John David Bruch May 11, 1941 – November 30, 2021


LUSK – Funeral Services for John David Bruch, 80, were held at 10 a.m. December 6, 2021, at St. Leo’s Catholic Church in Lusk with Father Andrew Duncan officiating, with lunch following the service. A private burial will follow. There will be a rosary held at 5 p.m. at St. Leo’s Catholic Church Sunday Dec 5, 2021, with Father Ray Moss officiating.

He passed away November 30, 2021, peacefully at his home on the ranch near Node. 

He was born May 11, 1941 in Lusk, where he was the first infant to be born in the Spencer Hospital, which later became the Hospitality House. 

John grew up on the family ranch just east of Lusk, which was homesteaded by his father and aunts in 1910. This is where his ingenuity was cultivated. As a young boy John helped with the family sheep operation, helped build windmills with parts salvaged from Ford Model T cars, helped his dad transform the first car in Niobrara County into a drilling rig which was then used to drill wells for themselves and other ranchers throughout the county. He also wired his parents’ entire home when he was just 8 years old, as electricity had just been introduced to the area, just prior to the blizzard of ‘49.

John attended 1st-8th grade at the Node School with the same teacher, Miss Emma Walters, for all 8 years. He then attended Niobrara County High School, graduating in 1958 at the age of 17. 

After one semester in college and brief stint in the Army National Guard, he joined his lifelong friend, Fred Bruegger, in a farming operation near Keeline in 1959. 

On June 29, 1968, he married Patricia Kathryn Kratzer, who would be his lifelong sweetheart and business partner. Together they built up their ranch, their family and their life. 

During his farming years in Keeline, he would also continue to help his dad and two brothers, Chuck and Joe, on the family ranch in Node from 1959-1991. The three boys operated the ranch together, purchasing cattle and building and purchasing hay equipment, much of which was engineered and designed by Carl, John and Joe. The brothers also installed several center pivot irrigation systems, one of which they built from scratch. It was the first system of its kind in the county. 

After a number of years operating the ranch as Bruch Brothers Partners, John took over the operation of the ranch at Node in 1992. John took pride in his range management, his black Angus cattle herd, and worked tirelessly to raise premier alfalfa hay that was sold throughout the country. He continued to run the ranch until his “soft” retirement in 2005 when his eldest son Bryan took over the primary operation of the ranch. John was known for his uncanny ability to literally fix and build anything as well as his honesty and fairness in all business matters. He was a man of few words but lived by strong principles and lots of “Johnisms”: “never put off to tomorrow what you can do today” “if you don’t take the time to do it right the first time, what makes you think you have the time to do it over” “how many people work for you John? Oh, about half of ‘em” “it’ll feel better when it quits hurtin’” and many, many more.

John devoted many hours to the community serving nine years on the ASCS board and over 20 years on the NEA board. In 1988 he was awarded the Good Year Conservation award for outstanding accomplishment in resource conservation and Outstanding Operator for soil, water and related resources.  During his retirement years he and Pat also enjoyed traveling including trips to Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Central America and multiple destinations in Europe. 

John’s two true loves forever remained his family and the ranch. He was a devoted father and husband. John continued to help Bryan on the ranch almost daily until 2020 when his body just wouldn’t allow for him to continue his love of farming and ranching. Even though his body was failing him, his mind remained sharp. He continued to enjoy advising and teaching the young kids who worked on the ranch, his grandchildren and his children. The physical trials he endured were significant, but he never complained. He simply accepted the hand that he was dealt and found ways to still be productive and keep his mind sharp by becoming an avid investor in the stock market in his final years. 

He is survived by his wife of 53 years, their three children Bryan (Shelly), Michael, Andrea (Jeff), 5 grandchildren (Bryn, Brittin, Elizabeth, Ethan and Lily), brothers Chuck (Karen) and Joe (Sherry) and many nieces and nephews whom he loved dearly. 

He was preceded in death by his grandparents and parents (Carl and Mary) and one sister (Eileen).

The family would love to see you and have you share your stories about John, but please don’t feel obligated to attend the funeral. John disliked attending funerals and one of his Johnisms was “why would I go to his funeral, he isn’t comin’ to mine”. 

In recognition of John’s love for mentoring young people in the art of farming and ranching, memorials may be designated to the Rawhide FFA Chapter for student projects or a charity of your choice.

Pier Funeral Home is in charge of the funeral arrangements. 

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