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Some of my fondest memories of Bruce is when he spoke in front of an audience whether it’s at a recognition day or at an event, he always presented himself with such passion, sincerity and enthusiasm. Looking back at the video I took of him when he spoke at the United Way kick off this year, I can tell he really geniunely cared about people and his community. He always shared interesting stories during his speeches like that time “in Pearl Harbor in 1941 when there was a great concern, that the Japanese were going to attack California at Sunset Beach and that the Army hired his Aunt Ruth and Uncle Joe to stand post to watch the Japanese submarines”. I also remember that time during one of our recognition day at Pavex, when he gave me $5.00 so I can purchase 3 baseballs to dunk Terry in the dunk tank. I think he really wanted to do it himself but had asked me instead to make it even more humilating (I’m giggling as I write this or as we would say LOL!). He was cheering me on as I threw every single ball to hit the target and eventually dunking Terry in the tank. Bruce was laughing and enjoyed our victory! In my years of professional experience, I have never met a man like Bruce who cared for his employees the way he did. He’s always presented us opportunities like no other company has that I’ve worked for. For this, I am truly thankful to him and to his family for allowing us to thrive. He will be greatly missed by many and he will always be in our hearts. Thank you Bruce for making a difference in our lives.
I was devastated to hear about Bruce. My time at ‘the Rock’ has been the highlight of my career due to Bruce and everyone there. My sadness is not just personal, but for all who have lost a great man…communities, the industry, his Rock family and of course, Roseann, Marianne and Arthur. You’re all in my hearts. Bruce, I’ll always carry thoughts of you and be thankful I was blessed to know you. Always, Teri Foster – Minden, Nevada
I began working at Graniterock in 1979 while attending college. I had aspirations of becoming a flight attendant and traveling the world. Instead, my path took me to The Rock selling building materials. Betsy Woolpert had so much faith in me at the age of 19 and it’s no wonder why she placed so much faith in Bruce to take over as President. Bruce had the passion for his Team Members with names attached, knowing all of us personally and what we did for the company. Amazingly enough, he knew many of the spouses as well and could call them by name at any given moment. His plate was never too full to listen to any complaint or suggestion that we had. Somehow, he would invent 30 hour days to ensure that he heard everything everyone had to say. It baffles me as to how he was able to be so hands-on with all of us. We all knew him, not as Mr. Woolpert or the President, CEO and owner but simply as Bruce. He was the man who had the ability to write faster than anyone I had ever seen AND in the process of writing 10 pages not missing a single word that one of us had said. He was amazing….absolutely amazing. My fondest memory was sitting in the conference room with him at the Monterey Peninsula Branch with a few others and there was a strange voice coming from where he was sitting. He started laughing and excused himself from the table. The voice was saying, “Dont’ answer it’s the wife, Don’t answer it’s the wife”….you see it was his cell phone ringing and that was the ring tone secretly placed by his son Arthur. Rest in peace my friend
There are two memories of Bruce that will always bring a smile to my face. The first being Recognition Day at Redwood City and South San Francisco asphalt plants. As we were walking around the plant looking at these huge machines that create the hot mix, I had asked Bruce “What do you think your grandfather would say if he could see all of this?” Bruce looked at me and said “I think he would be pretty amazed.” “And proud, to boot!” I said back.
My second memory is from the Wag N’ Walk Graniterock hosted at the Southside Sand Plant in Hollister. I had seen a beautiful Standard Poodle upon my arrival, and of course wanted to give that dog a pat on the noggin’. I was manning the marketing table in the shop, and here comes the Poodle with owner in tow with a faded red ball cap and dark sun glasses. I was so surprised to see it was Bruce! I didn’t even recognize him! Bruce introduced me to ‘Jack’ and showed me how this bright white beast could shake hands. He was proud of that dog!
Bruce was awesome. He treated everyone the same, and gave his full attention to you when having a conversation. He was (and still is) fantastic, and I will miss seeing his face around the Corporate Office.
My fondest memory of Bruce is about a little dog named Thomas. Thomas came to work with me for 14-1/2 years before he “retired”. (Thomas was one of the few dogs that was allowed to remain on company property.) He was rarely not by my side which included Recognition Days, in parades, doing volunteer work for non-profits, etc. He was quite visable. When Thomas’ time came in 1998 I let Bruce know that he was no longer with us and Southside Sand & Gravel wanted to hold a little memorial. Bruce told me “What ever you want to do the company will pay for it.” He also said “to put an article in Tues Facts along with Rock Talk so that retirees would know that he was gone.” I was at a loss for words. Then Bruce sent me a hugh, hugh bouquet of flowers and signed that is was from Thomas’ friends at the Main Office. Bruce was so sincere. I felt so blessed & special to be working for Graniterock.
This year regarding the Wag n’ Walk event that was held at our plant, Bruce let us know that he & his dog Jack planned on coming and he would volunteer to help out if needed. We wanted him to just to enjoy his day so I wrote a letter to Jack from my two dogs that “the only volunteering would be done by him & his assigned duty was to take his person site- seeing”. Bruce wrote back “How funny and nice”. I am so glad he made it, we got some great pictures of him. What a wonderful smile.
Bruce will never be forgotten and he will be greatly missed by each and everyone of us in different ways for different reasons.
Bruce Woolpert was one of the smartest, generous and kind-hearted persons I have ever known. His optimistic nature spilled over at home, at the workplace and in community service. I got to know him best when I was a state senator (1996-2004) authoriing “Baldridge in Education” legislation. “Baldridge” in general emphasizes students becoming “participants” rather than mere “observers” in the our schools by involving everyone from students and teachers to parents, classified employees and the community as a whole to develop an inclusive and better education system. It fit Bruce “to a T” because he was true leader in showing how better we all can be when we work together, in the classroom, at home or at the office….”Yes, we will.” My deepest sympathy to Roseann, Marianne and Arthur, and thank you for allowing Bruce to share his many special qualities with us. I feel fortunate that I got to know him so well. — Bruce McPherson – Santa Cruz
I first met Bruce more than 20 years ago when I did some environmental compliance work at the Wilson Quarry. At the time, there was a great deal of controversy and rule-making in progress aimed at protecting workers from dust. After we completed the government compliance effort, Bruce asked me to study the topic in depth and find everything there was to know about it. For years, I tracked the subject and even went to Washington DC to hear the experts. His reason was simple — he wanted to know the truth and protect his people from possible harm. And he wanted the science without bias or politics. I was amazed by this man and this award-winning company featured on magazine covers. We continued to meet regularly for several years and one day over a dinner I popped the question: Do you think I might work for Graniterock? I was always in awe of this man, proud to tell my friends that he was indeed one of the brightest people I’ve ever met, even after years of college, conferences, experts, and professors. Bruce had a great sense of humor and could often be heard laughing out loud in the office. One fond memory of him was several months ago when he pulled me aside to tell me a joke. He took it very seriously and called it a “story.” I smile now thinking about it, not the joke, just him.
Paul C. Lessard, PhD
Director, Product Development
June 30, 2012
Bruce was a remarkable person. After my injury Bruce became our biggest advocate. He would check in with Michelle often to see how I was doing and if we needed anything. It was like we were family to him. He was with us from day one of my incident and always had time to lend support when needed. Bruce had an answer to everything no matter what. He pulled for us to make sure I had the best care throughout my whole recovery process. I met with Bruce a few times to discuss getting back to work options and he had so many ideas and was willing to make any accomodations necessary for me to get back to work at Graniterock. Bruce was a great person to work for, I’ve never met a man who cared so much for his employees. I am truly grateful of knowing him and what he has done for me and my family. He will be missed dearly. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Woolpert Family. Thanks Bruce.
To the Family of Bruce Wolpert:
In Bruce’s Memory,
The year was 1995 and I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was when Bruce wrote me a hand written letter saying how impressed he was of my project that was featured in Sunset Magazine. Prior to that letter I didn’t really know Bruce but I certainly knew of him….everyone in Santa Cruz and the Bay Area did. I was so proud of that letter from Bruce that I hung it on my office wall.
Over the years since I had to opportunity to get to know Bruce a bit more on a personal level. Our common bond was that he was one of my suppliers but being very conscientious of my own business development I was deeply moved by how much interest he took in me and my small company. As I grew my company I started to take a great interest in business and was introduced to a few professional associations one of them being the TECH group. In one of the groups was Gene Ravizza who founded the Cupertino Electric. Gene told me stories of another member of the group Bruce Wolpert Senior. I had lunch with Gene later and he told me many fascinating stories of Bruce Senior and his son Bruce Junior. The Wilson/Wolpert story in short, was fascinating.
In the mid 1990’s I had done a seminar for one of the Granite Rock Expose’ and Bruce let me know how much he appreciated my efforts and willingness to help with there event. I considered presenting a seminar for Bruce and his Company a privilege and an honor.
My business started to really expand and around the year 2000. I began reading lots of books on business and one of them was called “From Good to Great” by Jim Collins who was a professor of business at Stanford. As I was reading through this fascinating book out from the pages jumped a Jim Collins anecdote about a student of his named Bruce Wolpert. He was touted Bruce as a brilliant student who of course later became a successful businessman and innovator. Collins admired Bruce’s out of the box creativity in business and sited a particular Granite Rock policy that “if you not satisfied with our service or product simply don’t pay us and we will discuss the matter to reach an agreement.” I must admit that I was a little struck after reading this about Bruce and from that point forward I think that he became a bonifide business star for me.
Around that same time Bruce hosted Granite Rock’s 100th Anniversary in the Moscone Center in San Francisco and had invited me. Obviously Bruce had a ton of things on his mind that day, President George Bush senior was the speaker, people were gathering around Bruce from every direction but that didn’t stop him from coming up to me, slapping his hand on my shoulder and saying with a broad smile “Hi Tom please enjoy yourself”. What I noticed in Bruce was an earnest warmth and enthusiasm. After that gala I believe that Bruce’s superstardom in my eyes was galvanized.
In 2004 our company hit some very bad times and we took on excessive debt. Thankfully Granite Rock and Bruce Wolpert agreed to work with me and without their support I would not have been able to continue on with my business. Granite Rock believed in me and my company and this made me work even harder to pay back our debt.
A few months ago I spoke to Bruce in Santa Cruz at Bill Van Zant’s memorial luncheon. Bill was a former Santa Cruz concrete dispatcher and Bruce was there to honor him. Bruce commented about how exited he was for me that I had just won the National Award for The Best Decorative Concrete project. I told him you know Bruce all 175 yards of the concrete from that project came from Granite Rock. Bruce chuckled and smiled and then offered some ways to help market my work to the Silicon Valley through the Granite Rock Company.
As it coincidentally turns out, Bruce took over the helm of Granite Rock at about the same time I took over my father’s business circa 1987. We have both seen lots and lots of ups and downs in the past 25 years and I had really looked forward to the day we would be able to sit down at some point and reminisce together about our relationship and our businesses. I have many memories of Bruce and at this time they fond and tearful.
We all know that life speeds along at a very high rate; I know this by how quickly each week’s payroll appears. Based on this perspective its not going to be too long before I (and the rest of us for that matter) join Bruce. It is my wish at that point to be able to catch up with Bruce—and reflect about our lives and our businesses—until that time I am really going to miss him.
With Deep Loss,
I came to Graniterock in 1998, thanks to a connection my wife Patty had developed with Bruce as a result of the work they were each doing in the Watsonville school system. When I arrived in 1998, fully a decade into Bruce’s tenure as Graniterock’s CEO and President, I could see that he had put in place a remarkable series of programs, incentives, guidelines and philosophies that, along with the support of a supremely-talented, long-tenured team, and the first-rate heritage of the 2 generations who had come before, had pushed Graniterock to the forefront of a great deal of national thinking, on numerous stages: Quality, Business Practices, New Product Development, Effective Leadership, Customer Relations and Employee Development, to name just a few. The accomplishment was exceptional in many ways, and transformed a Company that could have been a “run-of-the-mill” aggregates business into a national sensation.
And here – at the center of it all – was this conductor of so much creative, progressive mayhem; so much deliberate thinking about all the forces that really mattered (including customers!); so much careful consideration of every single Graniterock employee; so much purposeful benevolence handed out to so many in the community. He was clearly a complex man, with that big brain that seemed to push him relentlessly into so many new areas of thought, of growth, of employee development, of continuing a nearly hundred-year-old tradition of excellence at Graniterock. In the year and a half that I had the good fortune to work with Bruce, he seemed always to have energy to spare, and to be willing – and able! – to commit whatever was required to improve Graniterock, and the fortunes of everyone associated with it.
And then there was his great, good humor, which is where my favorite recollection springs from. Unlike other driven men I’ve known, whose singular commitment drives them into a kind of dour melancholy, Bruce never seemed to lose an ability to find humor in all things, and to savor small, light-hearted moments that provided a break in what could have been an otherwise grueling day. Once, shortly after I’d joined the Company, I was helping on some small court matter, conducted in the jurisdiction of a San Jose courtroom. As with everything else, Bruce had prepared carefully and was clearly approaching the hearing with every intention of presenting the Graniterock position deliberately and, ultimately, victoriously. He was “in it to win it”, which is how I believe he approached every Graniterock project. Several days into the court hearing itself – a solemn proceeding – I knew that I was going to have to be an hour late to the courtroom. Learning of this the previous day, Bruce pulled me aside and, with a sparkle in his eye, asked me to do the following: upon entering the courtroom, walk directly to his position (front and center, at the witness table) and, in full view of the assembled court personages (judge, jury, etc.), hand him a small, folded piece of paper, making as though what I was handing over was of great consequence. But that wasn’t all. With Bruce, as I said before, there was always more. With an even more humorous twinkle, Bruce looked me straight in the eye and said:
“And make sure to write a joke on the paper!” And so I did.
I will always remember the way Bruce helped people in need.In 2000 i learned that my twin brother had multiple myeloma cancer and would need a stem cell transplant from me.I contacted shirley Ow about getting my vacation pay a little early so i could leave work for the two weeks that was required to do the transplant.It wasn’t long before I received a call from Bruce telling me that the company would pay my wages while i was gone to provide my brother this life saving transplant.He told me he didn’t want me to worry about my family only worry about helping my brother, he also went on to say if my wife needed anything while i was gone to just give him a call.I arrived back after the successful transplant the day of the 100 year celebration in San Francisco still feeling the effects of the past two weeks but was very determined to go to this special party.When my wife and i arrived down stairs and started walking through the crowded hallway Bruce came up to me and ask about my brother and offered to take me in the ballroom early so i could sit down and rest.I enjoyed that night and seven more years with my brother due to Bruces simple act of kindness.I am sure that my brother greeted Bruce with a firm hand shake and a big smile on the day he left this earth and thanked him as i had done so many times.Sense Bruces passing i have talked to many people that have shared similar stories.I am at a loss really to describe what Bruce meant to me personally but will try to honor him by carrying on all the things that he brought to Granterock when he became president & CEO. Bruce left a lasting impression on me that i will never forget.
[...] To view Graniterock’s “Memories of Bruce” page, or to give a memory, go to http://www.graniterock.com/blogs/rock/2012/06/memories-of-bruce/. [...]
I remember Bruce very well and was part of the recruiting team which convinced him to come to Hewlett packard San Diego from Stanford and I have very fond memories of meeting him and going around the Stanford campus when I would go to corporate the year after he was an intern in San Diego for the summer and before he joined us as a regular employee in San Diego. It was an accomplishment that we were able to recruit him as he was the number one graduate of the Stanford business school in a year they were the number one business school in the nation. It is also amazing that he came despite knowing me and many others in San Diego. He was one of the most talented, hardworking, smartest people I ever meant. I can say that both my wife Jeanne (who worked at HP then) and I thought he could walk on water. I have many fond personal memories of my interactions with him. He made many contributions to the San Diego site business in his short stay with us and went on to a full life filled with many accomplishments and adventures. He opened new markets for Business Graphics (unheard of before Bruce) which expanded the opportunities for all of us in San Diego. The world is a darker place without him. Our hearts go out to the Woopert family.
I still remember the day Bruce welcome me to the Granitrock family by I taking me to lunch. I spent quailty time getting to know Bruce. He was very easy going and a selfless individual. He would always say,” Hi Pete how is it going and how is your family”? He will very much be missed.
I went to Watsonville Cooperative Nursery School with Bruce back in the 1950’s. I had a Geometry and a Chemistry class with Bruce at Watsonville High School. Whenever I needed a ride to the early morning Chemistry class taught by Mr. DeSalazar I could always count on Bruce to come by and pick me up in that goofy Scout that he drove.
We came in contact with Bruce again when our son Mike went to work for Granite Rock. We went to a few CAL football games together and got to meet Arthur.
It is impossible for me to describe how deeply saddened I am by Bruce’s death. He was a wonderful human being. He was a very important person in our community. I really want to express my deep sympathy to his family because I can’t even imagine what a difficult time they are going through. If his friendship meant so much to mere acquaintances I’m sure that he was an incredible husband and father. I know that he was very respected by the employees of Granite Rock and all of his business associates.
There was a poem that we recited at Nursery School that I have never heard anywhere else. We would recite it with Mrs. Hockel.
” Little candle shining bright
now you share with us your light.
May we always learn to share
with all children everywhere.” Bruce shined very bright.
John and I have very fond memories of Bruce and his wonderful family. Although we were not in close contact in recent years, they will always hold a special place in our hearts. My favorite memory of Bruce is when we took Marianne and our son, Tommy to see Toy Story when it first opened. 1995? They were both 5 or 6 years old. It was a great day and a great movie and we were lucky enough to share it with great people.
The Woolpert family were all very supportive when our son was involved in a terrible car accident. John’s favorite memory of Bruce is his face being the first one he saw as we arrived at Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital. Bruce was there waiting for us. He never ceased to care for others and he will be greatly missed.
I have so many fond memories of Bruce that I really don’t know where to start. I’m very grateful for the opportunity to have worked with him and to have learned from him.
One of my earliest memories is from early in 1992. We met late in the evening at the Redwood City branch. He said that he thought that there was a good chance that Graniterock could win the Baldrige award. He was very excited. He said something to the effect that, “Many think that Graniterock is just ‘rock, sand, and gravel,’ but I think that we can show them that it’s so much more.” He went on to say that, “Graniterock Team Members really do do their best. If they’re going to do even better, it will be because of the training that we provide—not only technical training but training in how to have a good life. Our industry could do so much more. I think that we can and should lead the way.” From that thinking came a commitment to the IPDP program that involved spending on the order of ten times the industry average on the training of Graniterock Team Members.” He went on to say, “Let’s say that we do win the Baldrige. That will mean that we are an excellently run company. But, we should make sure at the same time that we are a great place to work—one of the best, actually.” He noted that training was important in making Graniterock a great place to work, but that that wasn’t enough to ensure an outstanding team. He said that it was critical to have the right people on the team, people that fellow Team Members could support and be proud of as teammates. He said that the best way to do this was to give Graniterock Team Members a major role in selecting their teammates. That realization led to the team interviewing process that continues through today.
Of course, Bruce was right on all counts. Graniterock did win the Baldrige. Graniterock made and kept a commitment to lead the industry in its support of training, both technical and personal. And, for almost 20 years Graniterock Team Members have been selecting teammates who place safety before all else and who can be heard to say time and again, “Yes, we will.” I can think of no better tribute to Bruce than for Graniterock Team Members to continue to put safety before all else and to find every possible opportunity to say, “Yes, we will. “
In Memory of Bruce Woolpert- a Great Guy and a Life Well Lived
As I sit down to collect my thoughts and reminisce about Bruce, I have many fond memories of him. Over the years I knew him in many roles and circumstances: as a boss, a friend, a trusted advisor, a husband, a father and most importantly, a great human being.
Although many of the specifics elude me now, I always enjoyed working with and being with Bruce. As they say, I may not remember exactly what he did in certain circumstances; I may not recall specifically what he said at times; but I do remember how he made me feel. And I always felt like he genuinely cared and was willing to do whatever it took to help out. No problem was too big. The odds were never too long. If there was anything he could do to help – he would.
I will forever think of him as a smart, genuine, considerate, open, hardworking, fun-loving, supportive, trustworthy, loyal friend. Whenever I was with him, he created a great atmosphere of camaraderie, spirit, and fun.
Even though we’ll miss him enormously, he’ll always be a part of us. Because of him we are all better people and that certainly is one of the best measures of a life well lived. Everyone around him is better for having known him.
In summary, I thought I’d try to capture some feelings in a short poem.
Where you go now, we cannot follow
Our paths diverge and stray
But our bonds to you are strong
So you can help to guide the way.
Now you’re a part of all of us
And we toil not on our own
You are always with us
And we are not alone.
I first spoke with Bruce after being laid off at our Capital expressway plant. Pete Thompson was the engineer at the time and recomended me for the asphalt plant operators job. That afternoon of my last day I got a phone call, Pete handed me the phone, it was Bruce. He said, Charles would my trying the job in San Francisco? I said, I don’t know anything about an asphalt plant, I’ve never run one before. He then said give it a try you get a lot from the experience. Well 25 years late and I’m still trying.
On behalf of the Aromas Eagles and the Aromas Town Square Committee, I’d like to share that Bruce was a man who exemplified the highest ideals of community service…he was a generous man who supported the Aromas community and its children. His list of contributions is long and includes support of the 17-acre AR Wilson sports complex currently under construction…the beautiful track and field at Aromas School…the stamped pavement around the Aromas Town Square…and the list goes on. Thank you Bruce for you support…we will always be grateful. And to the Woolpert Family…our hearts are with you.
Bruce’s leadership and enthusiasm to tackle real problems in education have made a difference at CSU Monterey Bay.
Bruce made time in his busy schedule to meet with me on behalf of CSUMB and get reconnected. During our first meeting he listened carefully and asked challenging questions. Personally, I learned a great deal with my interactions with Bruce and I have been inspired by his philanthropy and commitment.
My favorite memory of Bruce was during the first year of Algebra Academy Graduation when CSUMB announced that the students who meet the CSU requirements would be guaranteed admission into CSUMB and when we spoke about it he was so touched he had tears in his eyes. His passion and kindness is exceptional. I will never forget Bruce and I am honored to be able to help continue his work and drive for educational success for all students.
My deepest sympathies and prayers are with his family and Graniterock family.
I am shocked and saddened to learn of Bruce’s death. I just moments ago saw the article in Aggregates Manager. Another friend, Tom Kerns, (both of us from North Carolina)and I worked with Bruce and his dad and Betsy back in the late 1960’s for a summer. We lived in Watsonville, and enjoyed the Woolpert hospility and friendships, a great all around experience. He showed us around thsa area, and we camped at Pico Blanco (sp?). He often kidded us about being from Mayberry, which was not far off base. We have visited several times since that summer, once when he came to NC and later when we dined at his home in California with Rose Ann. I was most impressed with Bruce as a person, but also with how he ran the company. This is a tremendous loss for his family and friends and for the aggregates industry. He will be missed by many.
I shared a couple of classes with Bruce in high school , we were causual friends and shared some laughs. One being in PT class, We were shooting arrows,, I’m not kidding. They lined us all up and gave us bows. ( they were brave and dumb back then ). I think they quit doing that on my behalf. When it came my turn I pulled the arrow back too far and on release it came out like I can’t describe. Anyway it hit poor mr. Hashamoto, the gym teacher right in the butt. The group broke out in uncontrolled laughter and I almost jetted like a scared rabbit from the imagined rath of mr Hashamoto.
Bruce ribbed me about it for a while. He called me Dead Eye Dave.
I grew up in Aromas and spent many weekend days playing at the quarry and river, those were the days. I spent most of my working life with Operators local 3 and worked for Granite Rock a few times. I’m retired now and live in San Juan del sur, Nicaragua.
I worked for Bruce at HP when he was the Marketing Manager at the Personal Software Division and I was the Technical Marketing Manager. John Orcutt worked there for Bruce too.
Bruce was a wonderful man and a good friend.
I only found out today when I was reading the HP retirement club news letter.
My condolences to Bruce’s family.
Video tribute to Bruce from the Santa Cruz Chamber of Commerce Dinner on Friday, November 30.