Rites Held for Willie Bruce Underwood

Published 1:32 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Willie Bruce Underwood, the son of John Isaac and Mary Bousman Underwood, was born on December 26, 1926 in Martinsville, and passed away on May 19, 2017 at the home of his daughter in St. Albans, Vermont at the age of 90.

He spent the majority of his younger years in Victoria.  At the age of 16, in 1943, Bruce enlisted in the Navy during the second World War.  After the war he attended VPI in Blacksburg, on the GI bill, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering.  Bruce moved to California for work where he met his future wife Mildred Fowler. After 10 years in 1966, he moved his family to Brandywine, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C.  He worked the remainder of his career at Dynatech Labs, where he was the head of research and development.  He designed medical equipment and applied for several patents.  He learned to program on one of the early Apple computers in the late 70’s and remained a loyal Mac user until his death.  In 1985, Bruce and Mickey retired to their farm in Victoria, where he resided for 29 years.  His health required him to move in with his daughter in Vermont in 2014.

Bruce was a “Renaissance man” who had many hobbies.  He played the guitar and banjo.  He bought and flew a small airplane in the late 40’s. He always enjoyed panning for gold in California, and kept a pan behind the seat of his truck.  Bruce would stop at the garnet and emerald mines in North Carolina as well.  There were many camping trips to the National Parks, including deserts and mountains.  He built a chemistry lab in the basement of his Maryland house, where he performed experiments and analyzed rocks and minerals.  In the late 1970’s he and Mickey traveled to many courthouses between Pennsylvania and North Carolina collecting Underwood family records.  He was able to trace his ancestry back to the 1650’s when “Thomas Underwood” sailed from England to Virginia and settled near present day Annapolis, Maryland.  He compiled all of his data and published a book titled “Isaac W. Underwood, His Ancestors and Descendants” in 1988, before you could search Ancestry.com on the internet.  Bruce also built a shop behind his house after he retired and built beautiful antique reproduction furniture, using the skills he learned from his father and brothers.

Bruce is survived by his daughter, Sandra and (Bill) Cristman, son Warren and (Mary) Underwood, two grandsons, Edward and (Elizabeth) Weidner and Will and (Samantha) Weidner.  He has two great-grandsons, Nolan and Adam Weidner and a great-granddaughter, Beckett Weidner, and many nieces and nephews.

Bruce was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Mildred, three brothers, Roy, Ralph and Warren, and four sisters, Nancy Wingfield, Nellie Martin-Wrenn, Edna Walch and Barbara Jean Waddell.

Bruce desired no funeral or service and will be buried next to his wife in Blythedale, Missouri.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Victoria Rescue Squad or the Animal Shelter.