Rev. R Bruce Pate (retired) joined the Church Triumphant on January 27, 2024 at the age of 95. Bruce was born on January 3, 1929 in the small community of Institute in Lenoir County, NC.
After graduating from Wheat Swamp High School, Bruce entered Duke University, where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in history and then a 3-year Bachelor of Divinity. Following graduation, he served for 40 years as a United Methodist minister in the NC Conference of the United Methodist Church. He retired with his wife, Jean, from active pastorate in July 1994 to Lake Junaluska, NC. Bruce embodied the example of Christ through his kindness, caring, and service to others. His main area of focus was prison ministry. In 1984, he was awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, the highest civilian award in NC, for his years of leadership in the area of criminal justice. He served as a member of the Board of Directors of Yokefellow Prison Ministry of NC from 1984-2015, after which he continued to serve as an emeritus member. He also ministered to the prison population through his work with Kairos Prison Ministry. Bruce was an avid fan of Duke college basketball, and in his seven years at Duke University he never missed a home basketball game (an original Cameron crazy!). He was also a member of the Duke University Glee Club and Chapel Choir. He blessed the many churches he served with his beautiful baritone voice, singing solos such as “The Great Awakening” and a perennial favorite, “The Holy City”. As a student of history, he was a voracious reader and lifelong learner, and he researched and wrote a history of Institute, NC called “A Moment in Time.” He loved to travel, and in 1990, he and Jean traveled to Oberammergau, Germany to see the Passion Play. But he always returned to Lake Junaluska, a place he first visited in the 1950s and to which he came almost every year for vacation & rejuvenation until his retirement there in 1994.
Bruce is preceded in death by his parents, Bernice McCauley Pate & Della Mae Langston Pate,his brother, Herbert William Pate, and his sister, Virginia Pate Lemmons. He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Jean Louise (nee Turner), his two daughters Laura (Joe) and Susan, his two grandchildren Cassidy and Dylan, his caregiver of nine years Nanci Schaefer, and his many nieces, nephews, cousins and extended family.
A celebration of life will be held on February 10th at 2pm at First United Methodist Church in Waynesville, NC. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Matthew 25 Center (https://matt25tc.com/), Yokefellow Prison Ministry (https://yokefellowprisonministry.org/), and Kairos Prison Ministry (https://kairosnc.org/).