Bruce John Eveland passed away at his home on Thursday, June 3, 2021, at the age of 78. He was born to Bernadine and Gerald Eveland on February 11, 1943 and grew up in the small community of Backus surrounded by an incredible network of extended family and friends. It was here that he learned the joy of being in the woods or on the water, the value of hard work and ingenuity and a deep appreciation for small town life. After graduating from Backus Public Schools in 1961, Bruce earned certification from the University of Minnesota/Swedish Hospital School of X-ray Technology in Minneapolis.
While at Swedish Hospital Bruce met, courted and married Karen, his wife of 57 years. Following his graduation in 1963 the couple moved to Virginia, MN where Bruce worked as an x-ray technician in the Virginia Municipal Hospital. After two years the lure of his hometown drew his young family to Backus and Bruce started working as a heavy equipment operator for Hennepin Blacktop in New Brighton. During the five years of commuting to and from the Cities the family grew and eventually Bruce decided to work close to home and strike out on his own. The childhood lessons of hard work and ingenuity served him well as he moved into the entrepreneurial season of his life. In 1971 Bruce started the Sanitary Sewer Service, in 1977 the E-Z Lumber Company of Backus and the Hackensack Lumber and Hardware, in 1980 the Horsefly Ranch, in 1986 the Horsefly Ranch Bobcat Service, in 1989 the sales of outdoor stoves for Central Boiler, in 2005 Dairy Queens in South Dakota and eventually the Lunatic Land Company which included real estate adventures and the septic installation and inspection business that he continued until his death.
During these years Bruce was not only starting businesses, many of which are still serving the area today, but he also gave back to the community of Backus in a variety of other ways. Beginning in 1966 he was a member of the Backus Volunteer Fire Department and during that time served as fire chief as well as president of the Cayuna Fire Chiefs Association. He served as a council member and mayor of the Backus City Council. He was a committed member of several area churches and served on their church boards. He was a member of the original Solid Waste Board of Cass County, a voting delegate for county and state political conventions and a member of search committees for political positions. Bruce loved the Backus Fire Department annual smelt fry and if you attended over the previous 49 years he probably would have been talking you into your third or fourth helping of smelt! More recently he could be found serving and sharing Wednesday evening meals with youth attending Pine Mountain Gospel Church or hauling wood to help heat Foothills Christian Academy.
Bruce loved to fish and was always dreaming of his next trip. He was convinced that the farther north you fished the better the experience and relished his annual Canadian fishing trips with family. He rarely filled his deer tag the first weekend so that he had an excuse to spend additional quiet mornings and evenings in his stand at the old farm. He loved to make people smile and laugh by catching them off-guard and would often greet you with “Merry Christmas” on Valentine’s Day, “Happy New Year” on the Fourth of July, or by referring to you with a nickname of his choosing. This humorous yet gruff exterior was only a front to the soft spot he had for his neighbors and friends. While we hardly ever understood his jokes, he got the biggest chuckle out of retelling one he had heard at coffee with the boys, or recounting a story from his childhood. The better the story the harder it was for him to retell it as he was usually laughing so hard he could barely choke it out. Bruce loved the Lord, relied on His leading and was quick to help a neighbor in need. May these simple and universal truths remain guiding posts for us all.
Bruce was predeceased by his wife, Karen Eveland; parents, Gerald and Bernadine Eveland; stepmother, Gloria Eveland; and siblings, Randy Eveland and Shelby Ecker. He is survived by his daughter, Lisa (David) Krause; son, Brad Eveland; sisters, Linda (Robert) Smith and Dawne Eveland; and three grandchildren: Ailia, Lawrence, and Nelson Krause.
A memorial service will be held at 2 PM, June 13th at Pine Mountain Gospel with interment at Evergreen Cemetery in Backus, MN.