Enjoyed telescope making, astronomy and photography
Published April 24, 2019
Born in Tela, Honduras, he was the son of the late William Bruce Gist Sr. and the late Evelyn Thomas Gist, both originally from Greenwood, Mississippi. He was the husband of the late Anne Hahn Gist from Lehighton, Pennsylvania. He was the father of Marilyn Gist (Paul Morro) of Raleigh, North Carolina; William B. Gist III (Cynthia) of Chelmsford; Susan Gist-Miller (Saul Miller) of Dunstable; Patricia Bleau (Thomas) of Simi Valley, California; and Georgia Thibodeau (Andre) of Mendon.
He is survived by 14 grandchildren: Erica Coleman, Brian Coleman, Scott Coleman, Rob Coleman, Kimberly Gist, Jessica Volk, Lily Gist, Haley Miller, Ryan Bleau, Jason Bleau, Arianna Bleau, Angelique Bleau, Carly Thibodeau and Rachel Thibodeau. He is survived by six great-grandchildren: Reid Coleman, Paige Coleman, Avery Coleman, Grace McCreanor, Jacob Volk and Ethan Volk. He is survived by his half-sisters Joanna O’Rourke and Gwendolyn Sarsfield. He is predeceased by his brother Clarence Gist, half-brother Will Gist and half-sister Helen Tselikidis.
Attending MIT on scholarship as a member of the class of 1945 and Delta Tau Fraternity, Bruce studied mechanical and aeronautical engineering. During the war, the Army sent him to URI and UNH to study bridge building, and he graduated in 1947 with a BS from both MIT and UNH in electrical and mechanical engineering. Bruce served our country during World War II in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, designing bridges to be put up and taken down in hours in Europe.
He and his wife of 65 years, Anne, lived in Pennsylvania, California, and New Jersey before settling in Lynnfield for 57 years. He was a dedicated husband and father to his family. While in New Jersey, Bruce co-designed the first successful hovercraft for the military. He worked for General Electric in Lynn for 26 years in the Aircraft Engine Group. He was responsible for the development of the variable cycle gas turbine engine that was used on aircraft that enabled the growth of commercial aviation in the world. The 737 CFM56 engine he helped design is still in use on over 8,000 commercial aircraft.
Bruce was a life-long Boy Scout, earning his Eagle Scout in Mississippi and serving in many positions in Boy Scouts, from troop leader to North Bay Council Commissioner and culminating in the presentation of the Silver Beaver award. He was also a dedicated member of Centre Congregational Church of Lynnfield, and served in many roles including deacon, financial secretary, videographer and producer of cable broadcasts for church services and served on many committees including the Parish Council. He was an active member of the Lynnfield Art Guild. In his spare time, he was an enthusiast in telescope making, astronomy, archery and bow making, photography, film developing, enlarging and printing, woodworking and furniture making, camping, vegetable gardening, and sailing. He was a competitive racer of his day sailer and served as the commodore of Quannapowitt Yacht Club in Wakefield in 1988.
In the last 18 months, he has been in the loving care of Blaire House of Milford. He left behind a rich legacy and the love and admiration of his family and friends. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to Alzheimer’s research.
Visitation for relatives and friends will take place at the McDonald Funeral Home, 19 Yale Ave., Wakefield on Friday, April 26 from 5-8 p.m. A funeral service in the Centre Congregational Church, 5 Summer St., will take place on Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. Interment will take place at Forest Hill Cemetery.