Bruce Willis Hunt
Bruce Willis Hunt was born on March 6th 1950 to Stanley Ray Hunt and Mary Louise Willis Hunt in Saint Anthony, Idaho, the oldest of 9 children. He was a thoughtful older brother to his siblings, whom he dearly loved. Although afflicted from birth with a heart condition, Bruce often went against the advice to “take it easy” by swimming, wrestling, climbing and playing as young boys do. At age 9 he was one of the first 10 people in Utah to undergo open heart surgery to correct the hole in his heart. His Mom and Grandmothers worried over him and didn’t always let him do the hard work of farming that the other boys were expected to do. Even still, he loved being a tough farm boy. Bruce didn’t ever let his weak heart slow him down or hold him back from enjoying life.
In High School, Bruce joined the swimming team and became an Eagle Scout. After attending Dixie college for a time, Bruce was called to serve in Japan as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Learning Japanese at the Hawaii Missionary Training Center proved difficult. The Hawaii Mission President was in need of two Elders to stay behind. Bruce volunteered. He then served the remainder of his mission in the Islands, much of it on Kauai and the Big Island. He loved the people, the culture and the beauty of the islands of Hawaii. He learned pidgeon english, which he gladly taught to his children as they were growing up. He shared his love for the Polynesian culture with his children every chance he had.
After returning with honor from his mission in Hawaii, Bruce attended college at the University of Utah. During the summer of 1972 at one of the University dances, he met the young and beautiful Jane Hart, who would become the love of his life. Although Jane was a little more hesitant, from early in their courtship Bruce believed that she was the girl that he would marry. A few months later, they were engaged. Jane and Bruce were convinced that their love was meant to be eternal. Bruce and Jane were married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on March 23, 1973.
As they started their family, they settled into an apartment and then bought a home in Magna where they raised their family and have been ever since. Bruce worked as a gas station attendant in Magna and Salt Lake to support their needs. There was a gas shortage at the time, which resulted in the gas station closing and Bruce was laid off three weeks before their first baby was unexpectedly born eight weeks early. No job. No insurance. Early baby. Life became challenging very quickly. Less than 9 short months after their wedding, this tiny premature baby was born and the joys and responsibilities of fatherhood became Bruce’s number one focus in life. Bruce and Jane’s first child, Stephanie, was so tiny at 3 lbs 6 oz that she had to stay in the NICU for 18 days following her birth. They were finally able to bring her home in a red and white stocking on Christmas Day. Thirteen months later, their second daughter, Lillian was also born prematurely weighing 3 lbs 8 oz. With a family to support and tremendous medical bills to pay, Bruce stopped attending college and began working at MagCorp, (a magnesium plant on the western banks of the Great Salt Lake.) Fortunately, both sets of grandparents were nearby to support them and many willing aunts were available to help with the children as the family quickly grew.
God was also watching over this small family. While he was working at MagCorp, he was miraculously protected when a vat of molten salt exploded near him. Molten salt was poured into a vat with a small amount of unnoticed water in the bottom. The vat jumped. The workers fled. As he and others ran from the imminent danger, Bruce tripped and fell to his face just at the moment of the explosion. His back and neck were sprayed with searing hot liquid salt. He received a half-dollar-sized third degree burn on his neck. Although the shirt on his back was burned off of him, his skin was protected by his temple garments which were also unharmed. This miraculous event Bruce and Jane attribute to the grace of God and the protecting power of the Temple Covenants that they had made.
Bruce worked at Kennecott Copper Mine as they welcomed three more children into the family: Louise, Hazen, and Gordon. When Bruce’s job at Kennecott became unstable, he got a new job at Hercules where he would stay for many years. During this time, Bruce also decided to try his hand as an entrepreneur by opening his own chimney sweeping business called, “B & J Chimney Sweeps.” Bruce and Jane both agreed that the main purpose of this business was to teach their children how to work. They taught their children how to answer the phone, make appointments, and do all of the physical aspects of the business as well. With his signature top hat on his head, he would cheerily hand out the business cards which he kept in the hat ribbon, while in the grocery store. He would wear his “top hat and tails” to weddings, wishing the Bride and Groom good luck. Because everyone knows that it is good luck to have a chimney sweep at your wedding. Their final two daughters, Sarah and Eliza were born during these busy and joy-filled years. A favorite family photo shows one of the baby girls swaddled in a small blanket and stuffed into Dad’s top hat.
Bruce felt tremendous satisfaction in being able to provide for his family. His hard work allowed Jane to be able to focus on motherhood. During frequent long drives and camping trips, wrong turns and stops at historical landmarks became known as “taking the fun way” to his kids. Bruce loved to hunt and fish. These adventures were made especially memorable because he loved to bring along his kids and grandkids. He always looked forward to the Hunt brothers’ annual fishing trip. Bruce had a love for learning, especially science and math. This same love for learning, he inspired in his children. Playing the game of chess, learned at the feet of his father Stanley, a Chess Master, was one of his favorite past times. Having someone who would play this strategy game with him thrilled him! He frequently played chess with his dad, brothers, kids, grandkids and neighbors. Bruce’s pride and joy in life came from watching his children succeed in whatever goals they were working towards. He was their biggest cheerleader!
Serving faithfully in his church callings, Bruce worked as a scout master, Elders quorum president and councilor, in the stake young men’s presidency, stake mission presidency, and nursery leader. Bruce was a shining example of Christ-like love. He exemplified the Savior by loving and serving the poor, the needy and the down-trodden. Regardless of their situation in life, he reached out to those in need by giving of his time and his meager possessions. Bruce frequently found and served the homeless or destitute by giving them jobs, shelter, or food. Because of his generosity and his ability to love unconditionally, he had many people who were not blood-related call him Dad, Grandpa, and Brother. Without discrimination or judgement of any kind, he welcomed everyone into his home and life.
Bruce died of congestive heart failure, surrounded by his loved ones, on October 2, 2019. Bruce will be greatly missed by those he left behind! He is preceded in death by his mother and father. He is survived by his wife Jane, step-mother, Joyce Palmer Hunt, siblings Doug (Linda) Hunt, Shirley (Paul) Williams, Lloyd (Tina) Hunt, Robert (Judy) Hunt, Charles (Amparo) Hunt, Julie (Patrick) Lein, Susan (Allan) Campbell, Beverly (Rob) Jafek. He is also survived by his children Stephanie (Fred) Hunzeker, Lillian (Matthew) Scoville, Louise (Danny) McCleve, Hazen (Ruth) Hunt, Gordon (Krystal) Hunt, Sarah (Jess) Bird, Eliza (Dan) Lake, 22 grandchildren, and dozens of “adopted” family members; most notably the Dolly (Cody) Case Family. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, Oct 12th at 10:00 am at the LDS Church on 3084 S 8400 W, Magna UT. Visitation: Friday Oct 11th, 6:00 - 8:00 pm, Peel Funeral Home at 8525 W 2700 S, and Oct 12th, 9:00 - 9:45 am prior to the service.
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