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Bruckner dies after lengthy illness

David E. Bruckner, a 37-year veteran of the West Fargo Police Department, died Sunday, June 10, 2007, at MeritCare Hospital Palliative Care in Fargo, following a battle with cancer. He was 64.

Bruckner was diagnosed with a melanoma in 1999 and after being announced cancer free five years later, was diagnosed with the disease again in December of 2004. Since that time he has been undergoing treatment.

Bruckner was born in Fargo and graduated from Shanley High School, followed by three years of service in the U.S. Navy and two years of college at North Dakota State University.

Prior to joining the West Fargo Police Department, he was employed by the Fargo Police Department, serving as a volunteer with the Fargo Auxiliary Police in 1964; hired as one of the first civilian dispatchers in 1966, and as a police officer in 1967.

Bruckner had the distinction of being the longest serving officer in West Fargo history, starting his career with the Department April 1 of 1968 as a patrol officer, only one of three employees that included Les Lindblad as chief of police and Rodger Whitehead as sergeant. Bruckner was eventually named assistant chief, and following reorganization the title was changed to Captain, a position he held for 20 years. He also served as acting Chief of Police from 1994 to 1995, when Police Chief Ken Hansen was debilitated by a stroke and before present Police Chief Arland Rasmussen came on board. Bruckner retired in May of 2005.

During his tenure, Bruckner was also involved in a number of other police related areas, serving as one of the first members of Triad in 1997; with the Law Enforcement Museum Committee at Bonanzaville; as a member of the Safe Communities Coalition of the Red River Valley for more than 15 years; assisting with the West Fargo Citizen Police Academy; and as a member of the North Dakota Peace Officers' Association (NDPOA) and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).

Bruckner was also a staunch supporter and hands-on member of the DUI Task Force, formed in 1984, which became the Traffic Safety Task Force in 1990 and the Safe Communities Coalition in the Red River Valley in 2001. Actively involved in the organizations committees and activities, he was most recently appointed to the Coalition's Executive Committee in October of 2004.

Bruckner was described by peers as an "irreplaceable asset to the Coalition, helping to promote its mission of child passenger safety, enforcement of seat belt and DUI laws and preventing youth access to alcohol, and instrumental in bringing about change in the community in these areas."

West Fargo Police Chief Arland Rasmussen remembered Bruckner "as a friendly, caring leader and friend who will be missed by all. Dave was a true gentleman who treated people with respect," Rasmussen said. "Mild mannered and thoughtful, he was always watchful for the best for the citizens and for his fellow workers."

"He enjoyed the community, the Department and his family. He was the working officer's friend and although he obtained the rank of Captain, he never forgot his roots and the time he spent working the streets as a patrol officer," Rasmussen. "He had great influence on many, many officers he had the privilege of welcoming into the West Fargo Police Department."

Survivors include Bruckner's wife of 39 years, Marilyn; son David of West Fargo; daughter, RaShelle (Mrs. Robert) Armstrong and children Robbie, Krissie and Jesse of Manhattan, Kan.; and his sister, Elizabeth Kress of West Fargo.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, June 15, at Faith Lutheran Church, West Fargo with burial at Riverside Cemetery in Fargo.

A complete obituary appears on page 6 of today's Pioneer.