Obituary: Bruce Scott Campbell, 1957‑2020 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Bruce Scott Campbell, 1957‑2020 

Shelburne man was an artist at heart who faced death "astonished and alert"

click to enlarge Bruce Campbell - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Bruce Campbell

Bruce died peacefully at home after having been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal brain tumor, 14 months earlier. Like the sand irritant that creates the pearl, Bruce’s journey through the relentlessly challenging universe of terminal illness clarified the dignity of this inherently noble yet humble man.

Bruce was born and raised in Indianapolis — an Eagle Scout, a National Merit Scholar — but felt like he really came home when he made his way to Manhattan as a young adult. He had a gift for finding the really good-quality things, whether it was a piece of music, a theatrical performance or an eccentric friend. Although he made his living in corporate communications and had a fulfilling, rich career at Ciba Geigi, Ernst & Young, Keurig Green Mountain, and Tesaro, he was, at heart, an artist. He produced radio programs for public radio, wrote plays that were produced in Manhattan and Indiana, played piano beautifully, produced an independent feature film, was a wonderful singer (who surprised his wife at their wedding reception by singing two love songs, which he had secretly been rehearsing for weeks), and was a gifted actor who loved the theater through and through and performed widely, especially after moving to his beloved Vermont 14 years ago.

Bruce had this exceptional ability to clarify things. He would be silent in the midst of a prolonged debate, and then say something that was stunningly precise and clarifying, using only as many words as necessary. He was utterly trustworthy and, though gifted in so many ways, never arrogant or dismissive of his plainspoken Midwestern roots. He was a steady, strong, wise and witty father to his beloved two sons and a treasure to his wife of 30 years. At 61, he learned he had about a year to live. In the ensuing months, he never complained but did say he was sad that he wasn’t going to get more of the life he wholeheartedly loved. He was a deeply spiritual man who found great comfort and wisdom in the Christian mystical tradition and Buddhist teachings. When asked how he felt knowing he would die soon, he responded, “I am astonished and alert.” His last coherent statement, as the tumor was just about done ravishing his brain and body, was, “I have always wanted to immerse myself in glorious faraway places, but I feel constrained.” Now, though we miss him beyond words, he is free.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; sons Ian and Jesse; and sister Bari, who are all deeply grateful for the kind and competent care given him by Dr. Alissa Thomas, Dr. Bruce Tranmer and the gifted University of Vermont hospice staff.

Donations in Bruce’s memory may be made to Special Olympics Vermont ( or Heartbeet Life Sharing, a community for adults with intellectual abilities (

A celebration of Bruce’s life will be held at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, via Zoom, on Saturday, January 2, at 1 p.m. See Zoom invitation below.

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