Dear members of the Bishop’s community,
It is with profound sadness, tempered by gratitude and respect for a long life well-lived, that I am writing to inform you that Bruce Coulter died yesterday at age 90.
Many people have compared Bruce to Jean Béliveau and it is an apt comparison.
He was a man of exceptional dignity, integrity and grace.
Everyone who had the fortune to know Bruce, whether as a student-athlete, as colleague or as a friend, felt privileged to know him.
Even during the final years of his life when he faced some significant health challenges, Bruce and Joyce attended virtually every Gaiters home football and basketball game and he remained the positive and optimistic person he had been all his life.
Bruce became Bishop’s first Director of Athletics when he joined the University in 1962. At the same time he coached the Gaiters football team and was deemed by many as the most innovative coach at any level in Canada. When he retired he was the CIAU’s most successful coach with 137 wins, 80 losses and 2 ties.
Bruce was inducted into the Bishop’s University’s Wall of Distinction in 1992, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 1997 and the Sherbrooke Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.
Each year at the Vanier Cup the Bruce Coulter Trophy is awarded to one of the two outstanding players of the championship game.
Prior to Bishop’s, Bruce had a distinguished 10-year playing career in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes. He helped them win their first Grey Cup in 1949.
He started his coaching career at McGill before he came to Bishop’s, winning a championship in 1960. The current-day Gaiters play on Coulter Field; the stadium was re-named in his honour in 1991.
I received the following note from Rick Southam this morning, which beautifully captures the sentiments of the Bishop’s community:
“Bishop’s and the Townships lured Bruce to Lennoxville because somehow he knew it was exactly the right place and he was exactly the right person to be there to teach and nurture generations of young men and women and reveal to them what it meant to be a good person and a real friend (and teammate); That sports are not the be all and end all; merely a means to equip us with the tools necessary to successfully navigate life and with a desire to assist others who may not have been so fortunate to fall within the sphere of such an extraordinary individual. And he did it all with such a self-effacing ease that many were blithely unaware of his influence.
If anyone deserves to rest in peace it is our friend Bruce.”
Bruce was a builder of people and of our University.
We are grateful to have had him as a member of the Bishop’s community.
May his life be an inspiration and may his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.
Michael Goldbloom, C.M.
Principal and Vice-Chancellor