It is with great sadness that I write about the passing of Dr. Bruce D. Heald, a well known Lakes Region personality, New Hampshire historian, teacher and mentor for many employees of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Corporation. His tenure with the company dates back to 1965.
I've known Bruce for over 30 years. He was my deck officer when I was a young, naive deckhand aboard the M/S Mount Washington back in my college days. Growing up as a fourth generation island resident of Bear Island, I thought I knew a lot about the "Big Lake" back then. After all, I grew up hearing great stories about the early days of boating and island living from my father, uncles and cousins. Bruce, however, educated me far beyond my provincial wisdom and opened my eyes to just how big this lake was. As a history minor in college I was fascinated with all the information being fed to me back then.
Dr. Heald has been the chief purser for the Winnipesaukee Flagship Company for over 50 years. His early associations with fellow employees such as Ed LaVallee, Brian Avery and Bob Murphy, afforded him the most fortunate opportunity to interview these people and bridge a divide between yesteryear and today. By so doing he was able to pass on a very interesting recording of facts, figures, folklore and legend about not only the islands' mail service history but also the history of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Company and the area it serves. His many books about the Lakes Region area capture the Yankee genuineness of longtime summer traditions and impart the significance of what it means to be a summer visitor or resident. His books are a most enjoyable read for anyone who wants to know about many of the islands' history and lake's folklore.
Bruce's personality was inspiring. He welcomed our passengers aboard with a robust "All Aboard" and then personally greeted everyone who boarded. His interaction with the passengers always left them with a memorable impression; so much so that many would come back year after year looking specifically for him.
How do you say goodbye to such an admirable person who touched so many lives with his wit, charm and compassion; taught many in a way that made that person want to learn more and exuded such a positive outlook on life? I'm not sure I can find the exact words. All I can simply say is, "Farewell my friend and thanks for being part of my life."
(Captain Jim Morash is Chief Operating Officer of the Winnipesaukee Flagship Company.)
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