Edon Ohio is a small farming town in Northwest Ohio that is very close knit and Bruce and his wife Eileen “Gus” Kannel are fixtures in this community. When asked what anchored them to stay here all these years their response was as follows,” It all lies in the friendliness of everyone here.”
Bruce was adopted by Dean and Eileen Kannel at the age of six weeks old and brought from the Toledo, Ohio to be raised in this rural setting. His younger sister, Susan was adopted two years later and welcomed into the same household.
Bruce’s father taught school in Edon where he owned the local hardware and served a term as President of the Edon State Bank, where he was also on the Board of Directors. His mother taught in the Kunkle school system and was also known for her fine oil paintings.
He attended Edon Northwest Schools from kindergarten through grade twelve and graduated with the class of 1962. His favorite teacher was in the fifth grade and her name was Ethel Kulman. During these years the fondest memories Bruce has is all of the lifetime friends that he made.
After graduation Bruce attended barber college and spent the next few years in a shop in downtown Edon on the west side of the main road through town.
In 1964 Bruce and Eileen were joined in Holy Matrimony. Over the next eight years they were blessed with three children, David Bruce, Jr., Douglas L. and Lynne Kannel Nofziger. They also have five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Bruce went to work at the Spangler Candy Company in Bryan, Ohio in 1973 and retired from there in 2009. During these years he also owned a landscaping company along with his son David.
Bruce has also been the village Santa Claus for almost 40 years and has also played the part of Santa at many other Christmas activities over this period.
In the late 1970’s, Bruce, Gus and their oldest son David decided to start doing a little research to see if they could find Bruce’s birth parents. As an adopted child, it is not unusual for the curiosity to be there to answer a lot of questions and to get some piece of mind.
So David put Bruce’s name out into the world of cyber tech to see what might come of it. Through this process a cousin of Bruce’s on his birth mother’s side of the family saw his name and called a relative and said “I think you might have a brother.”
David and Gary, Bruce’s new brother, got in touch by way of the telephone and had a three hour conversation. Gary said that he wanted to talk to Bruce so it was set up to have a three way conversation that lasted for two hours. During that talk Bruce found out that he had three brothers and a sister from his biological family. Bruce has had the pleasure of meeting all of them. Two brothers live in New Jersey, one brother in Indiana and the sister lives in Cape Cod.
They all had the pleasure of getting together at the brother’s house in Indiana. They had supper, talked, laughed, cried, and shared a lot of pictures and hugs.
Bruce also found out that his biological grandfather was a full-blooded Shawnee Indian.
It has been a tremendous blessing to Bruce after all these years to discover his family. He will always be grateful to his adoptive parents for being his mom and dad and for the opportunity to be raised in such a fine environment as he was.
In November of 2011 Bruce received the tragic news that he had cancer. Upon receiving this news he couldn’t help but be overcome with tears and fear. He was immediately scheduled for surgery and that procedure took place in December of that same year. The doctors had to remove the upper lobe of the right lung and his left kidney was removed completely.
It has since been discovered that Bruce has cancer in his other kidney and lung. He is taking chemotherapy drugs and that is keeping everything in remission at the present time.
At the time of this latest discovery the doctors told Bruce that he had six months to live. That was three years ago this past December.
Bruce says he is not limited in his day to day activities and has learned to just take it one day at a time. This certainly gives one a new perspective on life and Bruce says “Enjoy every second you have in this life, because you just never know what may lie in the future”.
He says the support that he has had from his family, his church, his friends and the community, have been overwhelming. Without this group of folks, he’s not sure where he would be today.
The cost of all of these treatments, etc. even for someone with insurance is overwhelming, totaling close to $15,000 per month. But Bruce illustrates a very positive attitude through it all.
Being raised in the Edon United Methodist Church and attending on a regular basis as a youth and then not going for many years, this has all led him back into his church where he is a vital part of that congregation. Bruce says, “God was there all the time.”
Bruce is planning on enjoying his retirement years with his wife “Gus”, and his family, which has grown in the discovery that was made of his biological brothers and sister, and with his friends and community for many years to come.
We wish him nothing but the best!
Another fine example of perseverance and hope from an individual in our Northwest Ohio area.
John may be reached at
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