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It’s amazing what a pair of dancing shoes can do. For Bruce Dropesky, the shoes allowed him to meet his wife of 56 years, Beatrice, during a dance in San Antonio, Texas. He also introduced his children, Elaine Hausman and Phillip Dropesky, to dance.
Hausman said her father loved to dance because of the “intellectual challenge as well as the physical (challenge) and you got to hold a lovely lady in your arms, which is probably the best part.”
Her mother and father took dance cruises and everyone in town, Hausman said, “Remembers my mom and dad on the dance floor.”
It was not just a pastime for Bruce, dancing was a source of inspiration. After breaking both his legs, Hausman said she and her father took a few spins around the living room only after a few months of recovering from his injuries.
“It’s what kept him going, the thought of being able to dance,” she said.
Other members of the family caught the dance fever. Hausman recently retired as the director of the Moving People dance company. Additionally, Hausman’s daughter is a professional dancer.
Dance was just one way Bruce impacted his family.
Hausman described her father as a Renaissance man.
She described him as an avid traveler, an intellectual and a boating enthusiast.
Her brother, Phillip echoed her thoughts.
“Mainly that he was a great scientist and researcher with an extremely inquisitive mind,” Phillip said.
So when Bruce died on Nov. 10 at the age of 85, a hole formed in the community. It’s an empty space that gets created when a good person is no longer around. Despite the emptiness, something is left behind — a remarkable life to be remembered and cherished.
From the beginning, Bruce led an extraordinary life. He was born April 29, 1924 in Philadelphia and grew up Edgewater, New Jersey.
Hausman said he grew up on a house boat on the Hudson River. The boat was originally a coal barge and although it was converted to a house, it had no electricity or running water.
He would study at night by kerosene lamps. When he was 12 years old, Bruce built a sailboat of his own, along with the help of adult family friend.
His achievements continued in high school. Bruce graduated valedictorian of his high school class. While some may think about college or beginning their careers when they graduate, Bruce’s speech was filled with thoughts of World War II.
He spoke about fulfilling a duty, fighting and dying for one’s country.
Bruce served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was stationed in England and worked on repairing radios on planes.
He and his wife and children moved to Los Alamos in 1953. Bruce worked at the national laboratory as a nuclear chemist.
Through his job, Bruce entertained visitors from China, India and other countries. He also traveled extensively, visiting 85 countries.
“He really, genuinely loved and cared about people,” Hausman said. “He wanted to know everything about everyone.”
She added, “He loved seeing new things, doing new things and meeting new people.”
Additionally, Bruce took two sabbaticals in 1964 and took his family to England, where he worked at the Laboratory in Harwell, England and in Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.
Phillip remembers teaming up with his father to travel from one destination to another. His father would drive and Phillip would navigate.
Bruce’s zest for life didn’t diminish in his later years. In fact, in 2006, he and Hausman traveled to India. In his 70s, Bruce was still water skiing.
This man’s values and interests rubbed off on his family.
“I think his emphasis on the importance of education had an impact on my life,” Hausman said.
Bruce also touched his community. He worked in the Betty Ehart Senior Center, selecting movies to show on Fridays, Phillip said. He added that his father was also president of the East Park Pool Association. Additionally, Bruce was a member of the American Chemical Society.
Los Alamos also impacted him. Phillip said, “He loved the professional atmosphere.”
He explained Bruce loved to attend lectures such as the Frontiers of Science and presentations at the Bradbury Science Museum.
“He was a big fan of the arts,” Phillip added. Bruce loved to attend music concerts, theater productions and ballet shows.
It seems fitting then, to mark Bruce’s death not with tears and anguish, but through dancing and music.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Dec. 5 at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church. It will be followed by lunch and a dance, as well as a music tribute at the Knights of Columbus building.
It seems to be an appropriate way to celebrate Bruce.
“My dad was the one of the kindest human beings I’ve ever met …. (a) great example to live up to,” Hausman said.
Phillip added he is a father himself and it isn’t easy trying to walk in the huge shoes Bruce left.
“He’s just a great role model in everything he did,” Phillip said.