Remembering Bruce Katter
Lincoln Bruce Katter
There’s more to marathoning than the races and running. It’s the fellowship and friendships that are formed that make it so great. There’s a special runner who has touched the lives of many, and we want to share our thoughts as we say, “Goodbye,” to Bruce Katter.
It was a warm evening in downtown Seattle near the Kingdome when I first met Bruce before the start of the July 31, 1992, Seafair Torchlight 5 Mile Run. It was the first race that I had attended with Bob Dolphin, and Bruce was the first running friend of his whom I met. After the race he “came to my rescue” when Bob didn’t show up at our designated meeting place. Bruce conducted a search and found him enjoying the food provided for the finishers! Evidently, Bob had forgotten that he had a date waiting for him.
Here are Bob’s thoughts about Bruce 15 years later.
“The last time that I saw Bruce Katter, 73, our good friend from Edmonds, Washington, was the day after our Yakima River Canyon Marathon of Saturday, March 31, 2007. As in other years, he was a big help volunteering at the packet pickup/Expo at the Selah Civic Center. He helped hang banners and signs, but his main job was handling the change box for meal ticket purchases for the marathon.
Several months later Bruce let us know that he was being treated for lung cancer (which later spread to his bones). He mentioned that he was fatigued and not able to talk on the phone. Subsequently, after chemo and radiation, he told Lenore of feeling better and being well enough to work on repairing his deck that had been damaged by a falling tree.
When we called Bruce’s home on November 11, 2007, Bruce’s sister, Lee Peterson from Minnesota, answered and conveyed the sad news that Bruce had died earlier in the day.
He was a premier runner who competed in recent years in the 5K national championships at Carlsbad, California, and the Twin Cities Marathon at Minneapolis, Minnesota, masters competition. After he joined the 50 States Marathon Club, he traveled often and extensively in the United States until he became a 50 States FINISHER.
Bruce, Lenore and I were guests of Ed and Lois Driver on Oahu for the 2003 Honolulu Marathon. He, Ed and I ran the race to add “ Hawaii” to our respective states lists. Two years later the five of us were joined by Roger Biggs and Jack Brooks from the United Kingdom at the 2005 Prince of Wales Marathon at Craig, Alaska, on Prince of Wales Island. The five men ran the marathon and added “Alaska” to their states lists.
When we were invited to a party to celebrate his becoming a 50 States Finisher, Mel Preedy, Bill Iffrig and I were there as runners while other friends were musicians, sailors or former co-workers…..reflecting Bruce’s diverse interests and talents. He had worked as an engineer at a company at Redmond, Washington, until he retired.
On two occasions, he joined friends to sail around the world on small craft. Another example of his adventurous spirit was one of his last marathons at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
Bruce tried different types of running. He ran with the Fabulous Fifties Team at the Hood to Coast Relay many times and competed in the Pacific Rim 24 Hour Run in Sakajawea Park at Longview, Washington, twice with his friend Norm Folling. He was a member of the 100 Marathon Club North America.
He was a good friend who was generous, thoughtful and he helped his friends. Those of us who knew him were privileged, and we will miss him.
He loved the sea, so it’s fitting that he’ll have a burial at sea with his ashes being scattered with the outgoing tide at Port Townsend, WA, on December 8, 2007.”
And this is what Jack Brooks from St. Albans, U.K. wrote:
“Bruce Katter RIP.
I first met Bruce in April 2002 on the way to the Yakima River Canyon Marathon. Bob and Lenore Dolphin mobilised all of their friends for this event and Bruce had volunteered to put up the 3 crazy Brits (Roger Biggs, Big Dave Carter and me). I well remember the first night we met him. Bruce had 2 spare beds and a camp bed. It was obvious from the start that Big Dave and the camp bed was not a perfect pairing and I drew the short straw. Half way through the night I visited the bathroom. Not wishing to wake anybody I crept there and back in the dark. Alas, when I alighted on the camp bed the 2 ends closed in on me like a venus fly-trap. It took some time to extract myself from this predicament. Everybody was highly amused at my misfortune as I recounted my misadventure the following morning and I swear that even Bruce’s dog (Thunder) was smirking.
Bruce was the perfect host and spent a day and a half showing us the sights of Seattle, before rejoining us in Yakima.
We kept in touch with Bruce from then on as we followed his progress around all 50 States. Roger and I shared a room with him when we all ran the Prince of Wales Marathon in Alaska. When I spoke to him in September he was hopeful that we could meet up in Yakima next year, but unfortunately it was not to be.
Thank you, Bruce, for your relentless good humour and for being a loyal friend and a generous host. I shall always remember you.”
The words I’d like to use to describe Bruce are: thoughtful and caring, talented, competitive, adventuresome, clever and full of surprises.
The first time we were invited to Bruce’s home, it was interesting to see his sewing machine that was installed in a cut-out he had made in his dining room table! He made the quilt on his bed from his running shirts, proof that he knew how to use the sewing machine. Later, he made personalized “drop-bags” for Bob to use when he crewed for him at his first attempt to run the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California.
He drove all the way from his Edmonds home in his sports car to be Bob’s support person. The night before the race the two of them decided to stay in sleeping bags on a grassy area near the starting line to make sure they’d be on time the next morning. Good choice!! They were awakened several hours before the start when the automatic sprinkler system turned on!
Bruce was always proud of his sports car and drove from Edmonds to our Renton home to show us the newest one he had purchased. His license plate was “XPLOR “ (Explore Space)…..exemplifyling his adventuresome spirit. When he hosted Lois and Ed Driver from Palm Desert, California, for one of our Yakima River Canyon Marathons, he rented a car to accommodate all of them for the weekend.
He was a volunteer and participant at six of our seven marathons and surprised us with two special gifts: a large wood-framed map of the Yakima River Canyon that is displayed each year in the entryway of the Selah Civic Center on race weekend and a large YRCM poster with a picture he had taken of Ed Driver on the course. He had a good excuse for missing one of our races. A marathon in another state conflicted with our date, and he needed the “state” for his goal of running a marathon in every state.
At one time, he had been a heavy smoker who met the challenge for better health by quitting smoking, losing weight and taking up running. When his retirement day arrived sooner than he had originally planned, he set a new goal of completing a marathon in all 50 states.
Here is what Paula and Steve Boone, officers of the 50 States Marathon Club from Humble, Texas, said, “That makes us so sad to hear about Bruce. We were just talking about the time when he showed us his 50 states scrapbook (where he drew Steve as a judge). We’ll all miss him terribly.”
We’ll all miss Bruce terribly, but we’ll have good memories forever. He had great parties at his house…..with a lot of things to remember: his good cooking, the live turtles in his basement (his pets!), his finishers medals circularly arranged on a glass-topped round table, “Big Foot” (the bass fiddle he built and played at the jam sessions) and his sense of humor.
At a party at his house shortly after a Seattle Marathon he enjoyed showing off “Mel’s wristwatch.” He and Mel Preedy were in the same age group at this race, and Bruce surged past Mel in the final yards to come in a few seconds ahead of him to win the age division. This was the first time wrist watches were given as first place age group awards, and Bruce enjoyed teasing Mel about this.
Mel wasn’t the only one who met up with his competitive spirit as a surprise. Every five years for almost a month he and Bob were in the same age group. In 1999 when this happened, Bruce had an injury and illness and wasn’t planning to run the Skagit Flats Marathon on September 11th. However, he was “miraculously” cured, trained extra hard and was able to surprise Bob at the race and take first place in their age division!
My biggest “surprise” came on Easter Sunday one year when I answered the door at our Renton home to find a big Easter Bunny there with an Easter basket for me. Bruce knew that I collected “Cows” and kept increasing my herd often from purchases he made at his thrift store adventures. In my Easter basket that day was a porcelain cow that was “flashing.” From then on Bruce was known as “The Dirty Easter Bunny.” In the future I’ll miss the messages from “The Dirty Easter Bunny” on our answering machine.
Roger Biggs sent an e-mail from the United Kingdom. “Sorry to hear the news. I have passed this information on to Jack. We were both looking forward to meeting him at Yakima next year. I’m glad we managed to talk to him back at the start of September.”
Dave “Roadkill” Johnson from the Prince of Wales Marathon in Craig, Alaska, said, “I’m not sure what to say………It is a sad day. I’m glad I got to know him if only briefly.”
In addition to being a 50 States Marathon Club and 100 Marathon Club North America member, he was Marathon Maniac #77 at the Iridium,
From the first time I met Bruce at the Seafair Torchlight Run of 1992 until the last time I saw him, the day after he ran his last race wearing bib #500 at our March 31, 2007, Yakima River Canyon Marathon, it’s been a privilege to have had Bruce Katter as our special friend for 15 years.
…………………..Written by Lenore and Bob Dolphin………and friends