Bruce David Umstead

Published 11:43 am Monday, July 1, 2024

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July 2, 1958 – June 19, 2024

Kill Devil Hills, NC – Our beloved family member and rock-solid friend Bruce David Umstead very tragically and unexpectedly passed on to the ethereal other side of his fishing hole on June 19, 2024.

Bruce was born into a military family in Bangor, Maine, in 1958, and was the loving son of an Air Force Colonel and his loving homemaker Mom, but until about 20 years ago, Bruce spent his early life in his native area of Dayton, Ohio. Growing up in a military family, he learned early on how to live a very structured and disciplined life. But make no mistake, Bruce ended up living his life in his own way and on his own terms, and that turned out to be a dang good thing.

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Bruce graduated from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio with a business major and a minor in finance in 1980, and spent his early adult professional life in the financial world, working in various parts of the US. Bruce worked as a bartender to put himself through school, and that played a key role in evolving his incredible wit, sense of humor, and gift of gab, all traits that he used deftly the entirety of his well lived life.

Like so many local residents, Bruce grew up in a family that often visited the Outer Banks when he was very young. So, what did he do? When he decided and finally knew that he needed a major change in his life, he felt the calling of our OBX, and traded in his business suit for a bathing suit, and thus began his sweet new life here on the Outer Banks. He beautifully embraced his newly adopted home, and that home completely embraced him. Once he moved here and shortly thereafter met the love of his life in local native and business owner Julie Gray, the Outer Banks became his new roots while at the same time Julie became his rock, and he’d never leave his new roots again. And thus began the new and evolving loving life for Our Bruce.

Bruce had many passions in his life, but all of those passions and loves paled in comparison to one, and that was his profoundly deep love for his wife of these past 19 years, Julie.

Julie was his princess, and he absolutely thought that, shall we say, she walked on water, and he’d do anything and everything for her. They had two loves in particular, one being their competitive interest in and love for participating in fishing tournaments, and the other being following Julie’s nieces and nephews anywhere and everywhere she told Bruce they were going to go.

Possessing a very dry and incredibly witty sense of humor that few could match, if Bruce liked you, you were going to be the almost immediate butt of his jokes, and that would be almost every time that he saw you, and would indeed be considered a huge compliment of friendship. As an example, after having helped several Gray family members over a period of years move residences, Bruce remarked: “You guys aren’t going to be moving again any time soon, are you?” That was of course said with a huge wink and totally out of love.

His hulking 6’2″ and 250 pound frame was as strong as the proverbial ox, and he could easily do the work of 2 or 3 others in those moves. He totally loved to joke and crack on others, and one never knew what sly and witty comment would come out of his mouth next. He could make friends anywhere and with anyone.

Another beautiful example of Bruce’s fun-loving side was that several times a year various family members would go out of town and need their pets cared for. Because both Bruce and Julie absolutely loved pets, they would gladly comply and keep them at their house. Often as a gimmick to keep Julie extra happy and laughing, Bruce would dress them up, especially the Chihuahua, and especially on Christmas and St. Patrick’s Day. Just imagine watching that happen! It would literally bring tears to their eyes because it was so off-beat and hilariously zany!

Once Bruce moved to the OBX in 2005, and with his swimsuit on instead of his business suit, he became a “cool papa pool boy” extraordinaire, the oldest pool boy on the beach, one of the most likable and hardest working, and also probably the cutest and best looking of the older pool boys (so sayeth Julie, and who are we to argue with that, right?). His co-workers and clients adored him immensely.

A beautiful summative example of his love for family and life and for Julie, especially since she was with him and loving and laughing and enjoying every second of it, involved his mother Elaine after his father Jim passed away. Elaine came to the Outer Banks to visit Bruce and Julie in 2016, and as much as anything else during her visit, she wanted to go shelling on the beach. Bruce went to a local shell shop and bought a collection of beautiful but not necessarily local shells. Before taking his Mom to the beach, he spread the shells out in a path where he would take her on the walk.

They’re taking their walk on the beach, and suddenly Bruce exclaims, “Look Mom at all these shells out here in our path. This is a goldmine, this is incredible!” His Mom turns to Bruce and says over and over, “Look at what I just found!” Of course his Mom had no idea, and Bruce could not have been happier. Please take this to understand the beauty of Bruce’s sense of humor, and his love of life, friends, and family.

The outpouring of love and affection and endearments for Our Bruce has been considerable, and we are profoundly grateful to our Outer Banks friends and loved ones. We truly can’t thank everyone enough, and we’ll be eternally grateful. And please trust us, Our Bruce is loving and appreciating every second of these endearments as well.

As a final thought and expression of love and affection for Bruce and Julie, may we please urge all to often hug and love on those to whom you are close, and tell them often that you love them.

And now Bruce and Julie also suggest that you “Go wet a line!” With all of our love!

Twiford Funeral Homes, Outer Banks is assisting the family with arrangements. Condolences and memories may be shared at