Biographies | Carl Brucker
People do not have to be heroes to impact their communities in significant and lasting ways. Carl Brucker was such a person and he lived his entire life in Webster, New York.
Carl was born on his parents’ farm on Phillips Road in 1917, and attended Mechanics Institute (now RIT). When his father died in 1937, he needed to find a way to accomplish farm tasks on his own and began a side-career in inventing. He built the first chicken house of its kind and invented a method of automatically feeding 4,000 chickens, collecting their eggs and cleaning their droppings. When he married his wife Wilma, they moved into a small house behind his parents’ farmhouse, later into the farmhouse itself. They raised four children on the farm: Carol, Phyllis and twins Charles and Cathy. He worked his farm, feeding his family, feeding his chickens, cows, pigs and horses, feeding his community, famous for his chickens and local egg deliveries, until 1972 when he retired. Actually, Carl was still raising his chickens and apples, just scaled down a bit and moved on to his next career, a much-loved bus driver for students at Spry, State Road, Plank South and Schlegel Road schools, all invited to an end-of-school picnic at the farm. When school was not in session, he invited nursing
home patients and children from day-care centers to visit his farm. There he entertained them with his one-man-band set up and his scale replica of his barn and model train set-up. He retired under protest (as he was a very young and vital 65) in March of 1980.
Carl was a man of many interests and talents and in “retirement”, he found ways to use them for the good of his family, friends and community. He wrote a letter to the editor with an account of the 1934 snowstorm and its snowdrifts so high, Carl could touch the telephone wires, of the freezing of Lake Ontario and of the stranding of the Coburg ferry. He retained his love for children, his own and other people’s. The small home behind the farmhouse became a display case for his practical inventions and the amusing pieces he called toys. He made clocks, built replicas, made his toys (one winter, he made 140 Jacob’s Ladders as well as many puzzles, donating them to charitable organizations to sell for profit), cared for his antiques and his collection of full-sized wagons, including a completely equipped covered wagon. Carl found many interests to follow. In 1987, he made 10 icosahedrons (structures composed of 20 equilateral triangles) from different materials and sizes, just to explore the mechanical phenomenon. His wife Wilma recalled that neighbor kids would come to the door and ask “can Carl come out and play?”
It wasn’t only the children who asked Carl to play. Carl grew up with old people around and learned to play the accordion as a young man. It would become his fame later in life, as he took his accordion (along with a foot-operated cymbal and bass drum) to 32 local nursing homes to play for residents. By all accounts, his visits were eagerly awaited and thoroughly enjoyed. One Hill Haven employee remarked that some of the residents who did not even know their own names would sing along with Carl’s music. Carl also performed at Webster Museum events and at Community Arts Day.
On July 27, 2002 the Village of Webster and the Webster Museum celebrated “Carl Brucker Day” to honor this most interesting citizen. The proclamation reads in part:
Whereas: Webster is proud to be the lifelong home of a most generous and creative citizen and
Whereas: his clever inventions, his love of antiques and toys, his dedication to community service and his genuine interest in teaching youth about Webster’s rich, rural past have educated ad enlightened children and adults alike and
Whereas: by compassionately opening his heart, mind and home, this man has brought great joy to many,
Whereas: this citizen – Mr. Carl Brucker – one of Webster’s brightest stars continues to shine on our community, and for this we are most grateful.
Once when asked why he had devoted his life to preserving history, Carl replied “our grandchildren’s children might wonder someday what kind of people we were.” Those great-grandchildren are sure to be proud of the people Carl and Wilma Brucker chose to be.
Carl Brucker died on February 23, 2006 leaving a legacy of dedication, philanthropy and life-long learning worthy of emulation.
(from clippings file at Webster Museum, including the following:
- Carl’s January 1983 letter to the editor, likely from Rochester Democrat and Chronicle or Times Union.
- Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, NY: August 25, 1978.
- Upstate Magazine, Rochester, NY: August 23, 1987.
- Village of Webster, Webster, NY: Proclamation Document, July 27, 2002.
- Webster Herald, Webster, NY: December 20, 1978; September 26, 1979; March 19, 1980, November 3, 1982.
- Webster Post, Webster, NY: April 23, 1986.