MONTVILLE — Bruce Whitney Willow, 77, of Montville died on March 10, 2022, at Waldo County General Hospital after a long struggle with congestive heart failure. He accepted his failing health with quiet grace and dignity, even insisting on sitting up to watch the sun rise every morning during his final days (while enjoying a good cup of coffee).

Bruce was born on Jan. 11, 1945, to Edward Hunt and Eleanor Johnson Hunt. He grew up in Ridgewood, N.J., where from a young age he dreamed of being a farmer and growing vegetables. He lived there until he attended American University for a year before being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served in Vietnam as a radio operator for 13 months in the late 1960s; this experience was a turning point in his life. He came to believe that the war was wrong, and upon returning to the U.S. joined Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

Bruce moved to the Bay Area in California, where he met Beatrice Weinberg, who would later become his wife. In celebration of starting a new life together, they chose the name Willow to be their new surname. They subsequently moved to many states, searching for a place to put down roots. Along the way they gardened and raised goats and chickens.

Their daughter Rebecca was born in New Mexico in 1972, and their son Gabriel in Tennessee in 1978. Upon reaching Maine in 1980 (to attend the Common Ground Fair), they realized they had found their home and community. They settled in Montville, where they gardened and planted an orchard, growing and preserving much of their own food.

When not busy homesteading, Bruce worked for many years as a carpenter and construction worker. He later pivoted to title abstracting, researching deeds first for the state of Maine, and then as an independent contractor with his own abstracting business. He was widely respected in his field. His true loves, however, were always his family and gardening. When asked upon his deathbed what to include in this obituary, he simply said to write that he loved his wife and children very much.

His life had many simple joys, but was also touched by tragedy: He lost his beloved daughter Rebecca to cancer when she was only 34.

In his later years, he and Bea traveled extensively in Latin America, including a trip to El Salvador as part of a MOFGA Sistering Committee that exchanged organic farming techniques. Although a man of few words, he was a kind, gentle and nourishing soul with a sly sense of humor.

He was a deeply thoughtful and philosophical person who loved to read. Buddhism and Hinduism were central themes; he also practiced meditation as a student of Shri Anandi Ma. He was a music lover and jazz aficionado, often listening to his favorite Coltrane and Sun Ra on vinyl. He also loved to cook, and was skilled in the kitchen, making wonderful vegetarian meals from homegrown produce.

Bruce is survived and deeply missed by his wife Bea, son Gabriel, grandson Jasper Connolly, and sisters Susan Roose and Betsy Leale, as well as many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his parents and his daughter Rebecca.

Memories and condolences may be shared with the family at ripostafh.com.

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