Sadly, I have to report the death of Bruce Brakenhoff Sr at the age of 80 of a heart attack on Friday, June 15th, 2012 at his home in Jamestown, RI.
Over 50 years ago, Bruce started his career with Orienta Marine, was a Vice President of Northrop and Johnson, and co-founded Bartram and Brakenhoff in 1967 with his partner and friend Joe Bartram.
Bruce grew up in Larchmont, NY and moved to Jamestown, RI in 1985. He was a past Commodore of the Conanicut Yacht Club in Jamestown, a member of Storm Trysail Club and an ex-member of Larchmont Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club, as well as the Ethics Committee Chairman for the Yacht Broker’s Association of America for over 20 years, and Treasurer of the American Yacht Charter Association. He was a mainstay in the industry, and wrote and created some of the original charter contracts, regulations and practices that are still in existence today.
Bruce is survived by his wife of 60 years, Noel H. Brakenhoff, his son Bruce R. Brakenhoff Jr., and his daughter Betsy Brakenhoff Hickey, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Kevin Merrigan, President of Northrop & Johnson pays tribute: 'Bruce was a traditional “by the book” honest Yankee. His reputation for honesty and hard work is legendary in the industry, working on the YABA ethics and contract committees, he could strike fear into a young brokers heart. As a junior broker, you quickly learned to know your facts and have your ducks in a row before you spoke with Bruce!
'Bruce guided many of us through our careers, including his very successful son, Bruce Jr. He has raised a wonderful family, been an active member in his community professionally and locally, a respected Commodore of the Conanicut Yacht Club, and a wonderful friend. Bruce led a very successful life on all fronts and will be greatly missed. It has been an honour and a privilege to know Bruce and the Brakenhoff family all these years. Godspeed Bruce.'
Alex Clarke at Denison Yacht Sales worked for Bartram & Brakenhoff and says, 'Bruce partnered up with my uncle Joe Bartram years ago, and some of my best memories as a child were growing up around yachts in Marion, MA & the Newport, RI areas. Bruce was my uncle's left hand. He was a pioneer in the industry and loved by everyone who met him. One thing I was told over & over by my uncle is that you cannot substitute experience with a piece of paper, and Bruce was full of knowledge and a teacher to all of us. Always a great person to turn to for advice, he will be missed by everyone.'
Jeff Partin at Fraser Yachts says, 'The first thing Bruce ever said to me was with some degree of scepticism, "so you want to be a yacht broker?" I replied yes and he responded, "we'll see..." He guided me through my very first deal and remained a mentor during my 4.5 years at Bartram and Brakenhoff. Bruce was old school, loveably gruff and had a great laugh.'
Another Bartram & Brakenhoff alumni is Jonathan Chapman, now at Northrop & Johnson who says, 'I knew Bruce well and considered him a genuine friend. We actually shared an office together for a few years at Bartram and Brakenhoff where I learned a lot from him and respected him greatly. As a Gentleman Broker for over 50 years, I’d sometimes introduce Bruce as one of the Founding Fathers of our industry: he’d smile and downplay it all, but he really was. I will miss him.'
And the final word goes to David C. Lacz, Principal of Bartram & Brakenhoff: 'Bruce has been like a guiding light since I purchased B&B in 1998 and although he will be dearly missed, the light will always stay there.'
A memorial service will be held in July.