By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Moments in Time: Jim Bruce
Jim Bruce. To order this photo, click here. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Just because Jim Bruce got paid to do it, doesn't at all mean that his heart wasn't completely immersed in his career. He managed to come full circle with experiences working in three different media outlets, which he calls a wonderful career of service, achievement, friendships and more that he's still holding dear today.

He was born and raised in Dixon, Illinois, as an only child. He attended Dixon High School where he enjoyed sports like tennis, basketball and cross country and played percussion in the marching and concert bands.

Very early on, Bruce had a strong interest in creative things, and he admits he even had some talent.

"There wasn't a lot of family history in creativity," he said. "But I enjoyed taking a blank piece of paper and bringing it to life."

After he graduated from Dixon High School in 1956, Bruce planned to further his education, and to please his father, he attended Rockford Business College. It wasn't something that excited him, but he landed a job in an accounting department and spent more than a year working behind a desk.

"I still had energy to be with people and be around people," he said. He moved on to an opportunity that came in the insurance field in Dixon, where he found quick success.

It wasn't long before Bruce ran into some health issues that required surgery. During his recovery, Bruce had a chance to think about what he wanted to do with his life. Somewhere inside, he still felt that strong desire to be creative.

When a position came up at the Dixon Evening Telegraph with Shaw Newspapers, Bruce took it, working in the advertising department. His creative need was being satisfied: The advertising ideas combined with layout made a great outlet for him, and it wasn't long before he achieved recognition for his work.

The same people owned the Monroe Evening Times, and when Bruce saw an opportunity, he checked into it. In 1965, he came to Monroe knowing very little about the town, and he never left.

He recalls clearly the wonderful time when he was introduced to Monroe. Stores like ShopKo, Walmart and K-Mart didn't exist here. Monroe had a booming downtown and boasted a great location between bigger cities, making for a natural advertising trade. And Bruce had a front row seat as the small town blossomed and grew.

He recalls Friday nights on the Square, hardly being able to get around because of all of the people. He reveled in the atmosphere, the people, the friendliness and the warm welcome he received upon arrival.

"I fell in love with it right from the start," he said. "It was a feeling I had while following the moving van from Dixon to Monroe. As it turned out, it was far more than I could have ever scripted."

He also enjoyed the work and moved up the ranks quickly. He was promoted to advertising manager in 1966, general manager in 1975 and the dual position of general manager-editor in 1980. By January 1990, Bruce was elected vice president and appointed to the board of directors of Monroe Publishing Co. In all, he worked for the newspaper for 27 years.

"I feel very blessed to be here," he said. "Newspaper was my passion and that developed and grew. It reflected the area and the people. I had a chance to grow within the organization."

Bruce said he reached further than just selling ads. In 1985, Bruce kicked off what would be one of his biggest projects, naming it "Feelin' Good About Monroe" - a campaign to express thoughts on the newspaper business and the town it was highlighting. The promotion earned the Monroe Evening Times a citation from the Wisconsin State Assembly. There were mugs printed, buttons made, stories done but mostly, the campaign made people aware of all that Monroe had to offer. The excitement seemingly caught fire, and the Monroe Evening Times was awarded an award of excellence from the Wisconsin Newspaper Association. In 1987, the city approved a Jim Bruce Day. The same year, he was elected the president of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, serving on numerous WNA committees.

"I enjoyed being the ambassador for Monroe," he said. "In 1987, the area was growing. It was an exciting time. I was fortunate to be the catalyst."

"Monroe truly is very special," he said, noting that a city the size of Monroe holding onto a six-day daily newspaper is a testament to the supportive community.

Once retired, he didn't work for about three years. But, he said, he became bored quickly and decided to start his own business. In 1995, he began Network Cable Advertising with a vision to bring television advertising opportunities to the local market, and that year he joined with Cablevision of Greater Beloit as an independent contractor to make that happen. He provided local advertising time on local cable networks such as CNN, ESPN, USA, TNT and others.

In 2009, Bruce's career in media came full circle after going from print to television - he then moved on to radio where he's still working today. He joined the stations of Big Radio in its advertising and marketing department.

Throughout his career, Bruce was very much a part of the community and has been a part of numerous civic and community projects. He was active in seeking community support and funds for Monroe's first ambulance and served as an officer and a member of the board for Green County Emergency Medical Service.

Bruce has been involved with Cheese Days since he arrived in Monroe and is a past president. He joined Del Heins as the Grand Marshal in 2014 for the 100-year celebration. The event has been an ongoing, important part of Bruce's life. In his earlier days, he served as the publicity chairman and said the excitement he had for the event then was a perfect fit because he was so excited to share it with others.

He also has stayed active in the Apostolate to the Handicapped, served as a board member after becoming dear friends with Father Tom Campion, and embraced the cause to help get more community events in the newspaper.

He was appointed to Wisconsin's Year of the Family in Education Advisory Committee in 1987. Although he's not as involved now, he still helps out when he can.

Bruce was a member of the Rotary and served as president. He served as a director of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and was instrumental in helping reorganize the Chamber in the mid-1980s. He received the Chamber's president award in 1987.

He and his wife, Nancy, have been married 25 years and used to golf regularly and still enjoy traveling. Their faith is strong, and they are members of the Monroe United Methodist Church and also attend the Albany Methodist church.

He has grown friendships and seen opportunities in Monroe, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

"I would want that for everyone," he said. "That their "moment in time' would be a special remembrance."