Harold “Hal” Bruning passed away under the care of Hospice surrounded by his family and his newly adopted family, the residents and staff of Boardman Glens – Highlander at the age of 95. He was born in Mt. Gilead, Ohio, to Uri and Zula Bruning on Dec. 13, 1923. Hal grew up in Ohio and often reminisced about riding his stubborn pony, Mack, over the countryside as a child, visiting neighboring farms as he went. As a child, he vacationed with his family at Platte Lake, which began his love of Benzie County.
He graduated from Midshipman School at Northwestern University and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy. Hal served proudly during WWII in the Pacific Theater aboard the USS LST 816. As a 20-year-old he was responsible for navigation. His ship ferried men, tanks, equipment and ammunition around the Philippines and participated in operations at Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the occupation of Japan.
After the war, he married the love of his life, Mary Louise Peterson, in LaGrange, Ill., on April 5, 1947. Hal and Mary moved to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he used the GI Bill to earn a BS and MS in forestry from the University of Michigan. Go Blue!
He worked for the Mead Paper Company, though soon tired of the corporate life. He became a registered land surveyor and moved his young family to the all season paradise that is Beulah, Mich., in 1959, set up his business, and soon served as county surveyor. His children are eternally grateful to have been provided such an environment in which to grow up.
With his father Uri, Hal owned a Christmas tree plantation, which provided many area youth, including his kids, with their first summer job experience – trimming pine trees.
Hal served for many years on the Benzie Central School Board, and he was president during the building of the high school. Hal loved and served the First Congregational Church of Benzonia for 60 years. He was also active in his professional organization, the Michigan Society of Professional Surveyors, serving on the board and as vice president. Hal was honored with their Lifetime Achievement Award.
In partnership with his friend Dr. “Hap” Haynes, he built a wooden 18-foot sailboat that sailed on Crystal Lake for many summers. Despite many close calls, this fostered a love of sailing in his family that has now passed on to three generations of Brunings.
In his retirement, he took up flying sailplanes with the Northwest Soaring Club of Frankfort obtaining private pilot, commercial, and certified flight instructor for gliders ratings. He enjoyed the sport well into his eighties, flying his sailplane, “Sweet Mama,” and visiting many soaring meccas in the U.S. Hal shared his love of soaring, giving rides and instructing many fledgling pilots in the nuances of motor-less flight.
Deer hunting was his fall passion. Even in retirement, he could not leave for sunny climes until deer season had passed or his tag had been filled. Many stories were swapped and lies told between his longtime friend, John Trustdorf, and younger hunting buddy, Chuck Ballard. Once hunting was over, Hal and Mary explored the USA in their motorhome, eventually settling in Clermont Fla., near a glider port, for winters until Mary’s death.
His wife, parents, and his sister, Rachel Zwadzich, preceded him in death.
Hal is survived by his children: Thomas (Barbara) Bruning of Marathon, ChristineBruningof Kingsley,Mich.,andPeter(Elizabeth)Bruningof Traverse City, Mich.; his grandsons: Gunnar (Stephanie) Bruning of Catonsville, Md., Hans (Jill) Bruning of Chester, Vt., Nick Bruning of Ann Arbor and Andrew Bruning of Seattle, Wash; and his great-grandchildren, Spencer, Annika, Soren and Erik.
The family wishes to express a heartfelt thanks to the staff and residents of Boardman Glens – Highlander and Hospice of Michigan. They could not have been more welcoming, supportive, caring, and compassionate.
A memorial service is planned for summer.
Memorial contributions, in lieu of flowers, may be made in Hal’s name to Benzie Senior Resources, the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy or the Salvation Army.
Paid obituary 82013