Bruce E. Thornblad

Bruce E Thornblad

1951 – 2020 


Bruce Thornblad, my fascinating husband, died unexpectedly on December 10, 2020.   The facts are:

  • He was born the second son of Bernard and Elaine (Hultquist) Thornblad and was raised in Oakland and later Omaha, NE. His family vacationed regularly in Estes Park, CO.
  • He attended Westside Schools in Omaha where he made lifelong friends. After graduating in 1969 from Westside High School, he first studied at Dana College in Blair, NE and then at the University of Nebraska in both Omaha and Lincoln.
  • After working in a bicycle shop, on a surveying crew for the Department of Roads and getting a realtor’s license, he became an independent home builder and residential investor, following in his father’s footsteps.
  • He married me, Kathie Sparks, in 2001, gaining mother-in-law Violet Sparks, brother-in-law Scott Sparks and his wife, Linda and their children, Lauren and Sam, all of Plattsmouth, NE.

He leaves behind family who love him dearly and whom he truly treasured.  First, his brother Paul, his wife, Nancy, and their three children; Matt and his wife, Corey (Brown) of Arlington, VA and their children, Lillian and Aedan; Kristin and her husband, Henry Chen and their daughters, Sarah and Amy of Omaha; Shannon and her husband, Will Hailer and their son, Robert of Arlington, VA.; and Vi, Scott, Linda, Lauren and Sam, all of Plattsmouth, listed above.

He fascinated me because he was endlessly curious, stubbornly independent and absolutely devoted to family and friends.  For instance…

Bruce’s interests were wide ranging:  English literature, architecture, music, art, philosophy, mathematics, finance, computers, wind generators, solar power, quantum mechanics, electric vehicles, photography, Asian culture, French culture, cooking and the natural world.   He would focus on a subject that interested him until he knew enough and then move on to his next interest without forgetting what he’d learned.  And he was willing to share what he knew whether it was helping friends and family with computer problems or household repairs or a shared field of interest…Photography? Travel Shows? Cassoulet? Frank Lloyd Wright buildings, anyone?

In 2002, his “if you want to” response to my asking about hosting a French girl through Rotary International’s Student Exchange program led to expanding our family.  Maud Loriquet has been our much loved ‘French daughter’ ever since.  Bruce thoroughly enjoyed gaining the friendship/familyship of the Loriquet and Aupetit families in France and having ‘French grandchildren’, Faustine and Baptiste after Maud Loriquet married Julien Aupetit in 2011.  It also inspired a membership in Alliance Francaise d’Omaha where Bruce served as treasurer for 10 years.  The Alliance introduced us to delightful fellow Francophiles and expanded our knowledge of French culture and language.

It was Bruce’s curiosity and independence that allowed us to travel independently.  Because he was willing to drive, we could explore the US and parts of Europe by ourselves as well as with family and invaluable friends.

I could go on about the love of my life, but it must suffice that many will miss Bruce, who made us smile, could fix almost everything, cook almost anything, and provided unconditional love.

A celebration of Bruce’s life will be announced at a later date. Memorials are suggested to the Rocky Mountain Conservancy (, to honor his love of Colorado and the environment.



  • CarrieLynn Howard Posted December 12, 2020 5:48 pm

    My dear your lost runs deep and I will keep him in my thoughts as I have over the years of both him and Paul
    They were such joy in my life. It is so sad time came between us and moved on so quickly.
    He.truly was a wonderful person
    Rest in peace dear Bruce..

  • Paul Brownlee Posted December 12, 2020 6:00 pm

    Kathy, we are so saddened with Bruce’s passing. I always enjoyed his company at family events. He is already missed!
    Paul & Tracey

  • Edy Salenger (Gordon) Posted December 12, 2020 9:36 pm

    Bruce was an amazing and gentle man. I feel so fortunate to have had him for a cousin – he was always kind and loving. He will be missed. My sincere condolences.

  • Ron Austin Posted December 12, 2020 10:34 pm

    My condolences to you and your family at this time. My prayers are with you.

  • Pat Michael Posted December 12, 2020 10:52 pm

    Kathie, I can’t begin to express my sorrow for you and for the world at large with Bruce’s loss. He was always my much loved cousin, even when we didn’t see each for years, As we have grown older and especially losing Mom just over a week ago I realize that time is short and family shouldn’t let life get between. I’m sorry we lost touch over the years but I have never lost my love for Bruce. I was so happy for him when he met and married you as I could see how happy you made him. – Pat

  • Cathy and Steve Walling Posted December 13, 2020 8:55 am

    You have captured the essence of the man perfectly. Our hearts are broken. We miss him so much. We love you both.

  • Mike and Carol Sorensen Posted December 13, 2020 9:27 am

    There will never be another like Bruce. I loved him.

  • Judy Petersen Posted December 13, 2020 2:30 pm

    We fellow Hultquist offspring are saddened to learn of our cousin Bruce’s passing. We want to extend our heartfelt condolences to you Kathie, and to the rest of the Thornblads. Thank you for sharing your lovely tribute; we will remember Bruce with fondness! With love from Judy and Mark Petersen (Degner family)

  • Susie jackson costanzo Posted December 13, 2020 5:37 pm

    I am truly sorry to hear of Bruce’s passing. He was a fun guy and a friend that I will never forget. Prayers of peace, comfort and eternal hope for you all. Hugs

  • SAM RYAN Posted December 13, 2020 8:49 pm

    Bruce’s family and mine lived across the street from each other’s in Rockbrook. As we were in the same grade in school, I went to Valley View and Westside with Bruce. I enjoyed every visit I had with Bruce over the yesrs. Mostly at Westside reunions. Bruce was quite an accomplished person. Thank you, Jathie, for the biography of Bruce’s life. You two sounded great together. I’m sorry for your loss. Sincerely, Sam

  • Jim Underwood Posted December 14, 2020 5:21 am

    I was stunned to hear about Bruce. My condolences to you Kathie and to Paul and Nancy. Bruce was a kind, gentle man and I was lucky to share so many memories and conversations with him. I will miss him so much.

  • Bob Belknap Posted December 14, 2020 10:29 pm

    We had such fun in band and with the “Sounds Unlimited” jazz band. Thank you for your wonderful life and blessings and comfort for your wife.

  • Elizabeth McInerney Posted December 15, 2020 10:49 am

    Dear Kathie– Knowing Bruce and you through the Alliance Française, we are so very sorry to hear of your loss– he was a wonderful person, always friendly and kind, and always something interesting to talk about! He made wherever he was a better place to be… I was always happy when I saw that you folks were signed up for an event. His contributions to the Alliance during his ten years as our financial guru live on– he did so much for the organization and its future. We are shocked and saddened and the world is a poorer place today. Sending our sympathies and our very best wishes to you and yours.
    Envoyé avec mes condoléances les plus sincères et mes sentiments les plus chaleureux–
    Beth McInerney

  • Jody Neathery-Castro Posted December 15, 2020 11:09 am

    So sorry to hear of Bruce’s passing; we send our condolences to Kathie and the whole family. What a special man whose personality was captured well in this loving memorial. We enjoyed chatting with him at the Alliance Francaise events and appreciated his service to the AF and lovely personality.

  • Alice Wilson Posted December 15, 2020 2:43 pm

    My sincere condolences. I am so sorry for your loss. I will miss seeing at the Alliance events.

  • Bob and Jane Patterson Posted December 15, 2020 6:40 pm

    We were so sorry to hear of Bruce’s passing. We became friends during our Wednesday morning coffees at Vidlaks and admired and envied all of your travels. Those trips will be wonderful memories that we will always keep in our hearts.

  • Don Otis Posted December 16, 2020 11:33 am

    You have captured the essence of Bruce, a true Renaissance Man who loved life and capturing new knowledge wherever he could, taking great joy in exploring the unknown and making it known. He will forever be in our hearts and memory.

  • Dean B Thornblad Posted December 19, 2020 10:04 pm

    I have nothing but the fondest of memories of my cousin Bruce. I regret that I didn’t spend more time with him in these latter years. Thank you Kathie for writing such a beautiful tribute.

  • Bob Roberts Posted March 4, 2021 6:17 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss, Kathy.

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