Dear Bruce Tinnock passed away on Tuesday 1 May, 2018 in hospice.
He had been living with cancer.
Bruce has been an integral part of Christchurch tango since its inception, nearly twenty years, and will be missed. He was a kind and generous man. Tango was an important part of his life and it was incredible that he kept dancing right up to April this year.
He had excellent rhythm, right up to the last, and probably still does.
There will be a special milonga dedicated to Bruce:
Wednesday 16 May, 8-11pm
Floorspace, 192 Bealey Avenue, Christchurch
A very special thanks to Rose, on behalf of the tango community, for finding out why we hadn't seen Bruce recently and for communicating with his family and friends.
Scroll down the page for photos and tributes.
Click on the small images to see them larger.
If you have photos, clips or messages you would like added
please send them to Marian: firstname.lastname@example.org
We've received very fond messages and photos from friends of Bruce, within tango and beyond.
Here is one from a long-time family friend, Sheila Weir:
'I was so thrilled to hear from Kerry that she’d managed to contact you. What a lovely idea to remember Bruce at your next [tango] meeting. He would have been so touched. His membership was so important and he was always saying how good you all were to him. He loved it that you accepted him in old age and I’m sure you all lengthened his life by many years. He especially made me laugh at his description of his attempt at Shakespearian acting at one of your parties.
I have sent this collection of different aspects of Bruce’s life. As you said, he was very private and compartmentalised different aspects of his life.You probably didn’t know how wonderful he was with small children. They all adored him.
How I wish I could be there with you on Wednesday, but do drink a toast from me.'
- Sheila Weir
(mother of Kerry Preston-Jones and Alison Hunt)
Thank you very much to Sheila Weir for this brief summary of Bruce's life:
I’ve tried to simplify this account of Bruce’s life, but he was a man of so many parts I’m sure there will be lots of other versions!
Bruce was born in a small town in North Canterbury and, though not from a farming back ground, he loved the life, even working on farms as a school boy. At 21 he went to work for Mona Anderson on Mt Algidus and was featured in her book 'A River Rules my Life'. Over his next twenty five years there he spent time sheperding, mustering in the High Country and wool classing.
He also managed to fit in a spell of crayfishing in Doubtful Sound where he was shipwrecked for a week. With nothing but half a candle and seven matches, he survived on berries and a Weka! He also managed to climb Mt Cook for a dare.
Finally settling down, Bruce started to teach part time at Lincoln College in their wool science department. He eventually worked there full time for the next 35 years where he was respected by generations of students from around the world.
Bruce had several bouts of ill health in his retirement, but still managed to travel extensively all over the world, visiting his many friends and former students. He was a sort of adopted member of our family for over forty years and of course we loved him to bits. A wonderful photographer, he loved to come over to England to record, weddings christenings, special birthdays etc ,and special celebrations weren’t and will never be the same without him.
However I’m sure the thing that kept him so fit and happy for the last twenty years was the fun and companionship he enjoyed with you all. Two weeks before he died he phoned and assured me he was still enjoying his dancing although it made him ‘a little tired’!
Bless you all for being such good kind friends to him.
From Ian & Verna:
'So sad to hear about Bruce and wish we could join you all at his milonga but we will still be away.
We had a lovely time with Bruce in Paris a few years ago when he was the guest speaker at the World Conference of a Natural Fibres Organisation...we can't remember the proper name but he had been a founder member and was considered a global expert by his peers. He had had heart trouble prior to the trip and when he asked his doctor if it was safe to fly, the doc replied " Well Bruce you can die in your bed or you can die on the plane, the choice is yours...." So Bruce took off.
Such a wonderful indomitable spirit, always an inspiration to us.'
Message from Peter Toland:
Bruce and I were very good friends for the best part of 10-years. Lana and I have been best friends/soulmates since working together at ChCh International Airport from 2005 (I gave her away at her wedding) and it was through Lana and her dancing prowess that I first met Bruce. He was always especially fond of Lana, something he found impossible to hide even with his gentleman's discretion. She was deeply upset, as I was, when Grant Campbell relayed the news.
Bruce and I met most Sunday's for lunch and always celebrated our respective birthdays together with a mini-banquet at 'Sequoia 88' where he always managed at least two XL puddings no matter how many courses he'd had before that! His appetite was excellent until medical issues forced him to forego many food options. We had lunch at the Buddhist Temple, close to where he lived, shortly before I left for this 6-week holiday.
Bruce was meticulously organised in his personal and professional life, mentally A1 until he died. I can only assume he made arrangements for the inevitable but it never seemed appropriate to raise the subject. It was a joy talking with him because he was well-informed, articulate, and always ready to inject a little humour here and there. As mentioned below I had no idea there was any other living family member because he never once mentioned such a person, tho' he seemed well-known and popular in dancing and academic circles, as well as among the rural community where he spent much of his early life. Because we were both fond of travel Bruce and I had many interesting conversations about globe-trotting.
He was a quiet achiever not given to 'display'. I loved his quiet determination and shall never forget the story he told me how he and three of his cobbers once looked at far-away Mount Cook each declaring they would climb to the top of NZ's highest peak "one day". Well only one of those four men did reach the summit of Mount Cook. Bruce Tinnock was an eloquent, academic man, but he held firm to the belief actions speak louder than words.
I helped Bruce best I could with several previous medical 'episodes' and he put my name forward as contact person while in and out of St. George's Hospital in ChCh. He always requested "no visiting", preferring not to mix when he wasn't 100%. He never encouraged fuss and wasn't inclined to self-pity, a kind of inner strength I acknowledged and respected. I can't recall a single conversation where he didn't ask about Lana and her family, particularly Lana's young nephew Danil whom both Bruce and I once gave financial assistance to when the family were suddenly left high and dry in Australia about 7-years ago. The boy is currently studying at ChCh Boys High School where he shows much promise.
A selection from the comments from the Tango Christchurch Facebook page ...
Rosie: RIP dear Bruce so kind and generous with everyone. We will miss you very much
Brigid: Oh I am so sad to have this confirmed, and to be unable to come to dear Bruce's memorial milonga. I hope lots of instrumental tangos that he would have loved are played.He loved to dance so much and I think our community gave him much joy, as his kind familiar presence gave back.
Fee: Dance on darling Brucie ❤ we always got our three 😇 thank you xox
Denise: very sad! will always remember Bruce as he was one of the first persons i met here in Christchurch, over 15 years ago ❤️ RIP
Warren: Always the gentleman, always a happy greeting, always enthusiastic and passionate about the dance, always one of the tango family
Maureen: Gorgeous generous kind and helpful man who will be sorely missed by many including me. I was one of the many he helped when starting out tango and have treasured his friendship since. Rest In Peace my gentle shepherd. You are one of God’s flock now. Hope there’s lots of coloured wool up there.🐑💔🐑
Tony: A most generous man with his tango so passionate. Always had a positive attitude and his outlook on life was it was there for enjoyment. If you asked how he was he always said (pretty lucky Tony pretty lucky). Miss you Bruce
Link to Stuff.co.nz notices
A letter from Aki
I will miss you. I loved dancing milongas with you. I will cherish the memory of our little victories when we could catch the end of a song with a perfectly timed step or a dramatic pose.
You were always welcoming and sought to comfort new comers. I could always count on a big and warm welcome from you. Your generousness with beginners was an expression of your love for learning and sharing learning with others.
I knew you had other accomplishments, that you travelled internationally to judge sheep dogs and had musical interests which I now regret not having found out more. When I asked about judging recently, you had just said, 'Not so much any more' with a small laugh to comfort me and without drama moved on to the next song.
Thank you for continuing to dance through the thin and the thick and setting a great example for us.
I will remember you as a lovely gentleman with a sophisticated ear for music. May music and dance accompany you where ever you are.
In the clip below Bruce is dancing up the right hand side
(recorded by Frank at Michael and Sarah's a couple of years ago)
(recorded by Frank at Michael and Sarah's a couple of years ago)
A message from Andy and Cynthia:
As you know, we have been part of the Christchurch Tango scene sine the very early days with Emma at the ChCh Deaf Club Rooms, so we have known Bruce for a long time. We will miss him.
We did not know that Bruce had a terminal illness. We admire his fortitude until the end.
Over the years we had many talks about his career in the wool business, including his excitement about being asked to be a guest speaker at international conferences, and his enthusiasm for anything to do with sheep or the wool on their backs.
More recently, we often talked about his mustering days. After my climbs of Canterbury foothills, I looked forward to meeting Bruce at Wednesday's tango, and asking him about his local knowledge of farms and farmers in remote areas, which he loved to share.
Life goes on. We will not see Bruce again, but will remember him.
The clip on the right was taken on the night of
the tribute Milonga for Bruce, 16 May 2018.
It was a miserably wet night outside, a full house inside,
warm with dancing, memories and cake.
The music playing in the video is the tango vals
'Horas De Ensueño' played by Francisco Canaro orchestra,
a tune which Bruce particularly liked.
I will really miss Bruce.
Such a lovely man, kind and generous and unfailingly always there to help new tango dancers on to the floor. I visited him at his home a few times to share tango music - I made CDs for him and he let me borrow treasured cassette tapes of tango music he had collected over the years. The photo of Bruce in a striking dance pose in Buenos Aires with a hat on, is one I took when we went on a trip there with Gloria and Graham. The photo of Bruce playing the bandoneon was taken at the place we all stayed outside the tango studio there. He absolutely loved that bandoneon, couldn't wait to get his hands on it, and he worked out how to play it pretty quickly. Musically gifted as well. Very sad that we will no longer see Bruce physically on our tango dance floors but he will be there in all our hearts. Dance in the stars Bruce.