In Memory of Bruce and Kathy Rhymes

Bruce and Kathy Rhymes

A personal note from KUNR General Manager David Stipech

We are greatly saddened to report that longtime and dear friends of the station in Susanville whom some of you know and a few of us know well, Bruce and Kathy Rhymes, died May 18 in the crash of their small airplane near Auburn, California.

We were shocked to receive this news about the sudden and tragic loss of two wonderful people with whom we have been in contact regularly. Bruce and Kathy have been longtime Susanville supporters and cheerleaders for KUNR, gladly taking a leadership role and serving as our primary liaison to the Susanville area. I met Kathy years ago but worked primarily with Bruce, whose love for his wife of 24 years was his primary passion, evidenced by his daily devoted care for her during a lengthy and serious illness a few years ago.

We were in regular contact via phone and email, especially when weather or gremlins caused a disruption in the broadcasts. Our engineer Shannon worked side-by-side with Bruce at the transmitter site a while back, with Shannon accurately reporting that Bruce was one of the nicest guys he’d ever met. Bruce reported outages as many of our remote area listeners do, but he also regularly checked in when things were working well, complimenting KUNR on how much more consistent the signal has been in recent times compared to significant periods of downtime in past years. He felt as if KUNR’s staff was family to him and Kathy, sharing flight stories and dropping me a note about some awards they had won that they were proud of, and just saying thanks … many times. He was a KUNR defender and took it personally when someone groused about a programming change or outage because he knew how hard we work and our commitment, and both he and Kathy knew they were important to KUNR and that their work with us mattered.

Bruce annually and voluntarily went up to Shaffer Peak and inspected the site and waxed the satellite dish to keep it pristine and prevent excessive ice or debris. Bruce could always be counted on to help coordinate or communicate anything related to KUNR’s broadcasts in Susanville, and offered to write letters and help improve or even relocate equipment if it would better serve the area.

In November 2009 when I wrote Bruce to express condolences for the loss of Susanville’s Mountain Life Flight crew in a crash there, Bruce said that just hours prior to that crash the same crew had assisted him with care and transport of an ill friend. He shared about attending that memorial with 1,000 others, but further was saddened by the loss of another pilot an hour before that service in a separate small plane crash in a snowstorm. "Too much tragedy for one little airport this week," he wrote. "Sorry to be the bearer of such bad news." These words seem ominous now, after receiving such tragic news about Bruce and Kathy.

Bruce was an unequaled champion for KUNR in the Susanville area. He and I talked often about getting me out there to host an event or rally for KUNR, and it’s something I was sure we would do at some point. I never imagined that my trip to Susanville would be to attend their memorial, which my wife and I were privileged to do the evening of May 23. There we learned much more about Kathy and Bruce through the photos and stories shared by nearly 200 people counted among their countless global friends and family. Their passions for life, adventure, travel, impacting others – and yes, ensuring KUNR was available to the Susanville community – was surpassed only by their renowned and inseparable love for each other. This tragedy is devastating to family and friends and an irreplaceable loss to KUNR.

Because KUNR’s transmission has been trouble-free most the year in Susanville, my last email exchange with Bruce was in January after some weather temporarily disrupted reception. It was brief but it was true Kathy and Bruce: "The signal here sounds normal, and has good strength this morning. So far, so good! Appreciate you guys."

The family and community have requested KUNR receive contributions in the memory of Bruce and Kathy Rhymes. If you wish to make a gift in their honor, please click here or call (775) 682-6056. Please be sure to note in the comment section that this is a gift in their memory. Thank you.