A Tribute to Bruce Fraser

By Jo Wills

Bruce Fraser passed away on Wednesday 9th February 2022. He was a well-known figure in the Bay of Plenty sustainability community.

Bruce might have been known for his wide smile, his sustainability awareness, or for his ability to handle pretty much any situation thrown at him, or simply because he was an incredibly kind person.
I knew Bruce through my work with the Sustainable Business Network (SBN). He was a member of the governance Trust when I first started as regional manager, and then he became the Chair, which meant I was fortunate to spend a bit of time with him. He was my go-to for a lot of issues.

The thing about Bruce is he always made me feel safe. He had a special ability to be direct and kind at the same time. He said what he needed to say, so I always knew where I stood.

He didn’t operate on ego; he shared his knowledge and experience willingly, but never in a way that patronized or assumed superiority. Bruce was someone you could count on. He made himself available and he was so good at holding a crowd. This was partly because of his sense of self, but also his sense of humour. He could put people at ease very quickly with a well-considered quip and then just get down to business.

As I’ve been grieving his death, I’ve thought about the impact he’s had on me and realized it’s those qualities, the ones Bruce carried so effortlessly, that I aspire to. There are some people you meet in life who can influence you without you even realizing. You know you enjoy their company and smile when you see them, but the effect they’re having on you is undercover. These people are gifts; they leave the world a better place and improve the life of people lucky enough to know them.

I am better for knowing Bruce. When I think of him, I see his smiling face, encouraging me, sharing a bit of wisdom, and then saying he must leave because he wants to get stuck into his garden.

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