GUEST COLUMN: Daddy Bruce was a citizen cat  Opinion

GUEST COLUMN: Daddy Bruce was a citizen cat Opinion

Thousands travel on Bruce Randolph Boulevard in northeastern Denver each year, and very few know or think about who Bruce Randolph was and why he would deserve to have a major artery named after him.

Bruce Randolph was not a politician, military hero, sports figure or famous pioneer. For family and friends and large parts of Denver, he was just Daddy Bruce. He was a bourgeois treasure for Denver, symbolizing what was best about the city. He was not a wealthy person in the traditional sense, but he was rich in friends, loved by many and held in high esteem by society. His contribution was not meant to support other endeavors or a trade in trade, but really came from the heart.

To many of us, he was a shining example of altruism. He was the epitome of love for his fellow man, selflessness and the spirit of generosity.

Daddy Bruce was black and had grown up poor in Arkansas in the deep south in the early 1900s, when segregation was a way of life. Life was hard and he left home early. While he had a limited education, he was a wise and resourceful man who was a hard worker who knew how to cook and had a unique barbecue style. Before coming to Denver in 1959 to be closer to his eldest son, he had failed with two restaurants in other cities and arrived in Denver with little money. He took a job as a caretaker in the beginning, but the itch to get back to food service remained. His son owned a barbershop in northeast Denver, and over time with his son’s permission, Dad added some tables to the store and began serving barbecue sandwiches to customers who were growing in popularity. This led to Daddy at the mature age of 63, where many are considering retiring, making a third attempt to make a trip out of it as a restaurateur, and he opened Daddy Bruce’s Bar-B-Que on 34th Ave. in northeastern Denver. Daddy Bruce and his distinctive barbecue style became a hit, and his restaurant and catering business flourished. He counted the Denver Broncos as one of his customers, and in some games he was even flown with the team to away games so he could make his unique food style for the team.

However, Daddy Bruce’s story really began with Thanksgiving Day in 1967, when he felt that no one should go without a proper and appropriately hot dinner on that Thanksgiving day. That afternoon, with a little attention, he packed a truck with food and a portable barbecue and began serving free Thanksgiving meals at City Park, Denver. In the first year he fed several hundred people. While some friends questioned the cost of this, Father Bruce felt an obligation to help others, and his reward was the appreciative faces of those who received a hot Thanksgiving meal on a chilly November day. He did not ask if anyone was poor, but rather assumed if you were there that you were in need. This started a tradition that moved from the park over time to his restaurant. Instead of a few hundred people, it grew to thousands of less fortunate people who would line up outside Daddy Bruce’s restaurant on Thanksgiving. In time, Father Bruce added an Easter egg hunt for children and also made clothes trips for the poor to give them warm clothes for the winter. While Daddy Bruce died in 1994, his Thanksgiving tradition continues through the annual Feed a Family event in his honor, which provided meals to an estimated 35,000 people last Thanksgiving.

To a large extent, the father’s kindness and charity towards others can be traced to his grandmother, who was a great influence in his life. She had taught him many life lessons, but also instilled in him the importance of giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate. His Thanksgiving dinner for the poor was his way of sharing some of the fruits that were bestowed upon him. He did not expect or seek anything in return. While receiving recognition for his charitable contributions, Father remained humble and said that thanks should go to his Creator and others.

For many, wealth and power are the keys to happiness. Daddy Bruce recognized early on that true happiness was something that could best be achieved by helping others and especially the poorest in our society.

While many sit down to family meals and eat turkey and watch football on Thanksgiving, I hope some will spend a moment this year remembering a little man who spent all day cooking and serving others less fortunate, one who understood the true meaning of the day – thank you for all we have. We hope Dad Bruce will serve Thanksgiving dinner with all the things that fix in a better place in November.

While Father Bruce died with little, he left a rich legacy. He was a shining example to others of a well-lived life and one who went on to improve the lives of others, even at the expense of his own welfare. When Daddy Bruce passed away, others picked up the torch and sought to continue the great acts of charity and community strengthening that Daddy Bruce started so many years ago.

On February 15, the Daddy Bruce Legacy Foundation will hold a virtual celebration of his 121st birthday at. 17.00 (MST) at www.daddybrucelegacy.org. On that website, you can do your part by making a contribution to help continue the compassionate traditions and programs that Daddy Bruce started. Along with the virtual celebration, Rocky Mountain PBS Channel 6 will air a movie about Daddy Bruce, “Keep a Light in Your Window” on February 11 at 19.00 (MST) in honor of his upcoming birthday.

Greg Fulton is president of Colorado Motor Carriers, which represents more than 650 companies directly involved in or affiliated with truck driving in Colorado.

Greg Fulton is president of Colorado Motor Carriers, which represents more than 650 companies directly involved in or affiliated with truck driving in Colorado.

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