G. Bruce Fossum Obituary

Service Information

 
In Memory of

G. Bruce Fossum

January 16, 1928 - March 12, 2014
Obituary

Bruce Fossum Bruce was born in Ashland, Wisconsin, near the shores of Lake Superior, on January 16, 1928 to Grover Ole and Myrtle Terese (Yderstad) Fossum. He is survived by his loving wife Mary, four children, Terry, Kathryn, Bob and Bill, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. His athleticism was obvious at a young age, and he also sang harmony in the Lutheran church with his 3 surviving sisters, Jean Fritzer of Ross, California, Corrine Miller of Madison, Wisconsin, and Janice Chase of Denver, Colorado. His father taught him how to hunt and fish, and Bruce had a lifelong love of the great outdoors. He was blessed as an...
Bruce Fossum

Bruce was born in Ashland, Wisconsin, near the shores of Lake Superior, on January 16, 1928 to Grover Ole and Myrtle Terese (Yderstad) Fossum. He is survived by his loving wife Mary, four children, Terry, Kathryn, Bob and Bill, 10 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild.
His athleticism was obvious at a young age, and he also sang harmony in the Lutheran church with his 3 surviving sisters, Jean Fritzer of Ross, California, Corrine Miller of Madison, Wisconsin, and Janice Chase of Denver, Colorado. His father taught him how to hunt and fish, and Bruce had a lifelong love of the great outdoors. He was blessed as an athlete, winning 12 letters as an Ashland High School "Oredocker", achieving All-State status in basketball and football, as well as participating in track and field, and tennis. He was also an honor student and active in student government. Bruce knew he wanted to teach and work with young people. His high school coach Roy Melvin encouraged this desire, and had him working with 7th and 8th graders during his high school years. Said Melvin, "You're good at it! If you want to, you should go into it." And did he!
Bruce attended the University of Wisconsin on a partial basketball scholarship, working many jobs to support himself during his college years. He did a short stint in the Naval Reserves, being stationed on Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, then returned to finish school, being a part of Wisconsin's only Big Ten title in 1947. He coached his schools Freshman team during his Senior year, getting his first real chance at coaching. He graduated in 1950 with a degree in Physical Education and a minor in Science.
Straight out of college he got a jobs teaching and coaching at West Bend High School in Wisconsin, which he did for 3 years until, in 1953, when he received an offer from Green Bay West High School to teach and coach their basketball and golf programs. During his six year tenure, West High won it's first ever conference championship, as well as making the State Finals. Bruce's greatest contribution, though, was the development and implementation of a true basketball "program", working with 4th-8th graders in various capacities, encouraging and organizing early instruction, and nurturing young people through the game he loved. He left West High a legacy that cannot be overstated.
Also in 1953, Bruce was at a Green Bay golf club and was introduced to a local golfer, Mary McMillin. The two would later marry, and together enter golf history through their affiliation with Michigan State University.
In 1959, Bruce was offered a post as Assistant Basketball Coach, as well as a teaching position, at Michigan State. With Mary's support, he gladly accepted. "It turned out to be a wonderful move on both of our parts", Bruce would later say. In 1965, Head Coach Forddy Andersen was fired, and Bruce was in line for a couple of coaching jobs. It was then that Athletic Director "Biggie" Munn offered him the post of Head Golf Coach at the University. Having caddied from age 11, coaching the golf team at West High, and not being a bad golfer himself, Bruce was faced with the decision between pursuing a future for the game that had been his passion, or a whole new career running a golf program. Fossum remembered, "I was having breakfast with my minister one morning and he said, 'What have you been doing your whole life?'. I said 'Teaching'. My minister replied 'Well, is there any question in your mind? Take the golf thing." Bruce took the position that he would hold until 1989. He would say, "Nothing but good came out of it."
Many accomplishments and accolades would follow over the years. He was very proud of developing the very first college summer program for young golfers, a tradition that remains today. He chaired the NCAA Golf Committee from 1971-75, and was President of the Golf Coaches Association of America from 1977-79. Bruce created the Spartan Invitational in 1966, which was later named after him, and which was added to the College Golf Foundation/Rolex Golf Tour list of tournaments. He helped Mary develop her own program after she was hired as the Women's Coach in 1973. Mary says it's a job she never would have taken without his guidance. He authored "Golf Made Easier....Not Easy" in 1989 which sold 25,000 copies. He was inducted into the Golf Coaches Hall of Fame in 1985, and the Michigan Golf Hall of Fame in 2007.
After his retirement in 1989, Bruce's passion for teaching remained for the rest of his life. He gave countless lessons, helping golfers of all levels develop and maintain a love for the game. His Senior Golf Clinics were a staple at The Dome for years. He took part in many charity events as a player and a speaker. Retirement also allowed him to rekindle his love of trout fishing and communing with nature that was such a large part of his early childhood. He was also an avid gardener, Spartan sports enthusiast, and loving patriarch to his family. He positively impacted thousands of people throughout his career. He will be greatly missed.
Memorial visitation will be held on Monday, March 17 from 2pm to 4pm and again from 6pm to 8pm at Gorsline Runciman Funeral Home, 1730 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing. The memorial service will be held on Tuesday, March 18 at 11am at The People's Church, 200 W. Grand River Ave., East Lansing.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made the the Bruce Fossum Memorial Fund at the M.S.U. Federal Credit Union, 1775 Central Park Drive, Okemos, Michigan 48864.

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"Bruce Fossum? To me he was the epitome of what a coach and gentleman should be. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him." Grady Peninger (Okemos, MI)

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