McDonnell M. Bruce, 51, chef, conservationist

December 29, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

McDonnell Marshall "Mac" Bruce, a retired chef and endangered wildlife conservationist, died of complications from appendicitis compromised by liver failure Dec. 22 at University of Maryland Medical Center. The Sparks resident was 51.

Born in Baltimore, he was the youngest son of Baltimore author and African wildlife conservationist Betty Leslie-Melville, who survives him. He moved with his parents to Nairobi, Kenya, as an 8-year-old and spent most of his childhood there.

Mr. Bruce attended the University of Hartford, where he performed and sang in the chorus of an Up With People touring company in the early 1970s. He later earned a bachelor's degree in film and video from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and was an assistant editor on several films.

Mr. Bruce spent his early professional years helping to establish and run the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife Inc., which he administered for more than decade from an office in Roland Park.

He divided his time between Baltimore and Kenya and helped to protect the endangered Rothschild giraffe and black rhinoceros. He also worked to establish an African wildlife refuge in Texas, specifically to protect the rhino from the poaching that had reduced its native population in Africa. The animals brought there died, however, because of a complication involving the soil.

In 1976, while attending a university in Nairobi, Mr. Bruce met his future wife, Dr. Eve Weinstein. Their 1982 marriage ended in divorce.

Mr. Bruce developed an interest in the culinary arts, and in 1995 earned a diploma from the Baltimore Culinary Arts Institute. He cooked at the Baltimore County Club, the old Polo Grill and Graul's Market. He was last a chef at Wheeler House, a Jesuit priests' residence in Charles Village.

He also played guitar and drums in local garage bands.

"He had a way with people and animals - a magnetism and a generous spirit, too," said his sister, Dancy Bruce Mills of Baltimore. "I recall the time he caught a fly ball at Oriole Park and immediately handed it to a little boy in front of him. He never thought about keeping the ball for himself."

Mr. Bruce worked recently as a volunteer with addicts at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup. He was a member of and volunteer for Alcoholics Anonymous and spoke on the problems of drinking.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. Jan. 8 at the Gramercy Mansion Carriage House, 1400 Greenspring Valley Road, Stevenson.

In addition to his mother and sister, survivors include a son, Jock Byron Bruce; a daughter, Betty Coale Bruce; a stepson, Michael Behrens; and a stepdaughter, Alice Devaney. All are of Baltimore. He also is survived by a brother, Rick Anderson of Nairobi; and three step-grandchildren.

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