Bruce Andrew Sharp
March 7, 1963-August 4, 2020
Intelligence, Conscience & Courage
First, Bruce was Winnie and Herb’s boy. Then he was everyone else’s.
Bruce was a supportive brother to Carol and Craig and a devoted Uncle to Katie & Nicole, Jordan & Sandra, Christopher & Patrick. He was a much-loved and respected brother-in-law to Frank, Nancy & Alex, Deb & Scott. He was a generous and doting papa to April, Miller & Fergus, Mikey & Maybe, and a Doggie Uncle to Stella Esmeralda…, Mia, Waffles and the Boyzzz, Double and Trouble. But before dogs there was Malcolm—the family cat he loved to cradle and later Carol’s Maybe and Pearl. And, for nearly 30 years, he was an unwavering and steadfast life-partner and best friend to Toni Ritchie, his wife.
Bruce was so loved.
Bruce was a good man—a man who always tried to do the “right” thing as he saw it; to do better and be better every single day. He achieved that. He grew emotionally over his lifetime, through all the experiences he had. Through hardships, set-backs and come-backs. He grew in resilience, maturity, and compassion. He learned by accepting help and giving it. He made a difference to our world in many ways, directly and indirectly.
Bruce was a sensitive, multi-dimensional and complex person. He was passionate and well-informed about many things. A ravenous reader. He liked to get his way with things and was tenacious about it. Boy was he tenacious. He was remarkably kind and thoughtful of others. So much so, that many people went out of their way to help him with his projects. He loved doing that work because it brought him closer and shoulder-to-shoulder with friends and good people that he appreciated and respected. He needed to be part of a strong, functioning team and thrived where he found one.
He built and nurtured genuine and enduring friendships with people from every age and stage of his life. He always advocated for The Underdog and was deeply moved and inspired by stories of people’s triumph over adversity—especially in sport.
For Toni, Bruce was a true champion and a consistent source of strength and stability. Many other people have already volunteered how much they felt Bruce was ‘there’ for them, too.
Bruce was a huge “puppy lover”. He always had an open lap for the canines he met. “Bruce needs a dog,” said Jack and Jan. His Cousins by marriage, Alice and Ed, thought he was a natural with dogs and that he “should have been born with a dog in his pocket”. Dogs felt it. Bruce was the most fully himself when he was with dogs—when he could give and receive everything. He cherished his own pups–and everyone else’s. He truly fathered three. He was patient with the challenging and sick April. He profoundly mourned the early loss of cherished Miller. Then went on to find and adopt his second ‘Beautiful, Big Boy”, Fergus. He build a significant fence to keep Fergus safe and tag-teamed with Toni on a two-year and three-month process to build a Peaceable Kingdom between Fergus and April. Bruce celebrated their triumph when they came together.
For other fun…
Bruce played hockey, football, men’s league baseball and…golf. Golf was his favourite sport of all and he was a real student of the game through his entire life.
As a younger person, Bruce caddied to buy his first set of clubs, one club at a time. He rode the bus to the local course. He used the school yard to practice. He built a green at home and regularly mowed ‘crop circles’ as landing zones to practice his chipping. Later, with friends and with Toni, he took many golfing trips through BC and in parts of the US, creating memories that far surpassed the beautiful courses he appreciated. In the last few years, Bruce found a golfing home and kinship as a weekday member at Victoria Park in Guelph and played nearly every weekday. He continued working on his game and practiced in the simulator every weekday during the winter. He also gained knowledge and kinship with other golf enthusiasts on TGN (Toronto Golfnuts Forum) under the screen name, Man From Moffat.
One of the last books Bruce bought was Rotella’s The Unstoppable Golfer. That was Bruce. For him, golf was a serious game he wanted to play well, but also a vehicle for making, deepening and maintaining many extraordinary, lifelong friendships he valued so much.
Bruce was cremated wearing a fine golf outfit from head to toe to the tip of his left hand.
Bruce’s life can be well represented by 5 Rings he wore or carried right up to his passing. His…
1. Martin Grove Collegiate Institute Ring
2. University of Waterloo Graduation Ring
3. The Iron Ring of Professional Engineers
4. Home Key Ring
5. Wedding Ring
Bruce’s Martin Grove Collegiate Institute Ring
In middle and high school, Bruce was an iron-pumping, leather-wearing, motorcycle-rocking jock with brains–real brains. He graduated an Ontario Scholar, scored in the 99% percentile in the Quantitative portion of the GMAT and the 97% on the Qualitative section. Yowza! Who does that? People saw his passion for math and encouraged him. He frequently expressed how deeply indebted he was to Misters Rushby and Mastraconi, who, in particular, helped to encourage him toward engineering and reinforced his analytic aptitude. Later in life, he was even called The Energy Numbers Guy.
Bruce felt, first-hand, the pivotal role of teachers and showed his admiration to the many people in his life involved in education and coaching. Bruce was fully convinced that having the right teacher or coach can change the trajectory of our lives. This showed up in so many of the things he supported directly but also indirectly. This included enabling and supporting Toni to do time-consuming Girl Guiding and mentoring work to help others develop. Bruce championed the beneficiaries, too, even though this meant it took Toni away from him.
Bruce was grateful to so many people who guided him and supported him and made the effort to understand him. He held several key mentors in very high esteem (Chuck Wong, John Witherspoon and Darwin Gillies).
Bruce’s University of Waterloo Graduation Ring
While Bruce intended to play varsity football and study engineering, he made the tough decision to focus on academics. He earned his BSc in Mechanical Engineering graduating from the co-op program in 1987 while working and taking out personal loans to pay for his education. He used foundational technical principles and resources gained at UW throughout his career. He also formed many cornerstone friendships there—including the friendship that eventually introduced him to Toni and their 30-year partnership.
Bruce’s Iron Ring—a reminder of the Engineering Oath he exemplified
Professionally, Bruce worked as a P. Eng., in the energy field, adding more credentials after graduating: CEM, CMVP, CIGC. He worked for Ontario Hydro, Consumers Gas and several consulting companies before building an independent practice. Bruce had a rare breadth and depth of understanding.
The Calling of the Engineer was perfectly suited to Bruce’s character and basic nature. Bruce had a “Guardian” personality-type. Bruce was a brave—and frequently singular—voice on many issues of justice and was a provocative questioner. He was usually right. He was proud to position himself as an “Owner’s Engineer”.
“Engineering is a noble profession that requires accountability and humility… [Engineers are] held to high standards in order to protect public safety. Bruce’s actions were congruent with these ideas and his professional vow to do “everything possible to protect public safety, practice legally and ethically, and uphold the honor of the engineering profession.”1
This explains a lot about who Bruce was and what motivated him. Why he could be so dogged. His positions where often anchored on bedrock values and principles. He upheld his Engineer’s Obligation even when it was harder to do so, than not. That is true integrity.
In the Ontario energy field, he marshalled his intelligence, numeracy, and courage to protect the public, ensure the transparency of previously hidden facts and achieve a fair balance of information for people. Bruce used his knowledge and profile to hold Ontario’s government to account and, as a citizen intervener, he even helped change energy practices in the favour of the consumer. He was frequently consulted by media and was called on to provide expert-level testimony.
Appropriately, “the [iron] ring is designed with many sharp facets as a symbol to the engineer of his or her obligation and humility.”1 Bruce fulfilled that on both counts. His family will honour the custom that his ring be returned when its Engineer passes away or pass it on to a next generation practicing P. Eng. Bruce would love the symbolism behind the practice that an “experienced” iron ring can then be passed on to a newly-graduated engineer to carry on the tradition”1
It will be hard for us to return this special ring that he was so proud to wear. It helped define him; but he would want this. And Engineers please take note: he never divulged the details of the Iron Ring Ceremony.
Bruce’s Home Key Ring
Home was where Bruce’s heart was—without question. He like to hang out with his ‘peeps’ (family, dogs and friends) more than anything. He joked that he lived like a farmer, early to bed and early to rise. He made an awesome brunch. Did most of the family shopping and loved the research process. He spent hours on his lawns.
He enjoyed his semi-rural home and property—especially after playing a critical role to get funding for the rural highspeed broadband service with a team that become great friends. Many people in rural Milton are indebted to Bruce if they are working and learning from home.
He was also Bruce the [Rough Carpentry] Builder:
Bruce designed and co-built a small country barn, but solo prepped the rebar for the slab to ‘perfection’. It was so good the pourers said it would support a Tank. They were not joking. Those were Bruce’s “NPC” (nuclear proof construction) standards. Bruce designed and co-built two decks–measuring three times, cutting once. The first one probably helped close a lightning fast, private sale on our first house. It was so beautiful! He didn’t cut corners on anything he did. The barn survived two ice-storms that took out much around it. His work pant pockets were always filled with a collection of weird little bits and fasteners and he’d add these to the bytes on the kitchen table where he most often worked.
He built rough furniture and novel storage solutions. He even designed and co-lead a volunteer team to build a full tack room for Toni’s riding barn. He was ever proud that he designed a unique, ergonomic sliding saddle rack he dubbed The Lobster Trap. He probably could have had it patented. And he took joy in helping others with their projects, as well.
This spring he realized a domestic dream to learn how to make apple pie, like his mother. It looked great, tasted great and he was thrilled to learn the tricks of the trade. He was at version 6.0 before he passed-away and would have kept experimenting if he’d had more time. Ever the Optimizer. He didn’t have time to learn how to sew, but he wanted to. Such an interesting man.
While Bruce was always a serious boy, he could also dial it back and play Robot with the kids or laugh ‘til he cried with family and friends. Bruce definitely had a soft side, including stepping up when animals needed a home, caretaker or special care. Not everyone got to see this side of Bruce, but it was there for those who took the time to look for it.
Bruce’s Wedding Ring
Bruce truly did love, honour and cherish his wife, Toni… for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…‘til death do us part. He lived the advice the Minister gave him during his practice vows that the secret to a successful marriage was communication, affection and forgiveness. He found a way to show respect, appreciation, and encouragement of his life-partner even while her journey was sometimes rocky, demanding and emotionally consuming. He patiently propped her up and never stopped believing in her. He shared her so others could benefit and was always thinking about ways to make things go smoother for her. It was a good partnership. She was a lucky woman. And what she achieved would have been so much harder –or even impossible–without him by her side. He was modest about all that, too: “that’s my job,” he’d say.
In the end…
Bruce had many family-inherited health risks, but his death has been a shock to all of us. He wasn’t ready to go. Nor were we ready to see him off. But he passed-away quickly, at home with Toni and the dogs. He was surfing the internet, sending emails, Tweeting—sharing more gobsmacking political fodder with his ‘list’ and followers—shortly after speed-walking a round of golf. He always lived the way he wanted. And he “went” out exactly the way he would have wanted.
We are so saddened that our time with Bruce has been cut short. He would want us all to love without reservation, snuggle with our animals, share how we feel about each other, be thoughtful and go deep with our friendships. We will miss our spirited conversations with Bruce, his encyclopedic knowledge and subtle insights, his (sometimes) quirky humour, and his frequent email volleys—his presence in our hearts and minds. We will miss having more time to see him continue to mature and grow.
We were all fortunate to know this sensitive, big guy and were lucky to have a place on his road of life. We will all notice the absence of the undeniable presence and big smile that Bruce brought to a room.
NO Service, but please add your comments and pictures:
We’ve decided there will not be a service or any large gathering and after thoughtful discussion among Bruce’s closest family, who came quickly to his home the day he died and stayed with him until he left. We don’t want to put any of you who cared for Bruce at risk of COVID. Instead, and in keeping with the way Bruce liked to socialize, we will be hosting smaller, more intimate common-interest groups among those who wish to assemble to remember him.
In keeping with the social media animal Bruce became, please share your remembrances of him and any pictures below. Read others’ comments to understand this man, if you so choose. How did Bruce Sharp touch your life?
Bruce greatly valued your PRESENCE in his life, not your presents. Yet, should you wish to make a gesture to memorialize him, the family would be so appreciative if you would help to build the Bruce Sharp P. Eng Memorial Engineering Bursary presented by the University of Waterloo. This will help other other brilliant, courageous people from modest means study and succeed in mechanical engineering, in their lives and make a difference in the world. The link to the UW Bursary page is here: waterloo.imodules.com/brucesharp
Bruce is gone way too soon but his legacy can carry on.
And, now, a final gift to YOU… from Bruce
In his heart, Bruce was more sweetness than not. He became famous for his Chocolate Chip Cookies. Family, friends, colleagues, and clients have enjoyed them for more than 30 years. He optimized his recipe and process and could bang off a batch in minutes. And, in all those years, never once did he deny someone who asked for his recipe. So here it is. drive.google.com/file/d/1rv4SKC4nqz6lKE6Fqdgu7uJg0h97IMuH/view And here is his cookie engineering secret: Use trays with an air gap and rotate them between racks mid-way through the bake time. Really, these details make a difference.
Please bake a batch of Bruce’s cookies in your home to share with those you love. Pour a glass of milk, serve them warm and toast him. And every time you enjoy them, please think of Bruce and his sweetest nature. Bruce mattered and made a difference to the world in his short 57 years. But, most importantly, he mattered to us.
~ Toni Ritchie
August 9, 2020
1.The Ritual of the Iron Ring and the Secret Iron Ring Ceremony:
Our most sincere sympathies to the family and friends of Bruce Andrew Sharp Tuesday August 4th 2020..
Death notice for the town of: Guelph, Province: Ontario