Bruce Wilson


I was born in San Salvador, El Salvador on December 27, 1951. My father must have been feeling adventurous even after serving in the Pacific in WWII and took his family (two boys and one girl at that point) with him on a civil engineering project there. My mother must have talked him out of staying for we moved to the states shortly after my birth.

I grew up in Chenango Bridge, New York, a suburb of Binghamton. I remember an idyllic setting with lots of places to play. I fear few children nowadays enjoy what I took for granted. The schools were excellent and I developed interests in Science, History, and Music. My family attended an Episcopalian church. My Mother was raised a Presbyterian and my father a Catholic. I think Episcopalian was meant to be a compromise. In March 1967, my father died of a brain aneurysm. My Mother’s Father had moved to Daytona Beach, Florida. Several years before (he attended the Presbyterian Church there) but wasn’t doing well after the death of my grandmother. My brothers and sister were all in college by that point so my mother and I moved to Daytona Beach to take care of him. I graduated from Mainland High in 1971 and went to USF in Tampa as a History major. My draft lottery number was over 300 so I had no fear of being drafted. I wasn’t against the war but I knew enough about it to not want to be involved.

In retrospect, I was rather adrift after my Father’s death and wasn’t very focused. I sometimes wish I had enlisted in something, but I didn’t.

In 1973 I returned to Daytona Beach. I got a job with the News Journal as an Ad Proof Runner. On Wild Olive Street, opposite the auditorium there was the music establishment of Enrico Tamburini who taught cello and repaired all string instruments. I loved hanging out there and getting to know that fascinating man. I was his student and companion for years, of the cello, but also of life. He had quite a story. At this same time, I got taken on at Brass and Reed Music on Mason Avenue in Daytona Beach as an apprentice. In 1977 I took over the shop in the back of Streeps Music which was then in the current location of the Channel 2 office on US 1. I repaired guitars, band and orchestra instruments as well as electric pianos (Rhodes and Wurlitzers). I felt blessed to be in such interesting work but was barely hanging on financially. I had a baby daughter and my wife at the time didn’t work. After Reagan gutted the federal funding of school music programs, business took a dive. Streeps closed on 1984 and I balked at going into debt to open my own store. At any rate, I was getting tired of working inside a shop every day.

I stumbled into the Land Surveying business which was at that time enjoying a boom. I had done some surveying with my Father and I found I enjoyed the combination of technical challenge and moderate physical activity the job offered. I worked for many firms because you must go where the contracts are and I had many adventures in the swamps and woods of Florida. As an example, I particularly liked the sectional breakdown of the townships around Lady Lake which later became “The Villages”.

I had also tried to return to school as an engineering major. I had divorced my wife, sold my house, and raised my daughter at my mother’s house and started classes at DBCC. Much of the time, I would take on about 8 hours a semester while I worked part time doing drafting or field work. I started taking Junior level courses in UCF in 1990. However, I found I couldn’t sustain the effort needed. Basically, I burned out. What I take most from this experience, is the discovery of science. It is in my opinion, the best way to understand what can be observed. But of course, here I am 65 years old with over 300 hours of college credit and no degree! What was I thinking? I guess, I love knowledge for its own sake. What better way to see beyond what can be observed?

Shaunna and I began being an item in 1985. I loved her and her family ever since. As I’m sure she would tell you, I kept her waiting way too long. In 1991, we married and I returned to surveying full time and settled down to normal family life. At this point, I could wax philosophical about the joys and trials of being a husband and a stepfather. I consider it my spiritual focus for many years.

Of course, the housing bubble panic and recession, as well as technical developments, deflated the Surveying profession and I began a personal “time in the wilderness”. Being unemployed and having to reinvent yourself is a deeply spiritual trial akin to mourning. I feel now, if not then, that I was prepared for it. I learned a long time ago that you must bring your passion to whatever you are offered to do. I consider myself fortunate. I currently deliver a paper route and work in your church. This church community has been very kind to me.  I feel I have found more than just a job. I am particularly indebted to Caroline and Babs who have brought me back to music after so many years. Having a voice for an instrument is a joy I discovered because of them. I am so grateful of what I have and what I am still capable of. God has surely blessed me.