Bruce Elliott Reynolds of Rhinelander (Stella Township) passed away Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, at age 66. The son of Al A. and Lois Elliott Reynolds, Bruce was born on March 31, 1950 in Oak Park, Ill. He grew up in Marshfield, where his dad was manager of the local Sears Roebuck store. He graduated with a degree in English from UW-Madison, and earned his law degree from Valparaiso School of Law, Indiana. Bruce met his future wife, Louise while working as a Guardian Ad Litem in New Hampshire, and practiced in government service there for 15 years.
As assistant county prosecutor in Cheshire County, Keene N.H., Bruce was the first lawyer in the United States to use the newly-passed U.S. hate-crime law to convict a defendant in a case of domestic violence – successfully identifying the defendant as a misogynist (a person who dislikes, despises or is strongly prejudiced against women). Another successful conviction of significance was that of Father Gordon McRae, one of the first Catholic priests in New England charged with sexual abuse of young boys. McRae was sentenced to 63 years in prison – where he remains to this day. After his return to Wisconsin in 2001, Bruce held positions in legal departments for Oneida County, the Forest County Potawatomi Community and most recently the Ho-Chunk tribe of Black River Falls, where he worked until just weeks before his passing.
Bruce was a Mason and past master of Altemont Lodge in Peterborough N.H. He had many loves and passions – the English language, history, politics, and Christmas; classical, early rock & roll and 1960’s protest music; the humor of Victor Borge and the singing voice of Lucciano Pavarotti. He was a scholar, an avid and voracious reader. He enjoyed cooking, the occasional cigar and a single malt. But his greatest love was for his wife, and sitting with her by the lake at their home, with a bottle of good wine, listening to owls and loons; watching the sun set and eagles soar.
Bruce loved many outdoor activities – hiking, climbing, camping, canoeing; he was an advocate for conservation and was greatly influenced at an early age by the works of Aldo Leopold and Rachel Carson. But his greatest passion of all was skiing. Bruce learned to ski as a young boy at Rib Mountain in Wausau; in his youth spent many weekends traveling north to ski hills in the U.P. Bruce knew all there was to know about many topics, including the history of skiing in the U.S., from its roots with the WWII 10th Mountain Division to its later beginnings in the Midwest. Bruce was an expert skier and PSIA Level 3 Ski Instructor; locations where he taught include Copper Mountain in the Rockies, and most recently Norway Mountain, U.P., Mich., where, despite the onset of his illness and following surgery for removal of a brain tumor, he was an instructor for adults and children throughout winter season 2015-16.
Bruce’s life was lived on stage – he was an actor in his youth, from early roles including Shakespeare plays in London to his portrayal of Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls with the Marshfield Players. In later years Bruce’s “stage” was the courtroom where, as a prosecutor he used his mastery of language and ability to make his voice heard to convince the vast majority of juries to convict. His many “platforms” all revolved around his compassion for others – he used his work, influence and abilities to improve the lives of others, especially for the underprivileged and underserved, for women and for children.
Bruce’s family considers it fitting that donations in his memory be made to ArtStart, P. O. Box 896 Rhinelander WI, 54501-0896 and designated for the construction of an outdoor stage for performance arts. ArtStart serves as a center for the arts and culture, education and community, all of which were passions embraced by Bruce. Your memorial donation to ArtStart in Bruce’s memory supports his belief that one should always leave a place in a better condition than it was when entered, just for having been there.
Bruce leaves the 30-year love of his life, Louise Madeleine Perreault of Rhinelander/Manchester N.H.; his sister, Nan (Ed) Reynolds Nielsen of Denver, Colo.; his nephews, Eric Reynolds Nielsen of Seattle Wash., and Leif Elliott Nielsen of Denver, Colo.; nephew Charles-Henri (Melissa) Perreault Sr., and his dear great-niece and nephew Victoria-Francesca Perreault and Charles-Henri Perreault, Jr., of Bedford N.H.
Bruce Elliott Reynolds also leaves behind a legacy of compassion for and support of his fellow man, having touched the lives of countless others through his work, passions and friendships. He will be greatly missed by all, but remains forever with us through his inspiration and our many memories. LMP 2/19/17