Photos of Bruce: at Broadwalk on the Boardwalk 2014; at B&W Beach Ball 2013; with Jeff Kiley at Abbamania 2013; with auctioneer Lorne Crawford at the 2013 Bachelor Auction; at the 2013 World AIDS Day Service and Walk.
Oh he’s a character,” people will say about especially unique individuals. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to the conclusion that we are all “characters,” as that expression goes.
That being said, Bruce Pfeufer stood out as a unique individual in a sea of unique individuals. He was one-of-a-kind to be sure; he was also one of the most generous men I’ve had the privilege of working with in all our time at CAMP Rehoboth. Over the years, Bruce donated or raised from various events, almost $200,000 for CAMP Rehoboth.
Bruce passed away on Sunday, June 15 at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford.
My husband, Steve Elkins, Executive Director of CAMP Rehoboth (and editor of this magazine), clearly remembers the first time he met Bruce.
“My first memory of Bruce,” he told me, “was the day he came into CAMP Rehoboth in 2006 and announced to me that he wanted to be a part of what we were doing at the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. From that day on, he was a dedicated supporter of CAMP Rehoboth.”
At that time, Bruce signed up to become a member at the highest level of the CAMP Rehoboth Founders’ Circle. He went on to fund a multitude of items, and rooms here in the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center, and for several years he completely underwrote the entire production cost of several major CAMP Rehoboth fundraising events including: Christopher Peterson’s Just Judy sell out performance at the Rehoboth Convention Center, the DC Cowboys, and Abbamania.
Bruce loved to have his photograph taken for this magazine, and over the years I shot a number of them. One of the last ones I took of him was at this year’s Broadwalk on the Boardwalk for cancer that was a part of the 2014 CAMP Rehoboth Women’s FEST in April. The walkers had just left the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard and were headed toward the beach. I had run ahead to catch the pink and lavender crowd as it moved down the block—which always happens so fast, there’s barely time to take more than a few shots, and no time to really compose anything good. Somehow though, just as I looked up there was Bruce, beaming from ear to ear when he saw my camera pointed in his direction.
“I always enjoyed his sense of humor.” CAMP Rehoboth staff member Barb Ralph recalls. “He liked to stop in the office and chat or call with questions. I always tried to make time for him, and when I needed to get on with work, he always thanked me for taking the time to talk with him. He loved the condom packet stuffing parties, and was always wondering when the next one would be. He had trouble with the assembly of them, but always volunteered to put the stickers on the completed packets. He was so thrilled to be a part of our last Broadwalk on the Boardwalk. He participated as a cancer survivor, tried to include some pink and purple in his outfit, and walked proudly with everyone. He joined the inner circle of survivors and was so pleased to be a receiver and a giver of hugs as the ceremony ended. I don’t think he had realized how supportive everyone was or could be. I’ll miss him very much.”
In his role as CAMP Rehoboth Development manager, Charlie Lee worked with Bruce on a regular basis.
“I inherited Bruce’s fund raising activity in 2008,” Charlie remembers, “and dealt with him up until the time of his death. Bruce had an amazing accounting system of his own—scraps of paper with dollar amounts—some very odd amounts, some for whole dollars—each check amount in his way of thinking was going toward a particular fund raising project for CAMP Rehoboth—sometimes it would be flower beds—next time, the sound system for CAMP. His system overwhelmed our database, and he had his own spreadsheets where I tracked all of his amazingly generous donations. He would frequently ask for updates and then he would compare them to the Bruce system—and without exception the Bruce system was right on target. Bruce’s generosity to CAMP was beyond what any non-profit could even dream of.”
My last memory of Bruce was at the 2014 CAMP Rehoboth Volunteer Appreciation Party at the CAMP Rehoboth Community Center. On that day it seemed apparent that something was terribly wrong, and I remember thinking that he was responding to things in a very un-Bruce like manner—he didn’t even seem to want his picture taken. Not long after, he was admitted to the hospital where they discovered the cancer in his brain.
CAMP Rehoboth Board member Kathy Wiz remembers Bruce from that event as well.
“As is the case for most of us,” she says, “the last time I saw Bruce was at CAMP’s Volunteer Appreciation Party. He was cordial during our conversation, but perked up when I thanked him for participating in this year’s Broadwalk on the Boardwalk and for his generous donation to Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition. He told me what a special event it had been for him; he also insisted that he wanted to ‘broadwalk’ two times a year, not just once. I told him I thought that would be nice but that Broadwalk is an annual event and the next one would be in April 2015. Bruce didn’t seem to like my answer and looked so sad when he responded, ‘Then I have to wait another year to do it?’”
Her response now is, “If only, Bruce, if only… “
Bruce touched all of us in different ways. To those who didn’t know him, he could be an easy target for ridicule, but that was to their loss, not his. He seemed to me to always inhabit a world built on innocence—not a worldly innocence—but a soulful one. His heart was huge, and to us he had angel wings.
Fittingly, Bruce’s final production, this summer’s The Glimmer Twins: A Rolling Stones Tribute Band concert on July 26 will benefit the Cancer Support Community of Delaware. Nothing would make him happier than for it to be a big success. I know I’ll be there—along with much of our CAMP Rehoboth family.
I’m sure Bruce will be watching over it all, with a big smile on his face.
Thank you Bruce, we love you. You will be missed.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.