Bruce Nelson Reuther was born May 6, 1928 in St. Paul, MN to Leo A. and Helen A. (Nelson) Reuther, where his father practiced law. He moved to Breckenridge, MN in late 1937 and the family followed in June 1938. Bruce was graduated as salutatorian from Breckenridge High School in 1946, where he was active in music, speech, theater and track.
He volunteered in the army and served in Korea from 1946-48. After attending North Dakota State School of Science, he was graduated from Hamline University, St. Paul, in 1952 with a B.A. summa cum laude. He then attended the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating in 1955 with a Juris Doctor. During his college summers he worked in Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, including four years as a bellhop at the Old Faithful Inn.
On August 8, 1954, Bruce married Betti Kuusisto of Cloquet, MN. They met in college debate at Hamline. Betti was an English/theater teacher. The couple had four children, all graduating from Breckenridge High School.
After practicing law in Bemidji, Bruce returned to Breckenridge in January 1957, where he practiced with Nelson, Clemmensen & Reuther, later Clemmensen, Reuther & Robertson. He was assistant Wilkin County attorney and county attorney for 16 years before his appointment as Wilkin County judge in December 1972, succeeding his father. After serving as district judge by special appointment, he became a Minnesota district judge in 1987. He retired on September 24, 1994 after 22 years on the bench, the last five as chief judge, and continued to serve a few days a month until July 1, 2006.
For more than 50 years Bruce was an active member of Breckenridge United Methodist Church. He kept an associate membership when he and Betti retired to Ottertail Lake, MN in 1995, where they had owned a cottage since 1968. He joined Richville United Methodist Church, serving as church treasurer and annual conference lay delegate. Bruce sang in the two church choirs for a total of 40 years.
He was active in numerous legal and civic organizations, holding various presidencies and offices in the Minnesota Judges and Bar associations. These included the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce, Bois de Sioux Toastmasters Club, and charter member of the Breckenridge Lions Club and Community Chest. Bruce served on advisory boards to the mayor and hospital, and was active in community theater. In 1988 he was named Breckenridge Man of the Year. He belonged to and supported many national environmental, historical and political organizations. He was a liberal Democrat, but nevertheless figured he’d make it to heaven.
Bruce enjoyed his family and pets, reading, gardening, Ottertail Lake, and he and Betti greatly enjoyed traveling. They often did so with their children, returning to the national parks with great frequency. The couple celebrated their 50
wedding anniversary in 2004 in Yellowstone, accompanied by their entire family. He visited 45 states, all the Canadian provinces, as well as 31 countries on six continents, most recently Finland to visit Tuomas Pääkkönen, the exchange student they hosted in 1981-82. He had a tremendous sense of humor and clearly enjoyed life.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Betti K., and four children and five grandchildren: Brigitte Kay Reuther and husband Paul R. Jorstad, Plymouth, MN; Belinda R. and husband Allen L. Multhaup, Watertown, SD, and their children Casey and Danielle; Brett A. Reuther, Mound, MN; and Blair N. and wife Dena L. Reuther, Waconia, MN, and their children Kelsi, Taylor and Sydney.
Bruce was preceded in death by his parents Leo (1988) and Helen (1997), and sister Janice Reuther Smith (1986).
Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 10:00 AM at Richville United Methodist Church in Richville, MN and at 2:00 PM at Breckenridge United Methodist Church, Breckenridge, MN.
Visitation will be on Friday, January 30, 2009 at Richville United Methodist Church, Richville, MN from 5:00 pm to 8:00 PM.
There will also be visitation one hour prior to the services at the churches.
Interment will be at Riverside Cemetery, Breckenridge, MN.
Arrangements are entrusted to Joseph Vertin & Sons Funeral Home of Breckenridge, MN. www.josephvertinandsons.com