Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Bruce Palma

June 22, 1948 - May 31, 2022
Grand Rapids, MI


Memorial Gathering

Tuesday, June 7, 2022
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Van Strien Creston Chapel
1833 Plainfield Ave., N.E
Grand Rapids, MI 49505
(616) 361-2613
Driving Directions


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Faith Hospice
8214 Pfeiffer Farms Dr. SW
Byron Center, MI 49315
(616) 235-5113
Driving Directions
Web Site

A local food pantry of your choice

Life Story / Obituary


As his family and friends can attest, Bruce Palma will be remembered for his sense of curiosity, insatiable thirst for knowledge, and unique sense of humor.

In 1948, Dick and Millie (Tolfsen) Palma excitedly welcomed their second baby boy, Bruce Richard, into their family at their home near College and Carrier on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids. Bruce was born on June 22 at Blodgett Hospital in East Grand Rapids. He was born only 16 months after his older brother, Michael, and so they were known as “two peas in a pod”, often being compared as twins because of their similar physical traits and personalities. Six years later, Bruce’s younger brother, Carl, was born. Bruce and Mike shared certain commonalities during their younger years, because of their closeness in age, but as Bruce and Carl grew during their teenage years, they became truly close and remained best friends throughout the rest of their lives.

From a young age, Bruce’s mother encouraged all of her boys to read. Unlike many youth of his age who were drawn to the excitement of television, Bruce spent his time in the Creston Branch Library choosing to pursue learning through his love of books. And instead of collecting baseball cards and comic books, Bruce would disassemble and rebuild electronics, out of curiosity and striving to learn about engineering and mechanics.

Bruce went to East Leonard Elementary and graduated from Creston High School in 1966. He went on to attend Grand Valley State College during the early years when the college was a commuter only school. When a college professor encouraged Bruce to pursue a career in the sciences, he decided to earn his Bachelor’s degree.

Bruce was an average student, but because of his love of reading, ravenous curiosity, and his voracious need for knowledge, Bruce became a self taught scholar, especially of the natural sciences. After graduation, Bruce found a job with the State of Michigan Health Lab which was located on Fuller Avenue in Grand Rapids. The lab eventually closed, and its location was moved to Lansing. Bruce commuted back and forth from Grand Rapids to Lansing for six years with 8 other co-workers who also worked at the State lab. Finally, tired of the commute during inclement weather and missing the hours he could be spending at his home on the Northeast side of Grand Rapids, Bruce moved to Lansing in 1987.

Bruce enjoyed working as a microbiologist and later as a mycologist for The State of Michigan Health Department. Some of His career involved testing for TB, identifying unexplainable disease cultures sent by doctors and hospitals from around Michigan, and processing specimens during the Anthrax outbreak in 2001. After working for the Michigan Health Department for 37 years, he retired, and moved to Allendale to be closer to his brother, Carl, and other members of his immediate family.

Bruce pursed several unique hobbies. His passion was constructing intricate, highly detailed paper models. These models are only available from overseas, and are sent as a flat book, with most of the instructions in foreign languages. There are many tiny paper pieces, some which need the accuracy of a magnifier to be carefully cut out and put together. Bruce was a true artist with this media.

Bruce loved nature, and was an expert on identifying specimens of flowers, trees, fungi, and especially bugs and insects (entomology).

Following along with his nature interest, he loved walking and hiking, and especially enjoyed biking on his recumbent bicycle.

Bruce liked to listen to Jazz music and drink fine wine as he created his own unique recipes for delicious homemade pizzas. He also enjoyed shortwave radio, and keeping current on world economics.

Bruce had a deep desire to travel. In their younger years, he and his brother, Carl, enjoyed traveling together and making unforgettable memories. Big Bend National Park to the Grand Canyon was one of their favorite trips. They also traveled to Maine, the East Coast, and to the Great Smoky Mountains, a place that was always near to Bruce’s heart because of the unique and scenic hiking trails.

Bruce took trips with his parents and other family members to Washington D.C., Florida, Colorado, and Disney World. He even trekked into the Grand Canyon with a group from The Sierra Club.

When Bruce, his brother, Carl, and sister-in-law, Sue, came into their retirement years, the three of them traveled extensively. They vacationed together in several places throughout Michigan, Alabama, Florida, Gatlinburg,Tennessee, Williamsburg,Virginia, several Southern states with historical Civil War sites and battlefields, and up and down the East Coast. Bruce always found new and unique places for the traveling trio to sightsee and explore. These were wonderful trips, and Bruce loved not only the destinations, but even more so the camaraderie and enjoyment of being with family.

Bruce was a private and quiet individual, preferring quality relationships rather than a large quantity of friendships. Though he will be sadly missed, he leaves behind a priceless legacy and many memories which will be shared for generations to come.

Bruce R. Palma, age 73 of Grand Rapids and formerly of Lansing, passed away May 31, 2022 after a short illness. Bruce was preceded in death by his parents, Dick and Mildred Palma, and by his brother, Michael Palma. Bruce is survived by his brother Carl (Sue) Palma; and nephew Carl (Lindsey) Palma Jr. He loved to travel, especially with family. He had a thirst for knowledge and was an avid reader, pursuing his interests in wine, cars and economics as well as a love for the natural world, especially in fields of botany and entomology. Bruce worked for the Michigan Health Department for 37 years, primarily in roles of microbiologist and mycologist. Additionally, he enjoyed bicycling, walking, hiking and building his paper models. A memorial gathering will be held on Tuesday, June 7 from 6-8 PM at Heritage Life Story Funeral Home – Van Strien Creston Chapel. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to either Faith Hospice Trillium Woods or a local food pantry of your choice. To read more about Bruce, to share a memory or photo, or to sign his guestbook, visit www.heritagelifestory.com