December 19, 2018

Patricia Ann Bruce

From the banks of her beloved Plum Creek in the Nebraska Sandhills to a villa in the Vienna woods, Patricia Ann Bruce savored all that life had to offer.

Born in Omaha, the daughter of Dean and Grace Nordin, Pat attended Central High School and the University of Nebraska. She was AOII song leader and President and wrote Patter by Pat, a column for the Daily Nebraskan.

When Pat first met Jack Bruce at college, she was unimpressed. He wore a hat and carried a briefcase. But Jack won Pat over with his wit, charm and devastating good looks. They were married in 1950.

After living and working in Lincoln and Alliance, they settled in Omaha. Jack was headmaster of Brownell Talbot School, and Pat a stay-at-home mom.

In 1967, the family made the first of many overseas moves. Jack was director of the American International School in Vienna, Austria. Pat met the challenge of renovating the Director’s residence (a crash course in German!) and spent the next four years hosting school events; soaking up music, art and culture; and planning family trips all over Europe.

She traded “guten tag” for “hey, y’all” with a move to Tuscaloosa, Alabama where Jack finished his doctorate in international education. Then, off to the Philippines and the International School in Manila. Upon arrival, a typhoon brought the island nation to a standstill and Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law. Pat handled the upheaval with her unique brand of courage and compassion, helping to sack rice for flood victims in the typhoon’s aftermath.

Their adventures continued in New York City. Jack was director of the United Nations International School, Pat a substitute teacher. Together they enjoyed exploring the city that never sleeps.

Next stop: Athens, Greece. Pat taught at the American School, chaperoned school trips, hosted boarding school events and made huge pans of lasagna for John’s friends.

In 1984, they moved to Saudi Arabia where they worked for Saudi Arabian International Schools until Jack’s death in 1990. Pat received an award for staying to teach during the first gulf war. She rode her bike to school every day gas mask in hand, watched Soviet Scud missiles fly overhead and helped wash birds recovered from oil spills.

In 1992, Pat retired and moved to Lincoln. She volunteered with the Nebraska Democrats and Planned Parenthood, sang in her church choir, served as a docent for Sheldon Museum of Art. She loved going to the Lied Center, the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra, and other arts events and movies. She continued to travel, visiting Chile, Guatemala and Mexico.

Pat met Dan Sullivan in 1999. They shared a love for dancing and travel and got married in Hawaii in 2002. They traveled to Ireland and wintered in Texas where they enjoyed golf, socializing with friends and walking the beach. They attended Husker football games, First Fridays and countless recitals and school events of her grandchildren.

Pat’s bravery, persistence and zest for life afforded her many experiences: skiing in Austria, snorkeling in the Philippines, a hot air balloon safari in Kenya. A lifelong learner, she mastered German, studied Spanish in Guatemala, and earned a Master’s Degree in Education at 60. Pat was a fashionista and a feminist who joined the throngs in the Women’s March and always wore great shoes. Above all, she loved her family and made more chocolate chip cookies than you could shake a stick at.

Pat is survived by her husband, Dan Sullivan, son John Bruce, daughters and sons-in-law Ann and Mark Watt and Mary Jane Bruce and Tom Stephens, sister and brother-in-law Pam and John Jepsen, sister-in-law Ann Nordin and many grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who loved her and will miss her.

Memorial service will be held 11:00 a.m. Friday, December 21, 2018 at Wyuka Funeral Home, Lincoln. Memorials to Carry The Future (


  1. Dear Ann, Mary Jane, and John,
    Your mother played a very important role in my life, as a Scout leader at Washington School. She was so kind, loving, strong, smart, and beautiful! What a wonderful role model! You are so fortunate to have had such an amazing mom. I am grateful to have known her.
    With sympathy and best wishes,
    Laurie Smith Camp

  2. Uncle Dan and extended family of Pat, I’m thinking of you at this very sad time. Pat lead a very full life as evidenced by her obituary. While I only knew her briefly she always fun to chat with. May your wonderful memories of Pat, your with and mother bring you comfort and peace in the time ahead.

  3. To Mary Jane and family,

    Though I was an AOII, I never knew that your mother was, nor did I know of all the amazing experiences she enjoyed or the contributions she made to the communities she lived in. I lost both my parents in 2017, and although it is generally in the normal course of events that we bury our parents, we never feel as though we had them long enough and the hole in our hearts when they pass is always enormous. While the hole never fills completely, it does move out of our immediate sight with time. I know that the memories of the wonderful woman who was your mother will help sustain you during this hard time. My sincere condolences.

  4. I want to extend my condolences to Patricia’s family and friends. May the
    warm and loving memories of her be a source of comfort for you at this
    difficult time. Prayer to God will also give you the comfort needed.
    Pray for the strength to cope with the loss of this dear woman.
    Psalm 46:1

  5. Dear Family, I’m sorry for your loss.

  6. To Ann, Mary Jane and John

    I came to know your mom in Vienna, Austria. Ann, you and I went to school at AIS. John you were two or three years old. But I used to sleep over some weekends. And I remember the chocolate chip cookies. I looked at your mom as my mom. For years I have looked for her and wanted to tell her how much she meant to me. Only now(May 29, 2020, did I succeed. I am so sorry for your loss. With tears I say goodbye to my ‘other’ mom.


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