Chief Whitehouse was a beloved and highly respected member of the Corona De Tucson community. He was born on November 3, 1953 in Arlington, Virginia and passed away on September 15th, 2023.
He served with the Corona de Tucson Fire District for 33 years; 15 years as Chief and was the first paid fireman with the fire district. He also served 26 years as a paramedic and fire engine boss. He began his career fighting wildland fires across the Western U.S. and relocated to the Corona de Tucson area in 1977.
Bruce is survived by his loving wife of 40 years, Sandy McPherson Whitehouse, daughters Christine Bong and Andrea Clark, several grand and great grandchildren, as well as his beloved Chihuahua dogs.
After an illustrious high school career, winning the 1972 Virginia indoor and outdoor high jump championships, he received a track and field scholarship to Virginia Tech. He was inducted into the West Springfield High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2022.
Sandy, his beloved wife, recalls she first met Bruce back in 1976. He was hitchhiking along 5th Street in Tucson and she picked him up and gave him a ride. Sandy remembers, “He was a big city boy, but loved living the country life in the desert.” They became avid fans of the “Grateful Dead” rock group and were known as “deadheads,” attending numerous concerts over the years. Bruce and Sandy traveled the world, collecting friends wherever they went while enjoying many memorable adventures.
“He went above and beyond the call of duty” – Sandy McPherson Whitehouse
Chief Whitehouse was known to serve his community beyond the typical duties of a fireman and Chief. Many times he would assist those in need by burying their beloved pets, replacing furnace filters, or simply changing a light bulb that needed replacing. These acts of kindness exemplified the dedication and spirit of someone who loved to take pictures every evening of the vibrant sunsets in the Corona de Tucson valley. Bruce was connected to this land and community through his love of people and willingness to serve with compassion and purpose – “He went above and beyond the call of duty.”
“He was a wonderful leader – he was the best.” – Capt. Clay Almand – Corona de Tucson Fire District
Capt. Clay Almand recalls Chief Whitehouse was a generous and selfless leader whose commitment to the community was unsurpassed. He led from the front and was a true leader with high standards in performance, attitudes, and actions. He expected all his firefighters to serve the needs of the community by providing exceptional first responder services with excellence and dedication to all those in need within the Corona de Tucson Fire district – a true servant of the people.
Capt Almand also shares he was directly mentored by Chief Whitehouse and was instrumental in helping him attain his many firefighting certifications and career promotions. He states, “Chief Whitehouse was able to take individuals from any background and work with them – he was my favorite Chief.”
Being connected to the natural environment was an important priority for Bruce. He was dedicated in preserving the Santa Rita Mountains and working with Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in the initial stages of protecting this sacred and pristine region.
The family has requested all donations be sent in memory of Chief Bruce Whitehouse to the Corona De Tucson Fire District and “Save The Scenic Santa Ritas.”
Sandy states, “My beloved husband was honored, revered, and remembered by all who knew and loved him – he will be deeply missed.”
A memorial service was held in his honor on Monday, September 25, 2023, at the Corona de Tucson Fire Station # 1 with interment at Evergreen Cemetery, Tucson, AZ.
Links: Corona de Tucson Fire District – coronafire.org
Save The Scenic Santa Ritas – scenicsantaritas.org/donate
By Rick Bass