Bruce W. Wilhelm

 September 15, 1959 - April 16, 2012

Bruce Walter Wilhelm, 52, of Cooperstown, passed away on Monday, April 16, 2012, after a valiant effort to conquer esophageal cancer. Although the cancer took his body, it never overtook his spirit. He met this health challenge with optimism and wit, and maintained a positive outlook until the end.

Bruce was born September 15, 1959, in Bayshore, NY, to Ronald and Ann Lorraine (Schultz) Wilhelm. His family moved to Sidney in 1969. Bruce graduated from Sidney High School in 1977, and has cherished his memories and friends from high school throughout his entire life. He earned a BA in Public Affairs from The University at Albany in 1981, and a Master of Science in Public Administration from Russell Sage College in 1994.

Bruce was married to Lorna DeMott on August 30, 1980, and they shared a joyous, laughter-filled union for over 31 years. He and Lorna loved to travel together and with their family. They especially enjoyed beach vacations and going to “Camp” in the Thousand Islands. He was blessed with two wonderful children, Kristin (Daniel) Butler, and Brett Wilhelm (significant other Julia Doherty); and two grandchildren, Kayleigh and Davis Butler, all of the Cooperstown area. Family was a source of great joy to Bruce, and he reveled in participating in and watching his children’s extracurricular pursuits. He has especially loved being a grandpa, and doted on Kayleigh and Davis.

Bruce began his career at Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital in 1982, as a Personnel Assistant. He was promoted into various positions in the Human Resources department. In 2006, Bruce embraced the challenge to help Bassett Healthcare restore hospital services to the Sidney area. He collaborated with community leaders and the Department of Health to open Tri-Town Regional Hospital in 2008. He served the hospital as its first CEO until his return to the greater Bassett system to become the Vice President of Human Resources. In December 2011, Bruce was awarded the Lifetime Ambassador Award from Bassett. Bruce sincerely believed in the importance of treating each employee as a valued member of the Bassett team. He strived to demonstrate this in his interactions each day.

Bruce was active in a number of community organizations over the years. He has served on various Boards of Directors and Councils, including: ARC Otsego (president since 1992); Sidney Federal Credit Union; Boy Scouts of America, Otschodela Council; Otschedela Girl Scouts; Leatherstocking FCU; NYSARC Board of Governors; Vision 21; VHA Human Resources Executive Council; Iroquois Workforce Development Council; and BOCES Advisory Council. He was a long-term volunteer for the Cooperstown Sports Booster Club, and he and Lorna were awarded the 2005-06 Ken Kiser Good Sport Award. Bruce was a 1977 Class Representative for the Sidney Alumni Association, and was proud to be inducted into the Sidney Alumni Wall of Fame in 2010. He was an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Institute of Technology in Utica from 1999-2004. He belonged to various professional associations, including: Iroquois Healthcare Association; American Society of Healthcare Human Resources Administrators; and Northeast NY Association of Hospital Personnel Administrators. He was a presenter at many forums and conferences, and was valued as a source of practical knowledge in his field of expertise.

Bruce was a member of Troop 99 Boy Scouts during his school years, and has always been proud of his status as an Eagle Scout. He was active in various extracurricular activities and sports, and loved to play basketball in the Clark Sports Center Fast Break and Slow Break leagues until his recent illness. He was not known for his stealth or jumping skills, but had a great touch for 3-point shots.

Bruce will be remembered by many for his keen sense of humor. He was a master of corny puns and was very quick to craft a witty comment at just the perfect moment. He was skilled at reading people, and instinctively knew how to respond to a situation to facilitate the best possible outcome. He was proud of many accomplishments in his life, but was especially proud of his children and of his efforts to open a new hospital in his hometown of Sidney. His death will leave an emptiness in all who knew him.

Bruce was predeceased by both parents. He is survived by his wife, children, and grandchildren, as well as sisters and brother, Cheryl (Brian) Morris, East Greenbush, NY; John (Kelley) Wilhelm, Chester, VA; and Alison (Steve) Hertle, Essex Junction, VT. He is also survived by his father- and mother-in-law, Benjamin and Katherine DeMott; grandmother-in-law, Marie Greene; brothers- and sisters-in-law, Philip DeMott (significant other Christy Coss), Sidney; and Robert (Bridget) DeMott, Unadilla; many nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and very close friends.

There will be two visitations offered. Calling hours in Cooperstown will be on Thursday, April 19 from 4-7 pm at Connell, Dow and Deysenroth Funeral Home, 82 Chestnut St.  Calling hours in Sidney will be on Friday, April 20 from 1-3 pm at the Sacred Heart Church, 15 Liberty St. A funeral service will be held at 3 pm Friday, also at the Sacred Heart Church in Sidney, officiated by Rev. Ronald Fralick. Burial will follow in the Prospect Hill Cemetery. Arrangements are under the care of CH Landers Funeral Home in Sidney. Condolences may be sent to the family at

The family would like to extend heartfelt gratitude to the medical professionals who provided such wonderful care at Bassett Cancer Center and Bassett Medical Center. We are also grateful to the angels at Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, especially Sharon Kinch-Mead, for the loving care and support in Bruce’s final months. Finally, we thank the multitude of friends and family who have walked beside us and supported us for 22 months. No One Fights Alone!

In lieu of flowers, donations in Bruce's memory are requested in support of Bassett Healthcare's outpatient specialty clinic in Sidney. Please send gifts c/o Friends of Bassett, One Atwell Road, Cooperstown, NY 13326. Donations are also suggested to Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care, 1 Birchwood Drive, Oneonta, NY 13820.

If you would like to send condolences to the family, send an email to Connell, Dow & Deysenroth. We will forward your comments to the family. If you would like to send flowers in memory of the deceased, contact Mohican Flowers, or call them at (607) 547-8822.