When Alec and I started dating in 2001, he was an apprentice under a composer named Bruce. They were scoring a children’s television show called Mentors. I remember thinking that my boyfriend had the coolest job. I worked in the financial industry doing cheque returns – not so glamorous. I was dating someone who not only loved their job, but it was their chosen profession. And he’d been doing it for several years at that point. I was barely into a full-time job & had a hard time committing to groceries, let alone a career.

It didn’t take long before I realized how much effort and pride went into Alec’s work – although my apartment was blocks away from the studio, there were very late nights and stretches of time that I didn’t see Alec much. Some of our early dates either began at 11pm when Alec finished work or I went to the studio to bring him dinner.

During one of my late night visits to the studio I met Bruce.

At 6 foot 5, he filled the doorway. His voice is kind. A voice with the ability to take over a room, but choses not to. Bruce dresses a little bit like James Bond. Of course when I see him, we are usually at events and he wears a suit. But it is a really nice suit. Bruce’s eyes tell you that when you speak, he really listens. The kind of eyes that don’t look away.

I loved going to see Alec at the studio. When I sat in Bruce’s chair, my feet didn’t touch the ground. There’s pictures of his wife and daughter around the rig. He was so excited when we got married and even more so when we got pregnant.

I remember the day Bruce met our daughter, Alec was no longer Bruce’s apprentice, he had his own studio up and running by then. Emmy was about a month old and her tiny head fit into the palm of Bruce’s hand. Bruce and his lovely wife Diana are parents to little Sophia, so when Alec entered into the world of Daddyhood, Bruce was a great source of information – kernels of knowledge of how our lives were going to change. The love for Diana and Sophia is clear every time he speaks of them.

It’s been one week. Seven days. I was loading the dishwasher and Alec came upstairs to tell me something awful had happened. Bruce was in the hospital in Vancouver. He had suffered cardiac arrest. I seriously cannot believe I just typed those words. My gut said to not worry. That everything would be fine. He was where he needed to be – a hospital and they would take care of him. He’d come home and tell us all about it. Over the next few hours, it became clear from the updates we were getting that things were far worse than I anticipated.

Thirty three hours passed between that dishwasher call and the call to let us know he didn’t make it. The man who was the biggest influence on Alec’s career was gone. I found myself reading to Emmy at nap time and breaking down because little Sophia will never hear her Daddy read to her again. That Alec’s work line won’t ring with the latest amusing story that when relayed to me, would either make me burst out laughing or roll my eyes. That never again would I see my favourite James Bond pour me a glass of wine at the next function. And then my heart nearly exploded for Diana. 

We had to explain to Emmy why we were so sad. Her reply was “Don’t worry, Booce not gone – he just died”. Who knew a three year old would be so wise and have the exact words to say to comfort her Daddy?

It is somehow fitting that when I met Bruce, the project he was working on was Mentors as that is exactly what he was to Alec. Hundreds of TV episodes and commercials, thousands of minutes of music. Bruce and Alec had a connection. They were more than colleagues, more than friends. I think Jann Arden said it best when she said “Maybe Jesus needed a piano player”.

Say not in grief: “He is no more”,

but live in thankfulness that he was.

Bruce Leitl 1963 – 2010

Greatly, greatly missed.


8 thoughts on “Mentors

  1. I worked with Bruce from about 1985 to 1987 during his live playing period with a few different bands. I have many fine memories and wonderful funny stories. I had not spoke to Bruce in quite sometime. Bless you my old friend

  2. Thank you so much for writing that lovely piece about my brother. He was a very talented, special and genuine man. You are right, he adored Diana and Sophia. He was a fantastic father. Not a second goes by that I don’t think about him. He did some wonderful things with his time on earth and that’s what keeps me going. Thank you again.

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