CENTERBURG — Robert C. Bruce Jr., Sergeant Major (Ret), Ohio Army National Guard, died Friday, June 15, in Ashland County.

A memorial services will be held Sunday, June 24, at 7 p.m. at Gresser Funeral Home, 415 N. Elm St., Orrville. Father Stephen will be officiating. Robert will be interred at Western Reserve National Cemetery near Rittman at 12:45 p.m. on Monday, June 25.

The family will receive friends and relatives from 5-7 p.m., Sunday, June 24, prior to services at the funeral home. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Robert’s honor to and the United Service Organization (USO) at

Online expressions and guest book registry are available at the funeral home web page,

Robert was born Jan. 18, 1964, in Cleveland to Col. Robert Charles Bruce Sr., and Catherine (McCabe) Bruce. A three-year football letterman, Robert graduated from Stow High School in 1982. After graduation, Robert proudly served his country for 33 years in the Ohio Army National Guard. He married his wife, Denise Washburn in 1988, and together gave birth to their daughter, Brianna Bruce, in 1989. Robert was promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major in 2005, leading the Ohio National Guard’s Regional Recruiting and Retention Office after serving as Area Manager, Strength Maintenance Specialist, and a tank commander in the 107th Armored Cavalry Regiment. He earned a Bachelor of Arts from DeVry University in 2012, and a Master of Business Administration and Master of Public Administration in 2013. As a dedicated and exemplary American, Robert continued his career in public service after retirement in 2013 by working for the Defense Logistics Agency. Robert was an avid outdoorsman who loved spending time with his family and friends at his campsite in Wooster. A loyal husband, a caring father, and a compassionate friend, Robert personified all the best qualities of a public servant and will be missed by all those fortunate to be touched by his presence.

He is survived by his wife of 30 years, Denise; their daughter, Brianna; his son-in-law, Alex; his father, Colonel Bruce; his step-mom, Dee Dee; his mother-in-law, Marcella Washburn; his sister, Diane (Dave) Hasslinger, and their children, Ryan McCann (Kelsey), Kathryn Milburn (Gunnar), Tara Castro (Aaron), Megan Estep (Landon), David, Andrea, Jillian McCann and Michael; his sister, Trish (Lacy) Strickland, and their daughters, Ashley Stewart (Trevor) and Brittany Rodziewicz (Andy); and his brother, Michael (Sara) and their children Kelly and Samuel.

He is preceded in death by his mother, Catherine (McCabe) Bruce, and his father-in-law, John Washburn.


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