Michael R. Bruno

Aug. 8, 1936 - March 20, 2006

Michael R. Bruno, 69, was taken home to the Lord Jesus on Monday, March 20, 2006, while surrounded by his family at his home in Oconomowoc, following a long and courageous battle with cancer. He was born Aug. 8, 1936, to Joseph and Hattie Bruno in Milwaukee and grew up in Hartland, graduating from Hartland High School in 1954.

He married Beverly Rollefson on May 14, 1955, at Our Saviorís Lutheran Church in Oconomowoc, following which they spent 50 wonderful years together. They lovingly raised seven children and were further blessed with 16 grandchildren. Mikeís family was his No. 1 priority.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly (Rollefson) Bruno of Oconomowoc, his three daughters, Annette (Thomas) Jacobson, Catherine (Terry) Andrus and Lisa; and his four sons, Michael (Bridget), David (Amy), Matthew and Joseph (Karen). He is also survived by his 16 grandchildren, Alec, Jacob (Dena), Adam (Christine), Sarah, Isaac, Michael III "Mitch," Elizabeth, Maria, Anthony, Justin, Benjamin, Nathan, Isabella, Silas, Abigail and Vincent; his sister, Mary (Jerry) Dorn; brother, Joseph (Patty); as well as numerous nieces, nephews and other relatives. He was preceded in death by his parents, Joseph and Hattie; his brothers, John and Edward; and his sister, Rosemary Goetzke.

Mikeís father died when he was only 13, followed by his mother when he was 15. He then lived with several siblings and their spouses, until he completed high school and joined the Air Force, where he served four years of active duty. This took him and Beverly to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Following his tour in the Air Force, he and Beverly returned to Oconomowoc. From there they moved many times as Mike took on new positions, developing his natural talents in sales and marketing. This led to key positions in sales and marketing at the Cheney Co. in New Berlin and the Braun Corp. in Winamac, Ind.

Although the word "passion" can seem overused, Mike really defined the word passion in everything he did: as a star athlete in high school playing baseball (his favorite), football or basketball; progressing to coaching his sons in baseball, football and soccer; to being an avid sports fan throughout the rest of his life. He loved airplanes and flying, eventually becoming a private pilot and owning his own plane, and faithfully attending the annual Experimental Aircraft Association AirVenture in Oshkosh. He truly enjoyed military history, serving as a historian while in the Air Force. Mike was involved in numerous activities at his church including many years as a Sunday school teacher, as a member of the choir and leading the new organ fund-raising committee. He also supported many charitable organizations, including the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, United Way, Mission Aviation Fellowship, World Vision and the Salvation Army.

But it was just slightly more than 20 years ago that Mikeís passion led to fulfilling his dream of owning his own business. As a pioneer in the mobility products industry, in 1984 Mike launched the company that bears his name, building Bruno Independent Living Aids Inc. into the North American leader of vehicle lifts, turning automotive seating and stairlifts. Mike expanded the business internationally in 2002 by acquiring Autoadapt in Sweden.

Mikeís success in business has been recognized repeatedly through numerous awards including Wisconsin Entrepreneur of the Year in 1993, five consecutive Metro Milwaukee Future Fifty awards, two Wisconsin Manufacturer of the Year Awards and several Governorís New Products Awards, with two more to be awarded this spring. Mike was truly passionate about the mobility and accessibility industries and spent most of his career developing and selling innovative products to improve peopleís abilities to live independently.

Mike also had a passion for creating employment opportunities and was proud to have created about 300 jobs in Oconomowoc. Although Mike did not have the opportunity to continue formal education beyond high school, he was a very strong supporter of education. He and his wife, Beverly, established the Michael and Beverly Bruno Foundation in 2004, which awards five annual scholarships in support of higher education for children of Bruno employees.

Mike will be dearly missed by his family and the many others who were touched by his passion.

Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, March 26, at Schmidt & Bartelt Notbohm-Kreutzmann Funeral Home, 121 Cross St., Oconomowoc. There will also be visitation from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday, March 27, at Our Saviorís Lutheran Church, 145 Lisbon Road, Oconomowoc, followed by a memorial service at 11:30 a.m. A luncheon will be served at the church after the service.

Memorials may be made to Milwaukee Rescue Mission, the Salvation Army or Our Savior's Lutheran Church in Oconomowoc.

Schmidt & Bartelt Notbohm-Kreutzmann Funeral Home, 567-4459, is serving the family.