By: Lorna Hard
Love of water, boats, and sailing are at the center of Bruce Donaldson’s life and always have been. During his childhood in Detroit, he spent a lot of time with his grandparents at their home on the St. Clair River. His first experience of a boat was their row boat. As a very young child, he spent as much time as possible in that boat, trying to make it a sailboat by holding a beach umbrella up to catch the wind. He would go as far upstream as possible behind the umbrella and then close it and float back downstream to the house.
When he was eight he decided to build himself a proper sailboat. This was the first boat he designed, a catboat made from a four-foot by eight-foot piece of plywood and white pine boards. The mast and boom were bamboo and the sail was made from an old sheet. This greatly expanded the range of his sailing on the St. Clair River.
Bruce attended local schools and then enrolled at Olivet College in Michigan. After one year at Olivet, he moved to Florida and spent the next year racing sailing yachts in the waters around Florida and beyond to earn enough money to finance the rest of his college career. He then put himself through Florida State University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
Except for two years of service in the United States Army in the mid-1950s, Bruce’s entire career was in the boating industry. Through perseverance and a couple of lucky coincidences, he joined Chris Craft Corporation when they moved their headquarters to Fort Lauderdale. He continued with Chris Craft for more than thirty years, working in sales, plant management, the development of products, and corporate management, ending up as president of the company. Most of his career with Chris Craft was in Fort Lauderdale, but he also spent five years at the Chris Craft plant in Holland, Michigan. When the corporate headquarters moved to Sarasota, Bruce settled here. When Chris Craft was sold, Bruce joined Wellcraft Marine where he worked for nine years. He ended his career with Galati Marine, where he worked for eighteen years. The first few years in Sarasota, Bruce lived on Longboat Key and then moved to St. Armands Key where he lived for more than twenty years before moving to Plymouth Harbor at the end of March.
While he was living in Fort Lauderdale Bruce met and married his wife, Judy. When they married, Judy’s son, Tim, was eight years old. Bruce and Judy raised Tim together, and Bruce and Tim are very close. Even though Tim lives in Colorado, he came to Sarasota several times to help Bruce with his move to Plymouth Harbor, and they very much enjoy their time together. Sadly, Judy passed away in 2006.
Bruce considers himself extremely fortunate to have been able to make his living doing what he loves most. Especially, his corporate career entailed long hours working and not a lot of free time, but he enjoyed it all and Judy was very supportive. Bruce is glad to have moved to Plymouth Harbor, but when he moved into Apartment W-302 in March, something was missing. That apartment does not have a water view. So, he put himself on the waiting list for an apartment overlooking the Bay and began happily settling into life at Plymouth Harbor. By early May, Apartment W-315 across the West Garden on the water side became available. Bruce will be happily living there by the time this is published.
He considers Plymouth Harbor his “Last Port of Call” and, with that move he will be snugged down in the “perfect slip” with a lovely view of the water.