Bruce Charles Vandervort

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Bruce Charles Vandervort

April 28, 1940 - March 04, 2020

Bruce Charles Vandervort Bruce Charles Vandervort
Bruce Charles Vandervort was born April 28, 1940, in Sparta, to Lawrence Carl and Leone (Purdy) Vandervort. He grew up on Shady Lane Farm near Warrens, and attended Kirby State Graded School through eighth grade. He then attended Tomah High School, graduating in 1958. He was president of his senior class and participated in football and forensics, in particular extemporaneous speaking and debate. He attended La Crosse State College and graduated in 1965, with a major in history. He completed a master's degree in history at the University of Cincinnati in 1966, moving to pursue his PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1968, he was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship, allowing him to study and research in France for a year. In 1972, he took a hiatus from his doctoral studies and moved to Geneva, Switzerland, to first work for the International Building Trades Union and then to pursue a career in freelance journalism. The hiatus lasted a bit longer than planned, but he ended by finishing his PhD at the University of Virginia. He taught first at Wake Forest University and then for 27 years at Virginia Military Institute, specializing in Modern European History, retiring in 2016. He was the author of three books, wrote numerous articles and participated in several collaborations. During his career at VMI, he also served as editor of the Journal of Military History, a position he held until illness robbed him of the ability to continue.
Bruce succumbed to cancer at his home in Lexington, Va., March 4, 2020.
Bruce is survived by his children, Mark Cottingham, Emily Cottingham (Raphael Pieroni), Lucy Vandervort and Nicholas Vandervort (Amelie Coco); grandchildren, Chris and Raissa Cottingham, Stella and Kim Cottingham and Catherine Kirby; his sisters, Valjean Classey and Janelle (Ken) Dvorak; his sister-in-law, Catherine Gowreesunker; his nieces and nephews.
Bruce was preceded in death by wife, Wendy (Russell) Vandervort; his parents, Lawrence and Leone Vandervort; his grandparents, Mary Clay Vandervort and Floyd and Nita (Dickinson) Purdy; sisters, Faye Leone Vandervort and Maxine Musselman; brothers-in-law, Dennis Classey, Dennis Musselman and Gary Gowreesunker.
Bruce was an excellent teacher, historian and editor. Bruce was loved by family and friends. Bruce will be mourned. "Life must go on. I forget just why."
Published on March 11, 2020
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1 posts

Bill Mullen
Mar 11, 2020
I didn't know Bruce well when we were both students at La Crosse State, and he was a couple of years older than me, a big wheel on campus as an editor of the student paper. I remember the night of the JFK assassination he and a couple of other writers from the student paper, including Odell Peterson, were at Ray George's saloon on Main and Third, and I joined them. Bruce, even then a very dominating presence, speculated brilliantly on the sort of presidency we could expect from Lyndon Baines Johnson. I never knew what course his life took him on after that, but 16 or 17 years later I was at a NATO meeting in Brussels, covering it for the newspaper I worked for, the Chicago Tribune, and du...ring a very large, packed news conference, I heard a vaguely familiar, booming voice asking a question, the questioner identifying himself as Bruce Vandervoort. I was shocked but not surprised that he would have ended up in such a distinguished position. At the end of the press conference I sought him out and we had a nice, long talk, but I never heard from him again. It is good to see that he went on to an even more distinguished career. No surprise.Read more