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Col (Ret) W. Bruce Wilder

It is with great sadness in our hearts, but the joy and comfort of our faith, that we announce the passing of Col. (Ret) W. Bruce Wilder into a new life on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 at Holston Valley Medical Center. Bruce was born in Page, KY in a log house built by his father. They moved to Kingsport, TN in his early teens and he was a 1955 graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School where his photo can be found in their Hall of Fame. He began his college years at Georgia Tech on a basketball scholarship but transferred to Davidson College where he was also blessed to receive a basketball scholarship. Following graduation and with a young son and wife, Bruce went on active duty in the Army where he spent 28 years flying in service to his country which included 2 combat tours in Vietnam flying attack helicopters. For his actions he received the Silver Star, the Purple Heart, the Distinguished Flying Cross and 2 Air Medal with V Device. He retired in 1987 after serving as Director of Army Aviation Health and Safety.

Following retirement, Bruce attended Gettysburg Lutheran Seminary and upon ordination accepted at call to become the Mission Developer of what is today the growing and vibrant Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church in Haymarket, VA. His last call prior to full retirement was as senior pastor of St. Andrew Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, FL. Bruce never met a stranger and folks were drawn to him everywhere he went. He loved to travel, play card games and work on his book for his boys! He was a very proud recipient of more than one Paul Harris Award and past president of his Kingsport Rotary Club. From his children (biological or step) through 26 grands and 24 ½ great-grands who called him ‘granddad’, he was beloved. We were truly blessed to have been allowed to share his walk. Peace my sweet Bruce ...we love you to the moon and back.

Bruce is survived by his wife, Patricia Wright Patten Wilder; sons, W. Bruce Jr. (Kirsten), R. Shannon, and Mark A. (Christy) Wilder; stepsons, George (Donna), Michael, Joel (Betsy), Steven (Tracey), and Mark Patten; his precious sisters, Barbara Gillespie and Jean (Gerald) Winstead; and many very special nieces and nephews.

A Memorial Service will be planned for March 2022 to honor what would be his 85th birthday.

In lieu of flowers, contributions would be gratefully recognized to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, www.stujude.org/donate, or to the Veterans organization of your choice.

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Bruce was always a joy to talk and interact with. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Bruce and Patti through their Church at Holy Trinity where he was a humble and tireless servant.

David J Hrivnak Sep 22 2021 10:12 AM

Bruce and I were members of the same high school class. We worked on the committee for many class reunions. He was always such a pleasure to work with and made committee work fun. I will surely miss him. My condolences to all the family.
Alan Henderson

W A Henderson Sep 21 2021 7:51 PM

A candle was lit in memory of William Wilder

Natosha Cooper Woods Sep 20 2021 12:09 PM

Dearest Patti and family:
May God wrap you in his loving arms as you face the tragic loss of Bruce's passing. We will always remember how you both were always true friends, offering compassion and help during hard times, and being a source of light and laughter. Bruce was a compassionate, kind and genuine person.
He was the kind of person I aspire to be. We send our love and prayers for you in these difficult times. Love, Sandy and John Hickman

Sandy Hickman Sep 19 2021 1:24 PM

A candle was lit in memory of William Wilder

Wilma Winstead Sep 18 2021 1:19 PM

My heart breaks for your family. Bruce was one of the kindest, generous, caring, giving, and compassionate people I've ever met. He was a blessing to our family when our Mom lost her husband and Bruce led Walter's service. My Mom so enjoyed her friendship with Bruce and Patty - catching up on their early lives in Kingsport, playing bridge, and many lunches and dinners. Bruce touched so many lives and will be so missed. We send our prayers to you and your family. You are all in our thoughts.

Lisa Deyo Sep 18 2021 12:05 PM

To Patti my friend of recent years I send my sympathy for the loss of her exceptionally special husband. To Barbara and Jean , old friends from Dobyns Bennett days, I send my sympathy for losing one who was a loved brother for their entire lives as I well know the pain of losing a sibling. To the other members of their family that I haven't personally met, may you all find comfort in remembering how fortunate you were to have him in your lives . Like you, I will miss him .

Betty Palmer Krywulak Sep 18 2021 11:38 AM

Mr. Wilder will always be a cherished memory of mine. He and Mrs. Patti were always a pleasure and an honor to serve, whether by phone or in person. I enjoyed our talks and especially loved his peanut brittle! We shared the same birthday, just a few years apart, but we laughed often about it. Such a sweet soul. Prayers for the family during this time.

Tanya Quillin, ECU Sep 17 2021 5:32 PM

Bruce is one of the best men I had the pleasure knowing, let alone being related to. He always had a kind word, a smile and could talk for hours. The world lost a great person but his memory will live on.

Matthew Wilder Sep 17 2021 4:46 PM

A candle was lit in memory of William Wilder

Wanda and Jimmy Jones Sep 17 2021 4:06 PM

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