Bruce Speegle's Memorial


Bruce Speegle’s service was November 10, 2018 at the Church of the Red Rocks in Sedona, Arizona. Here are the words, written and recorded, from his daughters, “outgoing, little sister” Dr. Sara Day and “most practical sister” Bette Lynn Ramsey. (I am Bette Lynn’s husband.)

Click for an mp3 format recording of the eulogy below.

We would like to tell you a little bit about Dad and his life well lived before he moved to this beautiful area.  He was an only child, born in the small town of Sewanne Tennessee (population ~2,300) and raised in a nearby town half that size called Monteagle. 

To give you just a bit of trivia: Monteagle is on what the locals call Monteagle Mountain. This is a stretch of Interstate Highway that passes over the Cumberland Plateau. Being part of the plateau, it is not technically a mountain, but it sure looks that way if you are driving over it due to the steep grade. In fact, it is frequently referenced as one of the most treacherous stretches of interstate in the United States. So much so that Johnny Cash, a personal favorite of dad’s, wrote a song about it.

Perhaps this is what inspired dad, later on in life, to build highways and runaway truck ramps! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Dad was an eagle scout growing up and an avid athlete in high school, playing varsity football, basketball, and tennis. From the pictures and memorabilia that he saved it also seems he was quite popular especially with the girls!

He joined the marines at he age of 17 during World War II and fought in the South Pacific. When the war was over he went first to the University of Tennesse and then to Colorado State University to play football and study civil engineering. 

Granddaughter Rachel Ramsey reads 1st Corinthians 13Even though he went out West, you can’t take the South out of a Tennessean as dad once told me he would pack a suitcase full of moonshine when back home in Tennesse to take back on the train for his buddies in Colorado! 

It was while he was in university that mom and dad meet on a blind date.  And, being tall, dark, and handsome he succeeded in sweeping mom off her feet. And sweep he did!  Together, following his career path as a civil engineer, they moved 11 times, lived in 7 states, and one foreign country.  They were married New Year’s Eve in 1950 and this December it would have been their 68th wedding anniversary.

Dad didn’t talk much about his career or achievements. In fact, dad didn’t really talk much at all!  What we gleaned over the years was either from mom or newspaper clippings.  His lifework of building highways and bridges began in West Virginia where he was hired by the engineering firm that built the West Virginia Turnpike in 1952. 

This Turnpike  climbs from an elevation of 600 feet at Charleston to an elevation of 3,400 feet at Flat Top Mountain and has 116 bridges - more than one every mile. It was nicknamed “the engineering marvel that beat the mountains“, as mountains literally had to be moved to complete the job. 

Dad was well liked and respected on the job. I know this from the lifelong friends he made while working on the project and the fact that in later years his boss became a district engineer in Pennsylvania and held the position of assistant district engineer a year waiting for dad to be able to take it.  

In 1954 dad’s father died so he and our mother moved back to his hometown in Tennessee to put his father’s affairs in order for his mother. This was where my sister and I were born but we didn’t stay long, because as soon as everything was in good order, dad took a job in Chicago, building the interchange at O’Hara airport. We then went to Portland, Maine where he engineered a bridge across the bay. After that we traveled across country to Tucson, Arizona where he was involved in building the missile silos. When that was finished, dad took a job in Thailand, building roads & bridges in the northern part of the country, while the family lived in Bangkok for 3 years.

In 1964, we returned to the US, this time to Pennsylvania where dad was first employed as an Assistant District Engineer for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and then later as District Engineer working in three different districts until he retired.  

Our knowledge of his work was limited during our years in Pennsylvania. All I really knew was that he was “the boss”, both at home and at work. It was later that I came to realize just how well respected and thought of he was by employees and employers alike. 

Grandson Robert Ramsey reads Psalm 121The employees because of his management acumen delivered with fairness and respect and employers not only due to his skill as an engineer and manager but also due to his uprightness of character and incorruptibility.  I know this, not only because past employees continued to contact him and express their respect, but also because he survived several changes of political climate when he could have been fired for not being a member of the elected party at the time, as well as in later years he was asked to move to a known problem district in order to clean up the corruption within that department.  

While in Pennsylvania, dad was a dutiful and active member of the community.  He was president of the Hospital Board, served on numerous charitable boards, and was an active Rotarian, and a faithful member of the United Methodist Church.  

I don’t know where he found the time to do all this and play golf (which he did most weekends) as well as attend every basketball and volleyball game, track and swim meet, band and chorus concert our sister and I participated in.  He even went to plays just to see the scenery my sister had painted!  

To say we were supported by our father is an understatement. He was the stability and the backbone of our family. Always quietly providing whatever we needed and a safety net we could count on. 

He was a firm believer in higher education and started saving for my sister and me to attend college the day we were born. We were encouraged to go out into the world with the belief we could achieve what ever we set our minds to. 

I always felt he was an advocate of equal rights and opportunities in a time when women’s rights were just beginning to be heard. And he taught me not to shrink from what is difficult and to stand up for what I thought was right. He had a keen sense of fairness and justice that he imparted to us.  I’m not sure how he did this exactly, as like I said, he didn’t talk much, being the strong silent type.  So it was wasn‘t so much in words as it was in his actions.  

Whenever I think of our father, 2 words immediately come to mind.  Honor and Integrity. Dad was an honorable man, full of integrity.

Definitions for honorable or honor include:

A person who believes in truth and doing the what is morally right, and lives up to high principles.

Who adheres to a high standard of conduct and has a keen sense of ethical conduct.

A Quality that combines respect, pride and honesty 

Beliefs and standards of behavior that make people respect and trust one.

Integrity, on the other hand, implies:

uprightness of character, trustworthiness and incorruptibility to such a degree that one is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility or pledge.

Such definitions describe our father.  We could always be proud of him as he was all of these things and more. 

He treated his family, friends, superiors, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers with respect and was worthy of the respect of others. 

He did his duty in all things, not because he felt he had to but because he simply could not be any other way. It was in his moral fiber. 

Dad was also a loving husband, father, and grandfather. 

We chose the scripture First Corinthians chapter 13, particularly verses 4-7, because it aptly described the way our father loved us, especially our mother.

Love is patient and kind

Love is not jealous or boastful;

It is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way;

It is not irritable or resentful; 

It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right

Love bears all things, 

Believes all things, 

Hopes all things, 

And endures all things.

Love never ends.


We are so grateful to have had such a strong role model and blessed to have had such a good and loving husband, father, and grandfather.  

You will be missed.




Click obituary image for PDF of the obituary


Click for an Mp3 recording of Rachel Ramsey (granddaughter) reading First Corinthians 13

Click for an Mp3 recording of Robert Ramsey (grandson) reading Psalm 121

Click for a PDF copy of the Church of the Red Rocks bulletin (with photos)

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Reader Comments (1)

Sending heartfelt condolences to Manor Park Grammar School (Nuneaton, Warks.England) classmate, Bette Lynn.
with love and warm memories, Viv

March 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterVivian Comer

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