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Gather 'round the (Virtual) Campfire:

Stories from Camp Read's Past


Bill Brucker

December 10, 1947 - May 12, 2024

As eulogized by Dick Trier, May 21, 2024.

With additional contributions from Jim Smith and Tom Dietz.

Billy Graham was walking down a street looking for the Post Office.  A young boy was approaching and Billy asked him if he knew where the Post office was.  The boy gave him directions and Reverend Graham thanked him and said come to church tonight and I will show you how to find Heaven.  With that the boy replied: heck mister, you don’t even know where the Post Office is and you’re gonna show me how to find Heaven?

I’m not sure but I think Billy Graham must have met little Bill Brucker because this kid:

  1. Immediately tried to help him!

  2. Also had a smart aleck comment to make!

My almost lifelong friendship with Bill started when Bill’s family moved to the White Plains, NY area around 1960.  Bill’s parents wanted Bill and his brother Bob to get involved in Scouting and found out about Explorer Post 2 in Elmsford where I was a member along with Jack and Bob Neely, the Sullivan brothers, and a lot of other great friends.  Through some great leaders there, including Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Neely, and Mr. Brucker, our Post did well and we worked on becoming Eagle Scouts.


In one instance, Bill and I took Lifesaving Merit Badge.  One test was to “rescue” a victim using the “cross chest carry”.  So I went first and rescued Bill.  Bill had to rescue me and in Bill’s unique style, as he reached me in the pool he whispered: “lie still or I’ll rip every hair out of your chest!”  He got my attention, I behaved but don’t think that hair ever grew back. 


(Continued below pictures)

Bill Brucker Grandpa
Bill Brucker & Dick Trier_edited.jpg
Bill Brucker Wedding

Through our love of Scouting, we both became staff members at Camp Read in Brant Lake, New York. Our Camp Director, Jim Smith, became our mentor and showed us and many other staff members back in the 60’s how we could effectively impact the lives of many young people, using the values of the Scout Oath and Law, in an exciting and fun camping experience.  Those years brought us together with great lifelong friends like, Rich Lutomski, Tom Dietz, Denis Pisanello, Dominick Lagonegro, and many others.

Jim Smith was unable to join us today but noted that he met Bill when Bill (the father) (who was Jim’s Camping and Activities Committee Chair) and Caroline (the Mom) invited Jim over for dinner. He met young Bill and based on many recommendations, hired Bill for the Waterfront Staff at Camp Tomahawk where he served admirably for many years, never complaining about the challenging work and long hours.  Jim always referred to the waterfront staff as the “brown and serve” boys, as their uniform most of the time was swim trunks.

Bill made the staff more effective for what he did and who he was.  His guitar playing and singing where an addition to the overall success of the Dining Hall and Campfire programs.  Bill studied in the same American Humanics program for Youth Group Leadership as Jim, and joined the Professional Scouting Staff of the Washington Irving Council as a District Executive along with Dick in 1969.

Dick writes that part of our duties found ourselves serving as Camp Directors at the Curtis S. Read Scout Reservation with our wives. As Salem College’s Humanics program attracted many young folks interested in camp programs. Bill and I thought it was a great excuse for a recruitment “road trip” so away we went to Salem, West Virginia.

Now, truth be told, there were occasions in our lives when we thought that the points of the Scout Oath and Law might be multiple choice.  On this road trip to Salem, I was driving Bill’s council car while having profound discussions about scouting and how we might change the world.  Bill happened to look over at the speedometer and said “don’t you think you are going a little fast?”  I looked down and realized that I was hitting ninety-five miles an hour!  The police officer agreed with Bill.  The officers told us that there was usually jail time relating to such an infraction.  With our lives passing in front of us, two state police cruisers had us follow them to the local judge.

An elderly lady (probably 50) held court on the back porch of her house in Nowhere, PA and read us the riot act.  We thought our career with the BSA (as convicted felons) were over, that our wives Roberta and Kathy would not visit or post bail, none of us had any money.  After a two hour lecture we were released with a $15. Fine.  We made those troopers and that judge’s day. 

Well, about 50 years have passed since that time.  Bill changed careers a few times, while he and Kathy continued their life together in New Jersey.  Roberta and I traveled around New York and Michigan while I continued my career with the BSA.  But, wherever we were, we have always stayed best friends with trips to Alaska and weeks in Indian Lake in the Adirondacks.  Of course we attended reunions and fishing weekends at CSR with our great friends from our days on staff.  And now I guess we have come full circle.

Upon retirement, Bill joined many of his camp buddies and became active with the Camp Read Association.  He served as VP Activities helping with planning and leading a number of Hike, Fishing and Work Weekends at Camp Read.

Tom recalls Bill asking if he could bring a good friend to a fishing weekend saying that he was just like us and would fit in.  So Bill Fyffe, who worked with Bill at the Ace Hardware, also liked to fish and came along to a few of our weekends. We already had 3 other Bill’s on the first weekend that Bill Fyffe joined us so we asked if he had a nick name. He paused and thought for a moment, said no, not really, and turned to walk away. Then he stopped turned to me and said Yes, “Barney”. So he became Barney Fyffe, Bill Langham became Will, and Bill became “Mustang Brucker”. We let Bill Daley be Bill since he was the President.

At last year’s (September 30, 2023) Hike/fish weekend, Jim Smith was honored for being the Creator of Camp Read Culture of Quality Program and Comradery. Jim’s influence was so profound that he was responsible for getting five young men involved in Professional Scouting. Bill and Dick were two of them.


Bill wrote the following as his tribute to Jim:

“Three people have made a significant and positive influence on my life; and Jim you are one of them. I never dreamed that joining the Tomahawk Staff (back in 1969, I think) would have such a lasting impact on my life.  During that time, I learned more about Principled Leadership and the Power of Teamwork than anywhere else.  Leadership and Teamwork Courses in college were just a review of what I learned at camp.  And these skills have served me well throughout my career and personal life. And Jim, you had everything to do with that.

"The staff you built has largely become a Band of Brothers that have spanned the years.  Many of us are here tonight. We are all deeply in debt to you for Leadership, Mentorship, and most important of all, your Friendship! We are your Legacy and Living Proof that You Have Made a Difference!”

What Bill said to Jim, most definitely applies to Bill as well. For he too has made a difference in Scouting and Life!

From all your staff buddies at Camp Read, thanks Bill for being a great Leader and Friend, and for all the good times and memories.  Whenever we sing we will think of, and sorely miss, your beautiful voice and unique harmony. 

Dick concluded the Eulogy:

“You know, Billy Graham may not have helped that little boy find heaven, but there is no doubt in my mind that our buddy Bill truly did find Heaven on Earth through his love of nature, love of all his friends, and most of all his love of family.  Rest in Peace, Dear Friend, You will always have a special place in our hearts.”


Bill’s Family has requested donations be made to the Camp Read Association in memory of Bill.

Memorial donation forms are available for download on the website.

Checks can be sent to:


Bill Daley, President, 3220 Mohegan Ave., Mohegan Lake, NY 10547. 


Make checks out to “Greater Hudson Valley Council, BSA or GHVC, BSA”; and write CRA in memo line.


Condolences can be sent to Bill’s wife at:

Kathy Brucker, 168 High Street, Somerville, NJ 08876.

You can read the Obituary and see a slideshow of pictures of Bill and his loved ones throughout the years here.

For generations, summer after summer, scouts have been making memories at Camp Read. In 2020, the pandemic may have forced regular activities to pause, but campers from years gone by are sharing their stories here in an effort to fill in the gap. Read on to get your fix of Camp Read hijinks until we can safely fill a parade ground once more!


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