DANBURY, N.C. — Robert Michael Bruce (Mike) passed away on December 10, 2020. He was born in Winston-Salem on October 24, 1942, to the late Luther Columbus Jr. and the late Mary Miller Bruce of Raleigh. He was 78 years of age.
Mike was raised in Winston-Salem and Siler City graduating in 1960 from Jordan Matthews High School where he was a Morehead Scholar finalist. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 1966. Continuing his education, he graduated with a Juris Doctor degree from UNC School of Law and was admitted to the North Carolina State Bar in 1969.
Mike began his legal career in Elizabethtown. He continued in private practice moving to Mount Olive in 1970. In 1977, Mike was appointed Superior Court judge for the Eighth Judicial District by Governor James B. Hunt Jr. and later served as Senior Resident Superior Court judge until 1984. He returned to private practice in Goldsboro from 1985 until relocating to Danbury in 1993. He practiced law there until his retirement in 2019. That same year, he was recognized by the North Carolina State Bar for his 50 years of service.
Mike was a member of the North Carolina League of Municipalities and served as town attorney for both Mount Olive and Danbury. In 2016, Mike was recognized by the town of Danbury for 20 years of service as town attorney.
Mike had an impressive legal career. He was known for being a spirited character, a spokesman for the underdog, and a brilliant litigator. Mike was never one to sit quietly on the sidelines. He provided pro bono legal work for the underserved and gave countless hours of his time and talents to every North Carolina community in which he lived.
Mike was passionate about community service throughout his life. He was named to The Order of the Long Leaf Pine by two different North Carolina governors for his significant contribution to the state and his community.
During his time in Mount Olive, Mike served as president of the Mount Olive Jaycees and legal counsel for the North Carolina Jaycees. He was Chairman of the Wayne County Democratic Party and selected as a delegate to the 1976 Democratic National Convention. Mike was an active member of the First United Methodist Church of Mount Olive and the Southern Wayne High School Booster Club. He was an Assistant Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 200, received an honorary induction into The Order of the Arrow and led an expedition to Philmont Scout Ranch in 1982.
Mike loved his family, especially his grandkids, and took great pleasure in educating them on his numerous passions. He relished the outdoors and marathon cooking events. He frequently led the family on epic camping adventures. In addition to his family, Mike enjoyed spending time with his friends. He cherished the memories of the many beach and fishing trips with his lifelong buddies.
Mike had an extensive knowledge and love of music. He enjoyed playing the guitar and singing. He was an avid reader, astronomer, mathematician, computer programmer, carpenter and Tar Heel sports fan. He was a history buff and served as president of the Fulton Family Ancestry group in Stokes County.
Mike was preceded in death by his grandparents, William Gray and Jennie Atkinson Miller of Siloam, and Luther Columbus Sr. and Bessie Pearl Fulton Bruce of Winston-Salem, and his brother, Dennis Luther Bruce of Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Mike is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen Martin and her children, Andrew John Mathys of Danbury and Lydia Elizabeth (Chad) Henderson of Greenville, South Carolina. He is also survived by his three children: Samantha Bruce McGahey of Clayton, Robert Michael Bruce II of Palm Harbor, Florida, Guinevere Bruce (Mark) Motl of Palm Harbor, Florida, and their mother, Jo Ann Allen Bruce of Dunedin, Florida; his siblings: Branson Key Bruce of Danbury, Mary Virginia Bruce Scott of Richmond, Virginia, and John Stuart Bruce of Raleigh; his sister-in-law, Mrs. Beatrice Sears Bruce of Spartanburg, South Carolina; his grandchildren: Amanda Allen McGahey, Stuart Guyton McGahey, Hannah Leigh Bruce, Robert Michael Bruce III, Nathan Joseph Motl, Lorelei Alley Henderson, and Maeve Pepper Henderson; and many nieces, nephews, and loving cousins.
The family is being served by Burroughs Funeral Home in Walnut Cove.
Condolences may be shared with the family at burroughsfuneralhome.com. While there was nothing Mike enjoyed more than a gathering of friends and family around the kitchen table or on the front porch, a celebration of life service will be held in the spring when we can gather together safely.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to Legal Aid of North Carolina.