The Reverend Dr. Bruce Clark Clear passed away in his sleep at his Wel-life residence in Kalispell (Montana) on October 9, 2022. The cause was a heart attack. He was 72 years old. Bruce had moved to Kalispell in 2019, following a stroke in 2011 that had left him partially paralyzed and suffering from aphasia.
Bruce was born in Anderson, Indiana, the youngest of three sons of Dr. Valorous B. Clear and Evelyn R. Clear. Val Clear was a long term professor of sociology and Anderson College; Evelyn Clear was an English teacher at nearby Alexandria High School. Although Bruce’s formative years were spent in Anderson, the family lived for a year each in Cuba and Puerto Rico, during Val’s sabbatical years—experiences that Bruce cherished.
Bruce was always one of the most popular students in his school. This was, in those times, remarkable, because he was decidedly not an athlete. His popularity stemmed from what would be a lifelong trait—his sincere affection for people of all backgrounds and his ability to make people feel heard and understood. At Anderson High, Bruce was a standout on the debate team and was active in the school’s Thespian’s Society. He was elected Class President in his Junior year.
After completing high school in 1968, Bruce enrolled in the local college—Anderson College (later Anderson University) where he majored in political science. In his sophomore year of college, Bruce married his high school sweetheart, Linda Peyton, who also attended Anderson College. After graduation in 1972, Bruce and LInda moved to Washington, DC, where Bruce obtained an MA in International Relations at Georgetown University, after which he took a position at the Library of Congress. Bruce and Linda’s only child, Cameron, was born in 1975.
Finding his work at the Library of Congress to be unfulfilling, Bruce felt called to the ministry. In 1979, the family moved to Chicago, where Bruce enrolled in the University of Chicago’s School of Theology. He graduated with a doctorate (DMin) in 1983. In 1981, he began an internship at First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. Upon completing the doctorate, he split his time as minister at the Michael Servetus Unitarian Fellowship in Vancouver, Washington, and Eastrose Unitarian Fellowship in Portland. Bruce's leadership grew the Vancouver congregation in size, leading to full-time ministry and, eventually, a new church building. In 1993, he returned to his roots in Indiana, becoming the pastor of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Bruce’s work as a theologian and minister was defined by an abiding passion for social justice as the foundation for church community. As pastor in each of his churches, he became an active member of the local council of churches and an outspoken community advocate for progressive and humanitarian causes. Known for his elegant and informed sermons, Bruce’s talks from the pulpit have been published and re-delivered by admirers. Though he was gifted at giving sermons, he always saw his most important work as that of building community in his congregation and advancing tolerance and understanding among his fellow citizens.
In 1996, he married Nancy Renner, and became stepfather to her five children, whom he loved and cherished: Carly, Edward, Gregory, Shane and Kelsey. Together with his son Cam, Carly, Edward and Shane eventually added 8 grandchildren to the family, each of whom he adored in the proudest possible way.
Bruce is survived by two brothers Scott (Laura) and Todd (Dina), his wife Nancy Renner; his son, Cameron; four stepchildren (Carly/Brandon; Edward/Traci; Shane/Deirdre; and Gregory) and 8 grandchildren, and his former wife, Linda Peyton. He is predeceased by stepdaughter, Kelsey. A lovely, kind, and generous man, Bruce was loved by many and will be deeply missed. A mark of Bruce’s grace was that nobody seemed to have a bad word to say about him, even those who found themselves in disagreement with his views about social policy and theological teachings. The message of his life—to live in peace and harmony with your neighbors—will live on in the many people who were touched by him. A Celebration of Life will be held at 3:00 p.m. Saturday October 15, 2022 at Glacier Unitarian Universalist Church.1515 Trumble Creek Kalispell, MT
Donations in Bruce’s honor can be made to Trinity Haven in Indianapolis: http://www.trinityhavenindy.org/about/ Friends are encouraged to visit our website at www.buffalohillfh.com to leave notes of condolences for the family. Buffalo Hill Funeral Home and Crematory caring for the family.