Bruce Howard Hilliard was born on November 30, 1960 to Barney and Norberta (Arviso) Hilliard in Seattle, WA. He grew up in the Montlake neighborhood and attended Montlake and Madrona Elementary Schools, Wilson Junior High School, and graduated from Lincoln High School in 1979. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Washington (UW) in 1985. As a UW undergraduate he was very involved in the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), an organization through which he continued to support students throughout his life.
Bruce launched his career as an intern at Seattle City Light. After receiving his degree he worked nine years as an engineering project manager for GTE and US West. Through his work, Bruce was the first person to introduce most of his family and friends to a cell phone. Since he was a young professional, he was always passionate about giving back to the community by introducing students underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to STEM educational and career opportunities. For over 25 years, Bruce led Blacks-in-Science in bringing thousands of children of color to the Ron McNair Camp-in at the Pacific Science Center. He served over 20 years as an Executive Board Member for the UW Seattle Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) Program. He also enjoyed volunteering to help youth in the after-school tutoring program at First AME Church. Driven by his love of working with students, Bruce left the telecommunications field to pursue a career path where he could directly help students—what he loved to do most. Knowing he planned to dedicate his career to the field of education, he went on to earn his Master of Education in educational leadership and policy studies in 2002. Bruce left a lasting legacy on the UW campus and in the local community working as a liaison to UW faculty and staff while helping numerous student-athletes as an academic coordinator in the UW Athletic Department for over 14 years.
Bruce loved his family and friends. He was well known among the Hilliard’s for being one of the planners for the family reunions. He enjoyed music (especially 70s & 80s R&B, P-Funk, and 80s & 90s hip-hop), concerts, comedy shows, dining at Seattle’s best restaurants, cooking on the grill, traveling to visit family and friends, card games with “the boyz,” and UW Husky sporting events–especially football. Over the last six years, he especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren who called him, “Pops.”
After a battle with prostate cancer, Bruce departed this life on August 9, 2013 surrounded by his family. To cherish his memory he leaves: his daughter Jessica; two grandchildren, Demetri and Johonna; his parents Barney and Norberta; four siblings Rita, Jeffrey, Teri (James) and Tracy; three nephews James III, Jalen and Brandon; and a host of other relatives and friends.
A memorial service celebrating Bruce’s life will be held on Saturday, August 24 at 11:00a.m. at Immaculate Conception Church – 820 18th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122. Reception immediately following.