Bruce Murray has always been a bit of a contrarian; not one for following norms, opting instead to sample a life of variety, and forge his own unique path of adventure.
Born in 1940 and raised in Vancouver, Bruce finished high school and went on to attend UBC – taking an unprecedented seven years to obtain a degree in physical education.
“Eventually the had to throw me out with my bachelor’s degree,” he said with a chuckle, from his suite at AgeCare’s Harmony Court Estate in Burnaby. “I was busy enjoying myself with friends, being on committees and what not … I’m a very social person.”
After graduating, Bruce worked as a camp director for the Boys and Girls Club, and sampled a variety other career paths, including a training program in Gestalt Therapy. None of these endeavours captivated him, so Bruce continued merrily on his way, searching for other experiences to satisfy his restless spirit.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do back then – but I knew what I didn’t want to do – settle down and get married like everyone else,” he said.
Instead Bruce set off on some traveling adventures, beginning with World Expo in Japan, and going on to Hong Kong, Singapore and eventually to Australia, where he worked in the Mount Isa Mines in the Queensland region.
“Travel was a real highlight for me,” he said. “It opened my eyes and gave me a huge variety of fun and interesting experiences.”
At 30, Bruce was finally ready to settle down and he got married and welcomed two sons, Skigh and Steven. “I’m very proud of my sons,” he said. “One is a detective for the Vancouver Police and the other is an investment broker working in London, England. I also have three grandchildren, a girl and two boys – one born just four days ago.”
During the next few decades of his life, Bruce continued to sample a variety of careers, including a stint as a realtor, a job in sales at a machine shop, and a marketing role in a company that sells promotional items such as clothing, hats, jackets and pens.
Today, at 76, Bruce is semi-retired and enjoying an unconventional marriage to his second wife Sue, who doesn’t live with him at Harmony Court Estate, but resides in the condo they own together nearby.
“Sue is 16 years younger than me and she still works full time in her own business out of our home,” he said. “I was always under foot – so we decided I’d move into this retirement community and we’d carry on that way – married of course, but living apart. I see or speak to her everyday. It works very well for us,” he said.
As for his experience in a retirement living setting, Bruce says, “I’m just a youngster here in Harmony Court Estate, and I like it very much. I enjoy the people and the food, and all the amenities are great.” While he is aware that the facility offers a full range of in-house programs and activities, at this point Bruce doesn’t have time for many, as he still drives to outside activities and dabbles in his work, selling promotional clothing and items.
“I still haven’t found my career – I’m hoping to find it before I pass away,” he said with a laugh. Bruce also admits that his works helps fund his retirement lifestyle, as he missed out on the pension and savings plans that come with traditional jobs.
Bruce will tell you he has no trouble meeting and talking with people wherever he goes, and he tends to get along with everyone he meets. “I walk along the halls and when I see someone with a frown on their face, I say why aren’t you smiling?” Right away they perk up! “In my view, life is not worth living if you’re not happy.”
Bruce has also been invited to join the resident council at Harmony Court Estate. “I’ll enjoy doing this,” he said, “I’m vocal and I have people’s best interest at heart.”
When asked what words of wisdom he might like to offer others about living well, Bruce sums it up in a few simple words.
“It’s all about having a good outlook that’s all. Just smile and live a happy life.”
Pat Fream is a wife, mother and 30-year writer with extensive experience in the human services industry. In all avenues of life, Pat seeks opportunities to hear and tell stories and finds joy in the magic of connecting people with shared experiences. An impassioned fan of seniors, Pat draws wisdom and inspiration from her aging parents and their friends, many of whom are living well in vibrant senior communities.