Meeting Bruce Ruckel on the sidelines of any local football game meant you just made a friend.
Bruce was a teacher, but not in the Hays CISD “teacher” sense.
He was a natural teacher who showed his photographic expertise to newcomers on the sidelines. He taught you how to catch the light, how to fix a camera, how to make sure you have the right angle. He would lend you his lens – if you promised not to drop it. He always had extra batteries.
He taught high school students sideline etiquette. “No, don’t stand there … You block all the other photographers’ shots.” “Don’t ever walk between a photograper and the sideline … walk around.” “Careful, don’t turn your back on the game.”
And when you met Bruce, that meant you met Susie, the love of his life. He teased her – and adored her. His eyes twinkled when he talked about her. Even when he was on the opposite sidelines, you could catch him looking for her across the field. But, don’t tell her that!
You also got to know how proud Bruce was of his son, Caleb – Hays High’s homecoming king, the family athlete who ran, and ran … and ran.
To those of us who were so honored to have known Bruce, even for the short time that we did, it meant a hardy laugh and a joke.
As we walked from the north goal line to the south, he talked about his jobs, about life, about family.
He loved doing photography work for the Lehman High athletics. He proudly showed off his large posters all over the Lehman walls. He and Susie covered all kinds of sports – football, volleyball, basketball. He covered Hays High throughout the year. He knew everyone.
As a team, the pair really got to know the students. Parents called them to take photos of their cheerleaders, their dancers, their darlings.
Bruce Ruckel died this weekend, leaving a hole in the heart of many in Hays CISD.
The sidelines will not be the same without his laugh – and his expertise.
Thanks, Bruce, for the time we had with you.