Obituary: Bruce Jack Boersma, Izaak Walton volunteer, dies March 21

Bruce Boersma, who volunteered at Izaak Walton Preserve in Homewood for about four decades and was one of the organization’s longest-serving members, died March 21, 2024.

A plumber by trade, Mr. Boersma was at the helm of setting up the plumbing both inside and outside, contributed to the rebuilding of the chimneys and helped build the fireplace inside the Izaak Walton building. Two of the bays at Izaak Walton’s garage are named after him – Boersma’s West and Boersma’s East – because he helped build them. He planted numerous trees on the property.

Bruce’s son, Brian Boersma, said his father was always the heart of the family. He has childhood memories of riding in his dad’s rowboat and helping him pick up trash from the lakes and along the trails at Izaak Walton. With a nostalgic laugh, he said they’d occasionally find “weird things” and “treasures” in the lake.

“His philosophy was that you’ve got to leave the planet a little better when you leave it than when you arrived. I think that’s why he cared about Izaak so much,” Brian said. “He was always a kind, caring person and treated everyone the same regardless of your position in life.” 

Mr. Boersma was born Sept. 29, 1939, to Sam and Jacoba (nee Norman) Boersma. He was married to Shirley (nee Thomas), and was the father of Elizabeth, Brian (Janne), Brenda (Matthew Maland) and Bradley (Christi), and grandfather to Brandon, Brady, Emerson, Tyler, McKinley and Sicily. He was a brother to Martha, Donald, Gilbert, Katherine, Sam, David and Robert, and uncle to an amazing group of nieces and nephews.

A graduate of Fenger High School and a U.S. Army veteran, Mr. Boersma was a proud plumber by trade (whose family has over 123 consecutive years of Local UA 130 service) and creator and builder of many great works of functional art, including laboratories and hospitals at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. 

Mr. Boersma was far more than a simple plumber. He was a poet, preacher and philosopher, among other roles, by passion and personality. A student of agriculture and cultivator of crops in his cherished garden, he fed souls with his dialogue and discourse of ideas big and small. While not quite completing post-secondary education, Mr. Boersma was one of the brightest, well-read teachers one could know. He was a master craftsman who could build or construct anything. Quick with a smile and slow to judge, he was a friend and mentor to countless people through the years. He cared about his friends and neighbors over himself.

He was buried at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. Donations in his name to Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve would be greatly appreciated. 

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