Dr. Leonard R. Bruguier, 1944-2009 (My Friend Forever)

Posted: March 23, 2010 in Education, Family, Hero, History, Leadership, Learning, Reflection, Respect, teachers, Teaching
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Sadly I have belatedly learned of one of my great mentor’s death.  He lives on within me, in my mind and in my heart.  Leonard Bruguier was a great friend, first and foremost.  He was my professor at the University of South Dakota during the early 1990s.  I spent many a morning or afternoon in his office discussing history, life, and family.  We kept in touch off and on.  I would stop by to visit when in South Dakota.  I later found him in Mexico (Thanks to the www).  Leonard was a descendant of the great Yankton Sioux leaders Struck by the Ree and  Chief War Eagle.  He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a decorated Marine.  I admired Leonard and respected his counsel so much.  I will dearly miss him.

The following are Leonard’s words to me a few years ago as I faced a new change and challenge in my life.  It is just as he typed it, and they are valuable words of wisdom from one of the greatest men I have ever known. God be with you until we meet again.

“well, your occupation tale sounds like another adventure best taken and not rued forever. i might have ants in my pants and happy feet but one thing i do practice is memories, and i carry them brightly in mind. i try to remember all those places and maybe that’s why i am able to smile today. working with other people in enclosed places with mucho politica is difficult, and as your ancestors know, who knows what’s over the horizon. us sioux b dat way!!!! the onliest thing i can say about that is always try to go and be where you can have a loving relationship with yourself and your family. but, never forget, somebody has to assign the stall cleaning details. that is sometimes an aggravating task, so make sure your heart is part of the equation on the next move. it would please me no end and continue to make me smile to see you finish your doctorate. that’s my biased opinion from the cloistered ranks of academia.”  Leonard Bruguier March 16, 2007

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Comments
  1. I ALSO MUST SAY THAT MY COUSIN LEONARD WAS THE ONLY MAN I HAVE EVER LOOKED UP TO AND ADMIRED. I REMEMBER HIM IN YANKTON AS I WAS GOING TO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL-HE ALWAYS MADE SURE I WAS OKAY ON MY WAY TO SCHOOL, TO SITTING WITH HIM ON THE FRONT STEPS CRYING BECAUSE HE WAS HEADED TO VIETNAM-THEY WERE TAKING MY PROTECTOR AWAY-TO GETTING HIS DOCTORATE AND BEING ABLE TO PLACE THAT HONOR FEATHER IN HIS HAIR. THEN LATER WHEN I FOUND MYSELF CONFUSED WITH MY ARTS-HE WAS THE FIRST CALL I GOT WHEN I WAS AWARDED 7 WINS IN ONE SHOW. THAT WAS THE DAY I FELT THE PROUDEST-HERE WAS THIS MAN THAT I LOOKED UP TO SO MUCH, CALLING TO CONGRATULATE ME AND PICK ME UP. MY COUSIN LEONARD HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE THE MOST RESPECTED MAN IN MY LIFE, WHILE HE WALKED WITH US, AND NOW THAT HE GOES ONCE MORE AHEAD OF ME. I KNOW HE WILL BE WAITING WITH THE REST OF MY FAMILY TO MEET ME WHEN I MOVE ON

  2. nhokanson says:

    Sharon, thank you for your remarks regarding Leonard. We have been so blessed to have him in our lives. As I read your words I could imagine you and Leonard as he watched over you. He was truly a caring man, and I am better for knowing him. We must remember to pass on the great attributes Leonard shared with us and lift others on to achieving their dreams.

  3. Jim Davlin says:

    I am Leonard’s Brother not by blood, but a brother never the less. We were Warriors together. We met at Camp Pendleton in 1965 we traveled the world together. We went to war together! We saw things no one should see. However “Horse” could find humor in just about everything. We liberated items that are guys needed that those more fortunate had! If you needed something at it was with in his ability to acquire it was yours!
    We talked on the phone a great deal I miss that. I was able to reunite with him in 2001 in Oregon I was able to introduce him to my wife and granddaughter so they could put a face with all the stories I told. At that reunion he made friends with total strangers, that was “Horse” he could charm the pants of a Nun! LOL
    Life is so short. But to quote him “Life is Good , keep smiling!”

  4. nhokanson says:

    Jim, thanks for sharing. Thank you for your service, Leonard and yourself have made this world a better place because of it. I am glad to be in the same company as you existing as good souls that knew Leonard Bruguier. He was so good to my family and became a part of it as I considered myself a part of his.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I, too am very moved to read now 3 years down the road of Leonard’s passing…I had the honor of spending 6 days with him as our instructor at a seminar on “American Indians” in Wittenberg, Germany in 1998. I will never forget his departing words at the end of our seminar: “Have a great life, forever”…Thanks for the memory, Leonard!

  6. SoDakIrish says:

    I was one lucky cat to know Leonard. I was one of his students in the late 90’s. I was a bit nervous being the only wasicu in all of the AIS program, but I learned I had a friend in Dr. Bruguier.
    We could talk politics, college football, religion, etc. for hours after class- and did. He told me, “I can’t wait till you get elected gov and raise some hell.”
    I moved on from politics, and work in healthcare leadership now. People look at my funny when they hear that I (of German/Irish descent) minored in American Indian Studies, but if they knew Leonard, they would know why 1-2 electives would never be enough.
    I am a better man, and a more rounded human being for having him be a teacher, mentor and friend.
    Until we meet again Doc, Mitakuye Oyasin!

  7. JoAnn Muir says:

    Leonard was very, very funny. Besides being very bright, he was George Carlin funny. He is missed.

  8. Isaias McCaffery says:

    I knew Leonard at Oklahoma State University in the late 80’s. As a Marine in Vietnam, he was assigned to point position during patrols because as a Sioux supposedly he would be a “natural” scout (typical Hollywood b.s.). Leonard was scared to death until he learned that usually the Vietcong let the point pass an ambush point– in order to hit a bigger target. He knew well the tragic futility of that war. He was a warm and funny human being, and his fellow grad students enjoyed his company. A good pal…

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