce Redmon.
I first met Bruce when I was six years old. His son, Keith, and I were in kindergarten together. I am lucky that more than 50 years later, I am still able to call Keith a friend. Bruce, and his wife, Lou-Ann, who I have affectionately called Mom for the last 50 years, owned the local funeral home, which they opened in 1968. When Keith invited me and some other friends to spend the night at his home, it was literally above the Redmon Funeral Home. As a school-aged child, it was always interesting to stay up past midnight, watching whatever scary movie Houlihan & Big Chuck were playing, knowing there was a funeral home just below where you were trying to sleep.
Bruce was known for his community leadership and service. He was a great family man and a gentleman. Over the following decades, Bruce built a respected and profitable business. He was also looked to as a civic leader of character and integrity. For those of you who would like to read more about all Bruce did and accomplished, I am including a link below to his obituary, as well as a link to an article that appeared in both the Stow Sentry and Akron Beacon Journal newspapers.
Unfortunately, Bruce passed away after a very brief illness on November 1st, a few weeks after celebrating his 82nd birthday, and just a few days before his and Mom’s 61st wedding anniversary. This is a huge loss to everyone who knew him and to the Stow community at large.
I had seen and talked with Bruce several times in the last few months before his diagnosis. He was healthy and in good spirits. He had won his golf league in September. He and Mom had also recently taken a trip to South Carolina and Georgia to visit with family.
During a recent conversation, I reminded Bruce that when I was still in elementary school, he used to pay me and Keith $.25 an hour to sweep the parking lot before funerals. He immediately reminded me that back in the day, that was good money. I have fond memories of playing third base for the Redmon Funeral Home Pirates in third and fourth grade. A picture of the team is included below (see if you can find your financial planner in it).
Most of all, Bruce lived a faith-based and congruent life. Whether you saw Bruce at the funeral home, in the community, on the golf course, at church, or in the grocery store, he was always the same. What you saw was what you got.
Keith and his older brother Kevin wrote a tribute to their dad entitled “One Bruce”. It is touching and included below. I don’t think there is anything more that I can add or say beyond this.
The Bruce Redmon known for 54 years as a funeral director to both the families he served as well as the community at large, was the very same Bruce Redmon we knew as a dad. We never knew a career Bruce and a family Bruce, …… we only knew “one Bruce”
Without question, there are some disadvantages of growing up with a dad as a funeral director in a funeral home, but there are countless advantages. One of the greatest was that dad was home a lot. Even when working, we were often nearby. He didn’t have to leave our home to go to the office every day, he didn’t have to take business trips, and he never complained about bosses. At home or at work…….we only knew “one Bruce”.
Because he was with us so much growing up, we most likely knew him more deeply than many other kids know their dads. We saw him in difficult times, easy times, joyous times, and certainly difficult and tragic times. Dad was the same in all those times……… and we only knew “one Bruce”.
While dad was missing many of our high school and college games due to the funeral home, at the time we didn’t realize what he was teaching us in his absence. We learned about honor, dependability, reliability, caring, honesty, fulfilling your promises and your calling. We knew rules and boundaries, and if you made a commitment to a coach, teammates and schools to play and play hard, you were going to keep that commitment until the season ended. No questions. Dad was the same at work or at play…….. we only knew “one Bruce”.
Bruce was exactly the same as a dad as he was a funeral director. The very same characteristics that made him a great funeral director made him a great dad.
You….and we……only knew “one Bruce”.
In more than a dozen years of writing these weekly blog posts, this is now the sixth that I have written as a tribute to someone I consider to be a Local Hero. The bar is high to be considered and included in that very small group. Bruce certainly deserves to be there. He was a shining light in this community and a good friend and mentor for more than 50 years. I will miss him greatly, but I could think of no better tribute than to share his story with you.
Pastor Joe Coffey, of Christ Community Chapel in Hudson, noted during Bruce’s funeral, that after five decades of standing in the back of more than 8,000 funerals, providing peace and comfort to families who were grieving, Bruce was now at the front of this funeral. It is certainly where he deserves to be and how he deserves to be remembered.
It is important that we honor the people who make such an impact in our lives in a community as we continue “Moving Life Forward”.
© 2022 Jesse Hurst