Bruce Measure, 64, died in Kalispell on June 6. Loving father, grandfather, partner, brother, uncle, friend, Bruce also was a skilled attorney and speaker, an expert on energy and water resources, a brilliant thinker and an avid politician.
Bruce was born August 14, 1951 at Kalispell General Hospital, fourth child to Ambrose and Laura Jo Measure. He attended St Matthew’s grade school and graduated from Flathead High School in 1969. He served in the U.S. military from 1971 to 1973 as a military policeman. He earned a two- year degree in Forestry and an undergraduate degree in Political Science and a Juris doctorate from the University of Montana in Missoula where he was elected President of his law school class.
Bruce worked as Forest Resource Manager for the Chippewa Cree Tribe in Box Elder in 1979-80 and Assistant Forest Manager for Plum Creek Timber Co. from 1980 to 1985. He practiced law with his father, Ambrose, at the law offices of Ambrose Measure and after his father’s death as a partner in the firm of Measure, Sampsell, Sullivan and O’Brien.
Bruce’s father Ambrose believed we all owe a debt to our community and the more we are given the larger the debt. Bruce practiced this philosophy with enthusiasm and generosity. He was one of a group of visionaries who looked at the abandoned rail lines in the Flathead Valley and saw, instead of rusted tracks and rotten ties, the foundation for miles and miles of pathways for hiking, biking, jogging, walking and snowshoeing. Bruce did all the legal work for the original organization which achieved phenomenal success as Rails to Trails of NW Montana and currently, and still growing, miles and miles of year round recreational trails.
Because of his work with marginalized communities Bruce was acutely aware of the growing problem of homelessness in the Flathead Valley. Again, together with other young idealists he brainstormed and built the Samaritan House and designed and developed a program of education, training and employment to help keep people housed and employed on a more permanent basis. He also was a member of the Flathead Food Bank Board from 1988 to 1994 and President from 1991-1992.
Always interested and active in resource management Bruce served on the Flathead Electric Coop Board of Trustees from 2002-2003 and as President in 2004. He also served as the representative from Flathead Electric to the statewide cooperative association. In 2004 Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer appointed Bruce to be one of two Montana representatives to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council where he served two four- year terms including two years as Vice Chairman and two as Chair of the Council. At the time of his death Bruce was again a member of the Flathead Electric Coop Board and had recently served as Board President. As always a primary focus for Bruce was to reflect and champion the interests and needs of western Montana.
Bruce was elected and served one term in the 52nd State Legislative Assembly representing House District 6. He was a member of the Kalispell City Government Study Commission in 1995-96 and Hearing Officer and Mediator for the Montana Office of Public Instruction from 1990-2001. He was very proud when he was admitted to practice before Montana State Courts in 1988.
However there is no doubt that his greatest achievement was his son Buckthorne, who with his wife and two children, was indeed the light of his life. Together they hiked every trail, floated every river, the rougher the better, skied Big Mountain, Blacktail and thousands of miles of cross country trails. He set the bar for his younger nieces and nephews in every outdoor activity.
In 2010 he and Barbara and his two grandchildren took the train from Whitefish to the Izaak Walton where he joined Buck and Tara for a weekend of cross country skiing, good eating and foos ball. That first weekend became a great way to spend Super Bowl weekend and for the last six years he was joined by more and more family and friends.
Bruce met Barbara Varnum in 1998 and it was love at first conversation. Bruce introduced Barbara to the great outdoors and they rafted, canoed, biked, hiked and skied their way across the Northwest and Canada.
Bruce worked very hard but he also loved to play. Music was a major love. He had a beautiful voice and for many years played his guitar and sang with friends. He happily bragged about the night he caught a few riffs with Gordon Lightfoot in some out of the way bar in Alberta. Bruce loved to play tennis and Friday afternoons with the Kennel Club were the highlights of his week. The only other events he attended so regularly were his grandchildrens’ soccer matches.
Bruce is survived by his son Buckthorne and his wife Tara and their two children, Rhett and Maggie; his longtime partner, Barbara Varnum and her daughter Michelle Lloyd and son Chance Isles, and daughter Katie Leahy and husband Ryan Leahy and their two children, Brayden and Keely; his former wife Ann Van Twest and her mother Winifred Storli, brothers Grimm Storli and Christopher Van Twest and partner Joan Campbell; his sister Loraine Measure and her children, Daren and Jody Bundrock and their son Silas Bundrock, Steve and Tamera Bundrock and their sons Atle and Ayrton Bundrock, and Lori Bundrock and her partner Michelle Douglas and their son Clay Douglas.
He is also survived by his brother Edward Measure and wife Rorie of Los Cruces, New Mexico and their sons, Alexander Measure and Eric Measure; his sister Suzanne O’Connor of Bozeman and her son Scott O’Connor and his sons Shacotta O’Connor and Jack Ambrose O’Connor and her daughter Erin O’Connor. Bruce is also survived by his Aunt Alice Forhan and by many cousins and their families and by all the members of the Kennel Club and by hundreds of other friends and acquaintances, all of which loved him and will miss him terribly.
Bruce’s exploits on the ski hill and the hiking trail, white water rafting and mountain biking will be grist for great stories for a lot of years. Always brilliant, most often funny, Bruce fought the cancer that killed him with the same ferocity that he lived all of his life