Rev. Leslie Leander Bruce, 85, died November 4, with his beloved wife by his side in Nashville, TN.
Leslie, known as Buddy to most of his family, was born on October 20, 1937, in Spencer, Tennessee, to Leander and Hazel Bruce. As a youth, he returned from Cincinnati, Ohio, and spent his summers with his grandparents in beautiful East Tennessee. He was influenced early on by the prayers and testimony of his great-grandparents, and spent his life pursuing the calling to preach and spread the gospel. Leslie met his wife, Phyllis, 65 years ago and knew immediately he wanted to marry her. He finally convinced her of the same after 2 weeks, and they have had the love story of a lifetime for these last 65 years. Along the way, God surprised them with two daughters of whom he was immensely proud. He graduated from Carson-Newman University in Jefferson City, TN, and also from Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Ordained at Lebanon Baptist Church while still in college, Leslie was a respected pastor and spent his ministry and retirement encouraging those in service to the Lord. Many others, men and women, were called into Christian ministry under his preaching and mentoring. He spent 45 years as a pastor of five Southern Baptist churches, in North Carolina as well as in East and Middle Tennessee. He was a consummate student of the Word and loved sharing that knowledge with his church. He was devoted to missions, often taking part in mission trips, and also treasured his ministrations for the Executive Board for the Tennessee Baptist Convention.
Leslie enjoyed traveling with his family, hunting and fishing, and had a passion for reading books of all kinds, even in his later years when he was unable to participate in his other hobbies. He adored his pets, laughing with his girls, and even baking. Some would say he made the best chocolate chocolate chip pound cake they ever had. “Buddy” was kind and loving, and frequently sought out by family members in search of wise counsel. His wife and daughters always knew they were loved immensely. As an only child with only his mother, Hazel, surviving late into his adulthood, Buddy considered his wife’s extended family as his own and treasured all his relationships.
Rev. Bruce is survived by his wife, Phyllis; two daughters and their spouses, Beth and Danny Hilbert, and Lee Anne and Stuart Boone; 6 grandchildren (Holly with spouse Brandon, Lilly, Harrison, Reese, Peyton and Aubrey), and 1 great grandson, Ryker.
Remembrance services in his honor will be held in Madisonville, TN at Chestua Baptist Church on Sunday, November 20th. Visitation will be from 1:30-2:30 pm, with a memorial service immediately following. Interment will be held at a later date for family.
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