He was born March 8, 1931, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to Earl and Mildred (Schindehette) Bruce. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by the love of his life, his wife of 56 years, Jean (French) Bruce; sisters Mary Lou Theis and Beverly Burkinshaw.
Earle was loved by so many, and will be dearly missed by his loving daughters, Lynn Bruce, Michele (Pat) Cenci, Aimee Bell, and Noel (Fred) Poulton; nine grandchildren, Zachary Smith, Colin Smith, Carter (Megan) Smith, Kiley Smith, August Bell, Tanner Bell, Kayden Bell, Hudson Poulton, and Foster Poulton; great grandchildren Cameron, Quinn, and Hayden Smith; brothers Ronald (Cheryl) Bruce, Robert (Jewel) Bruce, and Barry (Jane) Bruce; sister-in-law Nancy (John) Kissh; many nieces and nephews; special caregiver Jenny Whinham; and many good friends, former coaches, and players.
Coach Bruce served as an accomplished high school football coach for 13 years in Salem, Sandusky, and Massillon. He then served as the head coach at the University of Tampa (1972), Iowa State University (1973-1978), The Ohio State University (1979-1987), the University of Northern Iowa (1988), and Colorado State University (1989-1992).
At CSU, he led the Rams to their first bowl win in the 1990 Freedom Bowl, and had a record of 22-24-1 over four seasons. His collegiate coaching career spanned 21 seasons across five universities. He lead the Ohio Buckeyes to the Big Ten championship and earned the 1979 Big Ten Coach of the Year award. He was inducted into the National College Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2002, the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004, and the Iowa State Sports Hall of Fame in 2000. He was the national coach of the year as chosen by his peers at the American Football Coaches Association in 1979. He was a radio analyst at 610WTVN for more than 20 years.
Although football was a huge part of his life, nothing meant more to him than his family. He and Jean traveled to all 50 states and internationally to Ireland, Scotland and cruised the Rhine River.
A public celebration of Earle’s life will be held at 10:30 a.m., Wednesday, April 25, at St. John Arena, 410 Woody Hayes Drive. The family will receive friends following the service from 4 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25, at Schoedinger Worthington Chapel, 6699 N. High St., Columbus (Just south of I-270). Services and burial will also be held at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 5475 Brand Road for family, close friends, former players, and coaches.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Earle and Jean Bruce Alzheimer’s Research Fund in Neurology, Fund #312531, Care of The Ohio State University Foundation, Attn. Gift Processing, 1480 W. Lane Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43221; or Earle Bruce Endowed Scholarship at Iowa State University. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.Schoedinger.com.