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Speak Softly and Carry a Big "Hiking" Stick; the unofficial Bruce Vaughn Guidelines to being Singularly Adored by Everyone

1. There is more to life than counting calories:   Papa had a sweet tooth and one of Emily’s favorite memories of Papa was watching him sneak extra dessert when Granny wasn’t watching after she had specifically instructed not to.

2. Bust a Move:  Kara’s favorite memory of Papa was watching him dance what we loving refer to as the “Papa Shuffle.” It is just basically a heel to toe shuffle across the room. Seeing as how I have coordination comparable to that of a cat in water, I will not be demonstrating, but open up the floor to anyone brave enough to try. 

3. Use Alternative Medicine when Appropriate: One time when we were out hiking at Virgin Falls, Emily, who is tough as nails mind you, got stung by a bee. To our great horror, Papa pulled a big wad of chewing tobacco out of his mouth and rubbed the juice on the sting. To this day, Emily swears by the medicinal power of tobacco. 

4. Never Pick a Favorite: In addition to providing a specific memory, Megan chose to share one of Papa’s greatest characteristics – his ability to make everyone feel like you were his favorite. Now is odd that Megan chose to highlight this characteristic, as she stands ready, willing and able to provide us with an itemized list as to why she was “in fact” Papa’s favorite. But in her great humility Megan asked that I not share this list as a) it undermines everything that I am saying here tonight, and b) she didn’t want to make the rest of, non-favorites, feel bad. Megan, you are wise beyond your years. 

5. Give a Good Compliment: One thing that Anna loved most about Papa Bruce was his unparalleled ability to give the perfect compliment .For example, every time he talked to you on the phone the first thing he said was, “you’re lookin’ good."  Nine times of out time this probably wasn't true, especially if he caught us in the morning, but it made you feel good all the same. 

6. Appreciate the Simple Things: When we were younger, Papa used to take us “Buck-eye” hunting.  A few years ago, Megan and Johnny went “buck-eye” hunting down the in the gulf. Megan gave her “buck-eye” to Papa.  Years later Megan learned that Papa had carried that “buck-eye” in his pocket every day since. 

7. If at First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again:  Josh recalls that after attempting and failing to driver test several times, Papa read the entire driver’s manual to Josh.  He then took Josh to take the test where he miraculously passed. Had it not been for Papa, Josh might still be a passenger to this very day.    

8. Show Tough Love: I think that we can all stipulate that Caleb was a rambunctious kid.  So it should as no surprise that Caleb was the only grandchild to ever receive a lifetime ban from Sparta Hardware for acts of mass destruction.

9. Remember and Celebrate the Special Days: My family moved way from Sparta when I was 8 years old so I didn’t get to spend many birthdays with Papa. But every year on November 11th I looked forward to Papa and Granny singing Happy Birthday to me over the phone. 

10. Make it All About Jesus: Anna states,    “[W]e could talk all day about Papa. But what sticks out was the way he lived during the darkest of days – the earthly trials.  No matter how he felt, he smiled at me every time I walked in the room and said “I love you more than you know.”  He never complained once - no matter how bad his day had been.  His hugs were warm and his advice was full of Godly wisdom.  We will miss him, but his life has forever inspired ours."

We love you Papa.


  1. Mom told me at lunch Sunday that when Papa first took over at Sparta Hardware he was sent by one of the owners to repossess some unpaid for furniture. When he got there and saw how bad things were for them he not only gave them the furniture he also gave them $20.00 dollars! We sure had one special Papa!


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