By Jack Kintner
Former Blaine city councilman and 20-year Semiahmoo resident Bruce Wolf was struck and killed by a car while walking his dog near Semiahmoo County Park Sunday, December 21, just before 5 p.m.
Wolf, 73, was with his daughter and son-in-law, Amy and Brad Bearden, and his granddaughter Ava when the dog escaped from its leash and ran onto Semiahmoo Parkway. Wolf followed and was hit from behind by Jeanne Roussellot, 86, of Blaine, who stopped and assisted. She was not cited by investigating officers.
“Bruce was the main force behind a lot of local projects,” said former Blaine city manager Gary Tomsic, “raising money for the Vigil statue downtown, starting the Blaine Jazz Festival (now the Drayton Harbor Music Festival), promoting the restoration of the old road into Semiahmoo as a pedestrian path and so on. But more than the big things he did, I remember that for Bruce, no job was too small or insignificant. He would do whatever it took to get something accomplished, and was a truly humble and optimistic person.”
Wolf had a long career in Alaska as an ophthalmologist, beginning in 1970 in Anchorage for the division of public health and from 1972 until 2000 in private practice in Fairbanks. He often participated in bush clinics, taking his practice into remote areas. His wife Sandy, who frequently went with him on these trips, told of Wolf restoring an old native man’s sight in a small village on remote St. Lawrence Island.
After examining him and roughly determining the prescription, as much an educated guess as anything as the man spoke no English, Wolf rigged a pair of glasses for him, using trial lenses and duct tape. As he placed the glasses on the patient’s head, the old man began bouncing up and down, yelling in Yupik, “Don’t take them away!”
“The old man wouldn’t let Bruce take them off,” said Sandy. “It was really something to see him work his way slowly around the room and see people he’d known all his life for the first time.”
“As far as we know the guy is still running around St. Lawrence Island with the strangest frames in Alaska,” said Wolf’s daughter, Amy Bearden, adding, “That story is why I went into optometry.” Bearden shares a Bellingham practice with her husband Brad.
Wolf was twice elected to the city council but resigned during his second term when diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer that had metastasized by the time he was diagnosed. Bruce survived the cancer and had since returned to relatively good health.
Bruce and Sandy met on a blind date in 1965 while attending the University of Washington Medical School and were married in December of that same year. They had just celebrated their 49th wedding anniversary, she said, by working on building the sets for her musical to be put on next spring in Bellingham.
Wolf is survived by brothers Fred of Reno, Nevada, and Jim of Federal Way, Washington. He and Sandy have four daughters, Amy (Brad) Bearden,Robin (Neal) Nickles, Kelli (John) Sayler and Irene (Lance) Scott, and nine surviving grandchildren. The ashes of a 10th, Logan Scott of Austin, Texas, had been scattered near Sunday’s accident scene just a year ago.
Several hundred people attended a public “Celebration of Life” memorial for Wolf on December 28, in the ballroom at Semiahmoo Resort. The memorial was led by Reverend David Bearden, whose son is married to Wolf’s youngest daughter. Several immediate family members spoke, as well as professional colleagues and friends, including Tomsic and Blaine mayor Harry Robinson. Music was provided by Joe and Mary Kay Robinson, Mary Melquist and Martin Kuuskmann.
Contributions in Wolf’s name may be made to the Drayton Harbor Music Festival or to Bellingham TheaterWorks. A tribute page has been set up at funeralandcremationcare.com/bwolf.
“When someone dies,” Tomsic said, “people often say that the person was a good man. In Bruce’s case, he really was. He was the measure of what a good man is.”