The funeral of the well-known former Stornoway-based Harris Tweed manufacturer Bruce Burns took place on Tuesday March 14th in St Columba's Church, Lewis Street, Stornoway.
The family have kindly allowed the republication of the eulogy which was read by Rev William Heenan for Bruce Burns at his funeral.
"Bruce was born in Western Australia in 1930 in a small place named Bruce Rock near Perth. His family returned to Scotland when he was aged five and eventually settled in Joppa, Edinburgh and Bruce then attended George Watson's school where his love of rugby and choral singing first flourished.
"After leaving school he spent some time in the Merchant Navy but in 1950 he came to live in the island to work with his father on building up the family tweed company. From pushing a wheelbarrow full of tweed for finishing round the mills in those early days, he went on to shape and influence the industry as one of its foremost leaders for over 40 years, where he earned the respect of those who worked with him for the passion, drive and commitment which were his hallmark.
"Although much of his time was taken up by his career in the tweed business, he was a member of the golf club, an active member of the Probus club and one of the founders of the Stornoway Rugby Club.
"However, his first love was always music, and particularly singing, and his glorious tenor voice will be much missed in the Church choir and the Stornoway Singers. Bruce joined St Columba's choir in 1950 and it was there in 1957 that he first met his wife Janet and they then married in 1963.
"Through Janet he competed at the Mod and with the Lochs Choir, winning medals in solo, duet and quartet competitions and it has to be said that it was his beautiful singing voice that won those competitions rather than his rather dubious command of Gaelic. To the end Bruce loved his singing and even appeared as a Pirate of Penzance at the great age of 85.
"Above all, Bruce was a loving and devoted family man. Whilst his poor time-keeping and chaotic paperwork could sometimes drive Janet to distraction, theirs was a strong, happy and loving marriage for over 50 years.
"He was proud of his two daughters, Carolyn and Gillian, and those qualities which he embodied of integrity, dedicated hard work, consideration for others and a love of spending fun time with his children and grandchildren are the qualities which they will take with them throughout their lives, together with very happy memories of a wonderful husband, father and grandfather.
"Bruce Burns was a regular worshipper in St. Columba’s since 1950, where his strong tenor voice was appreciated by all who heard it. It enriched our worship as with the choir, Bruce helped lead our praise to God each week and often sang both solos and duets, at special services of Praise. Bruce will be missed by us all here in St. Columba’s, but today we give thanks to God for his life and the man that he was, and the impact which he had on so many lives.
"While Bruce was a regular Adherent member of this congregation for over 65 years, he had never publicly professed his faith.
"Following our recent Communion Season a few weeks ago, Bruce expressed to me a desire to declare His love for Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour, and to reaffirm the faith he confessed first as a teenager, prior to going to sea.
"Unable to come out to church, a small service was held in in his home, where together with Janet and some elders, Bruce publicly professed Jesus Christ to be his Saviour and Lord; he did so with conviction, with confidence and with total clarity. The congregation of God’s people rejoiced with Janet and himself even as we were unaware that our newest member would be promoted to glory so soon.
"Bruce passed away very peacefully around lunchtime last Friday, surrounded by those who loved him most, listening to the sound of their singing; to be welcomed into eternity by His Lord and to join with the celestial choirs in worship. While we will miss him, we are thankful to God for having known him and for how he touched us all.
"We assure Janet, Carolyn, and Gillian, Mark and Alan; and his grandchildren: James, Katherine, Rebecca, Jessica, Imogen and Ben; his brother-in-law, Hector, his niece and nephews of our prayers and support in the coming days.
"May your memories of Bruce and the knowledge of his love and faith sustain you in the days ahead."