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A Friend of Animals is Good Oak

In many elegant ways, Bruce Luecke was a lot like Aldo Leopold. A lover of native prairie and the animal kingdom, Bruce trained as a doctor of veterinary medicine allowing him to give focus to his chief ethical concern that we care for our fellow creatures’ lives as we care for our own. Luecke devoted his life to this care, until he passed in 2021 in the early morning hours of his 74th birthday.

On a soothing spring afternoon earlier this month, Susan Freiss—Bruce’s wife and other great love—her son Ben and his partner Sara visited the Leopold Shack to commemorate Luecke’s legacy gift to the Leopold Foundation, and to celebrate his posthumous entrance into the Good Oak Society.

According to Susan, Bruce was devoted to animals, wild and domestic. He shared his life with a series of very happy Shetland sheepdogs.

Bruce’s favorite picture of himself, taken in Wales where he delighted in getting to know a young eagle owl.

 Bruce was also in his element when taking care of things, planning, and building. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, and attended Grinnell College as an undergraduate. He obtained his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Missouri, and worked for the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in the 1980s.

Susan and Bruce loved to explore wild places together, and they discovered many in Wisconsin and beyond. 

Another Leopoldian quality Bruce shared was his concern for our relations between each other, and his willingness to take action to make things better. In Bruce’s later working years, as a special education assistant with the Madison Metropolitan School District, he enjoyed supporting children with special needs and those who had experienced trauma.

From left, Ben, Susan, and Sara outside the Shack.

The Aldo Leopold Foundation family is humbled and honored to know that the foundation held a special  place in Luecke’s heart. We can never thank him properly for his surpassing generosity in bequeathment to our ongoing work stewarding the land community and fostering the land ethic. But we can say that Bruce will always hold a special place in our hearts as well.