Peter Alger, Bruce’s son, read this at his father’s memorial service, held last Thursday:
My dad always liked to say, “Giving a talk in church is liking throwing up. We feel kind of crappy before it happens, you feel crappy while it’s happening, but you feel fantastic once you’re done.” Something tells me that I still won’t feel fantastic after this.
We were talking the other night and my mom said, “Bruce’s dad lived to be 79-years-old. His grandma lived to be 99. He thought he had longevity in his blood. He was sure I would die first. No one is more surprised than he his that he went first.”
For those of you who even remotely knew Bruce, knew that his thing was jokes and stories. He loved each the same way: often and more than once. …My mother sent my father’s life story to me and I spent the day reading it, not really expecting anything new because he liked to tell stories. But, I had to laugh/cry to myself when I read that he started his memoirs with the best jokes he had or Bruce’s Greatest Hits. He starts it off like this:
“Now, if you’ve heard this story before, please don’t interrupt me, I’d like to hear it again myself. I was born at a very young age, therefore, I started out as a child. I was so surprised by the whole birth process when I was born that I didn’t talk for a year.”
Bruce Alger was born on October 24, 1947, in Redding, CA.
My grandpa was born in the church but was not raised as an active member, so my dad was not actually baptized a member of the church until he was 10-years-old. He loved to boast that he was a convert who also had rich pioneer heritage. Dad moved around a lot as a child, attending two elementary schools, two middle schools, and three high schools. Fortunately for all of us, they finally settled in San Jose, CA where he met Sandra Louise Busath. He frequently referrers to her as “the tall, red-headed beehive” or “the tall, red-headed Busath who says four years isn’t that big of an age difference.” It’s always weird to hear stories about my mom being so enamored by my dad and how she was so eager to date him because if you ever asked my dad he would always say that she was out of his league and that he had definitely married up.
Before they got married, my dad joined the Navy in April of 1966 and spent four years stationed on the USS Mansfield during Vietnam. Being stationed in Yokosuka Japan, and with the Mansfield being a destroyer, they spent a lot of their time on the “Gunline” providing artillery support for the ground troops. My dad’s official job in the Navy was a radar man, but because of his dependability, and I’d to think his magnetic charm, which I hear is hereditary, he was given many side jobs by the chief officers that allowed him special privileges and earned him favor on the ship. After a brief station in Long Beach and an even briefer return to the South Pacific, Dad came home from the Navy and went on a mission.
He served in the England, North British Mission, which he would later refer to as the Manchester-Leeds mission.
He came home and married Sandy on June 9, 1973.
He was a man of many hobbies, loves, and interests. Many knew him as a scouter, a train lover, a leather worker, a fisher, a camper, a hiker, a movie watcher, a popcorn ingester, the list goes on. Above all of those things, and I think the reason he was so great at some of those was that he was a people person. People who were around him were happy because he was happy. And because he was a happy, people person, he had happy kids who loved him. He was a professional scouter, a professional leather master, a professional snowmobiler, and a professional model railroader.
Not many of my dad’s hobbies rubbed off on me. I think the only two we had in common were movies and football. We both liked to read, but the only overlap was Lord of the Rings. My dad got me to love Lord of the Rings at a very young age. We saw all six of the Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit movies in the theater together and I will always think of him when I watch them now.
My favorite past time with my dad was watching football together. We’re both very big fans of the San Francisco 49ers. During the Harbaugh era, I frequently got accused of being a bandwagon fan. I would promptly let those people know that I’ve been a fan my whole life and that My dad had even been to a game in Kezar Stadium before they even played at Candlestick. We’ve also proved our loyalty these past couple years as we’ve continued to support them. In fact, we just watched this last week’s game. We sat in his living room watched and laughed together and the last play he ever saw by the red and gold was a touchdown. Those have been rare the past couple of years.
When it was announced that the Niners would be getting a new stadium in Santa Clara, we decided that we wanted to be at the last game in Candlestick. We bought tickets to the Atlanta Falcons vs San Francisco 49ers on December 23, 2013. A group of us drove out to San Francisco, at crab legs at Alioto’s and went to the game. That game was intense. We were already in the playoffs but we were hoping for a better seed to get home field advantage so we needed a win. We were in the lead for most of the game, but the Falcon’s offense was starting to make a comeback. They had marched down the field and scored a touchdown very easily. The Falcon’s recovered an onside kick and were marching down the field again, wasting clock and it was looking like they were going to get another touchdown with no time for us to respond, putting them in the lead. Matt Ryan threw a short, quick pass just 10-yards in front of him for the win, but Navarro Bowman stepped up and intercepted the pass, ran it back 89 yards and scored a defensive touchdown. My dad and I were on opposite sides of the group, the little Mexican guy I was next to and I hugged each and jumped up and down with joy. My dad had recorded that game on his DVR and I’m pretty sure we watched it weekly. Which is good because it probably got him through the following years. …We just sat in the car with windows down and blared Lights by Journey, a Niner post game tradition, as we waited for our turn to leave the parking lot. That song will always remind me of my dad. The Seahawks ended up winning the division that year and got home field advantage in the playoffs and our game was truly the last at Candlestick.
I read this entry last night and it instantly broke my heart, but it brought me right back because it showed that he knew what was important. He writes,
“I have not become a captain of industry, nor have a I made too much more than to get by on. I have not become a great church leader. I haven’t even become a minor church leader….in this terms, I have not made a major mark on this world. Sometimes I get to feeling bad about all of this and then someone comes along and says, “Hi, Dad. I love you!” I have the three most wonderful daughters and a great son. I believe that I had something…to do with how they turned out. I wouldn’t trade anyone of them for money or position either in or out of the church.”
I look at out on this gathering and I think of all the great comments that have been flooding in on my sisters’ Facebook posts and the people that have come by to visit my mother and he most certainty made a mark on this world, and it is a bigger mark than I think a person could ever hope to accomplish and one that fills me with so much pride at how great and loving a man he is.
His legacy is truly great. A couple of months ago he gave a lesson in our extended family home evening. He talked a lot about legacy and what he wanted his legacy to be. He said that he wanted his children and their children to know that he had a testimony of Jesus Christ. That he is our savior and that he died for our sins. That gospel has been restored and that through temple work, family can be together forever. I would like to add my testimony to his. The comfort of eternal families and the sealing power of the temple has been much needed for me this week.
I’m grateful for a Father in Heaven who provided a plan that means this mortal life is not the end. I can’t wait to see my dad again.
Author: Peter Alger | son of Bruce and Sandy Alger