As published by the ABA Labor & Employment Law Section/BNA Books in How to Take a Case Before the NLRB (7th ed., 2000)
Bruce Pence, who died of cancer on March 2, 1999, at the age of 56, practiced for more than 25 years with the Dayton, Ohio firm most recently known as Logothetis, Pence & Doll. He represented labor organizations in all areas of law in the private and public sectors, as well as representing individual employees. He began his career as a field attorney with NLRB Region 9 in Cincinnati and was an active, long-time member of the Section's Committee on Practice and Procedure Under the National Labor Relations Act. Bruce also was just beginning a new professional role as a member of the American Arbitration Association's panel of arbitrators for private employment disputes. Before attending law school, Bruce had served as a teacher and school principal, earning his undergraduate degree from Anderson College in Indiana in 1965 and his law degree from the University of Kentucky in 1970.
Bruce won praise from judges, arbitrators and NLRB staff members, and from representatives of labor and management alike, not only for his professional skill and expertise but also for his unfailing courtesy, warmth and, especially, good humor. He was perhaps best known for his ability to relate to and make a friend of nearly everyone with whom he came in contact – the term “people person,” so often used, certainly was meant to describe Bruce – and for his talent for lightening even the most tense hearing or negotiation session. Bruce was a genuine “good old boy,” in the best sense of the term; whether a client, a colleague or simply an acquaintance, when you were with him, you couldn't help but share in the smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye.
Bruce was a big man – tall, and just “one Big Mac shy of 300 pounds,” as he used to say – with an almost child-like zest for life and enjoyment of all its pleasures. He delighted in being the man at the center of a family of women – his wife, Carolyn, their three daughters and five granddaughters, whose photos filled his office and whose presence filled his life. Bruce's family tells the story of a Hilton Head vacation when Bruce volunteered to stay behind with a young granddaughter, heartbroken because she was too small for a planned outing of horseback riding. When the rest of the family returned and began to thank Bruce for staying with his granddaughter, now peaceful and happy, he interrupted, telling them with a serene smile and genuine humility: “It's not a chore; it is my great privilege to care for her.”
Bruce felt the same way about his clients – that it was a high calling and great privilege to represent working men and women. In so many ways, Bruce was the quintessential union lawyer. He was a vigorous and effective defender of his clients’ interests with a strong sense of fairness and justice, a fine lawyer with an extraordinary way of obtaining the best results for his clients. For most of Bruce's clients, he also became as much a friend as an attorney, one in whom they could confide and seek advice on the most personal of matters. Bruce also taught his colleagues and associates the meaning of trust and integrity, helped bring the proper perspective to any problem – which usually seemed less difficult after a talk with Bruce – and set an incomparable example of how to face any situation with grace and humor.
Anyone who ever met or worked with Bruce knew that, despite his devotion to his clients and his practice, he never took himself too seriously, with an often whimsical and carefree approach to work and to life in general. He could be heard whistling in the office hallways as he strolled past his sometimes frenzied and cranky colleagues. Despite the fast pace of the firm's work, and the inherently adversarial nature of a labor-law practice, he never seemed to feel a moment's stress.
During Bruce's illness, he and his family received innumerable cards and letters – from clients, friends, judges, arbitrators and, most tellingly, opposing counsel and members of management – as well as gifts ranging from flowers sent by large law firms, to catered dinners ordered by a small industrial union, to pies, home-made by the wife of a union president who drove 125 miles each way to deliver them. Seeing this outpouring of respect and affection, his wife, Carolyn, said she forgave Bruce all the long days away from home and the late nights spent at the bargaining table, “because now I know how many people he touched, and how much his work meant.” We all should leave such a legacy.