On Sunday, Nov. 18, 2018, Bruce McAtee, father of three children, passed away at the age of 69 after putting up a near 30-year battle with Parkinson’s Disease. He leaves behind a legacy of selflessness and fearlessness.
Gerald Bruce McAtee known to his friends and family as “Bruce” was born on Jan. 20, 1949 in Cutler, Ohio. He was the son of Gerald and Maxine McAtee. Bruce was the oldest of five. His sisters and brothers include: Lynda Lysaght, Dina Watson, Mark McAtee and Daniel McAtee. Bruce attended Warren High School and was a 1967 graduate. Bruce was an accomplished athlete playing football and baseball. Bruce went to college on a football scholarship. Bruce attended college at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. His field of study was in forestry.
Bruce had dreams of living and working in the mountains and wilds and fulfilled this by eventually moving to Montana. Bruce started his career as a seasonal for the Forest Service in 1968 on the Flathead Interregional Fire Suppression Crew. After two summers he was promoted to squad boss and after five years as a seasonal he took over the “Hotshots” as the crew boss a position he held for 20 years. He later became the Assistant Fire Management Officer on the Flathead National Forest then Overhead Team as a Fuels and Safety specialist. If there was ever a man born for a job it was Bruce McAtee. Throughout his career with the Forest Service, his co-workers and fire crew members were his “other family.” He dearly loved them and two summers ago he was honored during the “Hot Shot 50 year Reunion.” It was one of the greatest memories of his life.
He was the father of Amber Morgan McAtee, Richard Ryan McAtee, and Vanessa Fae McAtee. Bruce was a committed and active participant in his children’s lives as a baseball coach and avid sports fan. He was the grandfather to Gabriella Pallister, Zerita McAtee, Anna Pallister, Hope McAtee, Liam Pallister, and Zarek Pallister.
Bruce had a passion for the outdoors, he was an avid treasure hunter scouring the earth for precious metals and stones or stooping over a stream panning for gold. He was an adventurer and loved being in the forest looking for huckleberries, roaming the hills for elk, or sitting by the campfire with family and friends strumming his guitar.
Bruce was preceded in death by his father, Gerald, his mother, Maxine, and his daughter, Amber. He is survived by his son Richard McAtee (wife Marcey); daughter Vanessa Pallister (husband Cody); his sisters, his brothers, and his grandchildren.
A celebration of Bruce’s life will be held in the Summer of 2019. John Muir stated, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” Bruce heard that call and never looked back, he was a man whom lived a life of adventure, friendship, humor, and love.