‘We will see him again,’ family, friends of Bruce Wood assured.
HALIFAX — Family, friends and fellow firefighters said goodbye to the man many knew as “Wood Duck” on a raw and rainy spring morning Friday, April 17.
The hearse carrying 43-year Halifax Fire Department veteran Bruce Wood, escorted by Halifax police and fire vehicles, passed the Town Cemetery — where he would be laid to rest — and under a giant American flag suspended from a HFD aerial ladder, on its way to a funeral service in Halifax Congregational Church. The department formed an honor guard to escort Wood’s casket into the church where an hour-long visitation preceded his funeral.
“Every Sunday and every Wednesday without fail, Bruce would stand and sing the songs that we’re going to sing today,” said the Rev. Joseph Wadsworth in his greeting to the mourners crowding the sanctuary. “He would sing with joy in his heart, conviction in his soul and a smile on his face.”
Two hymns, “Saved By The Blood” and “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” opened the service, which was closed with “Amazing Grace” and “On Eagle’s Wings.”
A celebration of his life, Wood’s funeral service honored his evangelical commitment to Christ as much as his humor and love for duck hunting and motorcycles.
“Growing up we called him anything,” his sister Beth Wood recalled with a smile as she recalled his first “cycle” — an old Vespa scooter he obtained when he “felt the need for speed.”
“At that time, we called him Easy Rider, Hell’s Angel, he loved it because he thought he was going fast” around area bogs, she said fondly. “The name Wood Duck came along, thanks to his hunting friends.”
“As there is a species of waterfowl called wood ducks, and Wood was a good shot who loved duck hunting, so a nickname was born. But this was a man known more for his dedication to faith than his recreational pursuits,” she added.
“After Chris passed away, my brother changed, and changed for the good,” she said. “He refound his faith in God. He was happier. He even smiled even more, if you can imagine.”
Several members of the clergy and friends spoke of how Wood’s rededication to his faith helped him cope with the death of his only son Christopher, who was killed in a motorcycle crash in 2009 at age 21.
“I believe God saw his good works and need him to come home,” Beth Woods concluded. “My brother was right with God.”
The Rev. Henry “Hank” Belcher, retired from Silver Lake Chapel in Plympton, described Wood’s return to faith following his son’s death.
“I guess I was one of the lucky ones, I knew Bruce when he was a kid,” Belcher said, describing him as a typical boy before talking about the call he received from Wood about his son’s death.
“He loved his son very much — he loved all of you very much,” Belcher said. “At the end of the [son’s funeral] service he said, ‘Hank, I’m going to come to church.’ That was a shocker.
“He came to church, and he came every Sunday,” he said joyfully. Belcher even gave Wood a Bible when he said he didn’t have one.
“He read it and he became a different person,” Belcher recalled. “He was a loving soul — he loved everybody.”
When Belcher retired, Wood decided he needed to find another church and on Belcher’s advice to pray about it, found Bible Baptist Church in Hanson. Belcher also encouraged Wood in his decision to become the Halifax Fire Department chaplain.
“Bruce is gone, but his memory will never be gone,” Belcher said. “God has given us a wonderful gift — we are walking computers. We have memories, and I pray the memories we have of Bruce will carry us through the days ahead of us. We will see him again.”
Pastor Mike Fernandez of Bible Baptist Church, where Wood was a member at the time of his death, said in his sermon, “Bruce was a straight-shooter,” with an assignment.
“He was praying he’d get everybody in the church one day,” Fernandez said. “Well, Bruce, here you are. … Right now, Bruce’s death is doing the work of an evangelist.”
It was also the work he did in life, handing out Gospel tracts, inviting people to church, praying for them and witnessing about Jesus.
“Bruce had the spirit of God inside him.” Fernandez said.
Fellow Bible Baptist Church member Peter Flores honored his friend as a “man of integrity — an honest man.”
Wood’s friend Harry Anderson remembered Wood’s smile under a giant black mustache when they first met each other in the 1970s.
He told of how Wood helped him impress his future wife with an airplane ride to view foliage, as well as their spring break adventure in Key West, Fla., and a winter hunting misadventure in the Berkshires.
Anderson, too, spoke of Wood’s spiritual rebirth after his son’s death.
“He was a better man for it,” he said.
After the service, mourners escorted Wood’s casket back under the flag, as it billowed in the breeze, to graveside services at Halifax Town Cemetery.