SIKESTON -- Dr. and Mrs. Leo Bruce will celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary today.
Bruce and the former Dorotha Russell were married on a hot day Aug. 26, 1940, in Charleston, at the home of the Rev. A.B. Cooper. The couple were married less than a week before Dr. Bruce began a premedical program at Southeast Missouri State University.
Dr. Bruce was born in Cairo, Ill., in 1916; Mrs. Bruce was born in East Prairie a year later. They share both the urban and agricultural traditions of Southeast Missouri. Before beginning his medical studies, Dr. Bruce worked many jobs in Charleston and Cape Girardeau during the Depression to put together the means of realizing his dream of going to medical school. Mrs. Bruce worked in the Brown Shoe Factory in Sikeston to help put her husband through his early medical school years.
The couple began their family in Bertrand with the birth of Brenda Bruce (now Fountain), a concert pianist and harpsichordist living in Raleigh, N.C. At that time, World War II had already begun in Europe and China, and 16 months later the United States would be in it, too.
In March 1943, the future Dr. Bruce and his wife moved to Columbia so he could attend the two-year medical school then in existence. He ended up in an accelerated program at the University of Tennessee School of Medicine in Memphis, Tenn., where he graduated in 1946. He immediately went into the Air Force, serving at Lowry Field in Colorado. Then at Fitzsimmons Hospital in Aurora, Colo., the couple welcomed their second daughter, Mary Anne Bruce (now Williams), a retired teacher in Frederick, Md.
The couple's third daughter, Emily Bruce (now Watson), a retired teacher and current educational consultant in Sikeston, was born in 1951, shortly after they moved back to Sikeston, where Dr. Bruce -- now a retired United States Air Force colonel -- set up his practice in the Stallcup Building in the heart of the downtown area. A few years later, the family moved from Helen Street into their new home at 907 Taylor St. -- where they have lived ever since.
The Bruces have been pillars of the community ever since. Dr. Bruce still attends his practice of medicine (eye, ear, nose and throat) at the Medical Arts Building, despite suffering a broken hip on July 2. Dr. Bruce will turn 91 on Sept. 5. He has already returned to work from his convalescence, doing a complete eye examination of his 63-year-old son-in--law, who said he came out from North Carolina to take advantage of his father-in-law's expertise. Dr. Bruce views his service in the founding and development of Sikeston's Missouri Delta Medical center and his membership on many boards and civic clubs in Sikeston as sources of pride in addition to his work as a physician. After many years of dedication and service to Sikeston through the Methodist Church and various auxiliaries, Mrs. Bruce, who will celebrate her 90th birthday on Sept. 19, spends her time at home.