GARDNERVILLE RANCHOS - Considered a kind, hardworking man dedicated to the community he served, Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District board chairman Bruce Nystrom died Monday morning.
Family members said that while Nystrom had been battling cancer for a year and a half, his death came quite unexpectedly.
"He took a turn for the worst in the last 36 hours," said Mary Jean Nystrom, his wife. "He passed away with all of his family here."
Nystrom played part in getting the fire department station house built, and served on the district board since 1985.
He would have been 56 on his next birthday, which is today. He was born Nov. 9, 1943 to Herb and Jean Nystrom in North Hollywood, Calif.
He was raised in Southern California. After high school and a few years of college, he started working as a repairman for Xerox in 1965. He served in the U.S. Navy in the late '60s working as an IC electrician. He moved to the San Fernando Valley with his new wife, Linda. They had one child, Melissa, before they divorced in 1970.
During his time at Xerox in San Fernando, he was dispatched to repair jobs by a woman named Mary Jean. They had talked over the phone for five years without meeting face-to-face. He married his wife, MJ, in 1975 at Zephyr Cove at Lake Tahoe.
"We fell in love with it up here and wanted to move closer to his parent, who were living here," said MJ.
They couple moved to the Gardnerville Ranchos almost 25 years ago.
Soon after moving to the area, he was drafted into the tiny Ranchos Volunteer Fire Department almost by accident, when the department's only fire truck at the time, a hand-me-down from the Edwards Air Force Base, broke down in front of his driveway. Nystrom helped build the first Ranchos fire station. He was president of the fire department, engineer and training officer.
He served on the district's board of trustees since 1985 after he attended a few board meetings to ask a stop sign be installed on his street.
Improvement district manager Bob Spellberg said, "He was not only my boss, but he was my friend. We worked together on the fire department for 11."
MJ said it was hard on Nystrom not to be active.
"He kept himself doing the things he thought were important," MJ said. "He did just everything he could for them (at the fire station).
"He would still go up and they still respected him like an elder in a tribe," she said.
His father, Herb Nystrom, lives in Gardnerville. He proceeded in death by his mother who died three years ago.
He is survived by his wife, of Gardnerville Ranchos; a daughter, Melissa (and Michael) Salmon of Los Alamos, N.M.; a son, Eric, a senior at University of Nevada, Las Vegas; and a daughter, Gretchen a junior and cheerleader at Douglas High School; and two grandchildren - Austin and Matthew.
Arrangements are being handled by Capitol City Crematory. Services will be announced at a later date.