CHEVY CHASE, MD – Warm, gentle, friendly, a man of incredible integrity, devoted, passionate…
These were just some of the words people used Friday to describe Hal Bruno, fire service legend, political journalist and advocate for survivors of fallen firefighters.
There was no shortage of Hal stories. Recounted by fire service officials, ABC news personalities, colleagues and sons, the vignettes brought smiles and laughter.
It was noted that Bruno, an ABC political news director for decades, died on an election day and his memorial service was being held at 11 a.m. on 11/11/11.
“Who else do you know would spend part of the night handing out coffee to firefighters battling a multi-alarm fire in the nation’s capital, and a few hours later be at his desk preparing to moderate a debate between three men running for vice president?” said Dennis Compton, chairman of the board of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
He went on to say that Bruno was just as happy sitting at the kitchen table in the firehouse hearing about the big one as he was sitting with Ted Koppel, David Brinkley and Peter Jennings talking about who the next president would be.
“…We understood who the real Hal was. The Hal who knew in his heart he was a great firefighter who just happened to have a side job as a journalist covering the political scene in Washington.”
Bruno’s son, Harold, gave those gathered at Temple Shalom a glimpse of how it was at home. “We lost a few vacations over Watergate,” he noted.
He spoke of his father’s passion for skiing, fishing, hikes and attending sporting events, especially his beloved Cubs.
Harold recalled it was often difficult trying to do his homework with his father’s bluegrass band, “Informed Sources,” holding jam sessions in the basement.
Fellow ABC political commentator Cokie Roberts said Bruno was a mentor to many, and a stickler for detail. He realized that it was important to reach out to politicians on a local level to really get a handle on the pulse of voters.
At the Bethesda-Chevy Case Rescue Squad on Friday afternoon as family and firefighters mingled, the Montgomery County pipe and drum band played.
Former U.S. Sen. Paul Sarbanes described Bruno’s work not only to get the NFFF established, but to make sure it succeeded. He said he was impressed that the number of firefighter deaths have been going down.
The best tribute tribute to Bruno, he said, would be to continue to reduce the number of firefighter deaths.
The celebration of Bruno’s life concluded with a slideshow where he’s seen on the slopes with his family, shaking hands with presidents, assisting at fire scenes and consoling families.