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Before inspiring students as a high school English teacher, Bruce Waite worked at both a construction company and a gas station, where he came in contact with asbestos-containing products.
Unfortunately, he was never warned about the dangers of asbestos exposure and the risk of developing an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma.
After being diagnosed with this rare cancer decades later, Bruce fought back against mesothelioma — and the companies responsible for his illness — by working with Simmons Hanly Conroy to file a mesothelioma lawsuit.
Bruce was born in Martin’s Ferry, Ohio, in 1936. He graduated from Bridgeport High School in 1954. As a lifelong learner who was fiercely dedicated to education, Bruce obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Education from Ashland College and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Ohio State University.
In 1959, Bruce married his wife Nancy, with whom he shared life’s journey. The Waites have a daughter, Jill, who continues to be one of her father’s biggest supporters.
Bruce worked as an English teacher at Mansfield City Schools in Mansfield, Ohio, from 1959-1989. He taught Advanced Composition, Great Books, Practical Reading, and Writing. He also served as department head, National Honor Society advisor, and Adult Education director.
As an educator, Bruce focused wholeheartedly on his students, instilling a passion for learning in everyone he taught. But he did much more than simply teach — he imparted knowledge. What’s more, he did not measure success by marking grades in a grade book, but rather by his impact in creating positive change in the lives of his students.
“The path to mediocrity is heavily traveled; the path to excellence, seldom traversed.”
– Bruce Waite, Mesothelioma Warrior
In addition to being fully committed to education, Bruce was an avid runner who ran each and every day for 33 years, even if the weather or injuries tried to stop him. Throughout his life, Bruce kept a running journal, in which he logged an incredible 76,000 miles in states across the country.
As a daily runner, Bruce never expected to have lung issues. But when he suddenly began to experience breathing trouble, it took him down a series of doctor’s appointments and surgeries — and in 2002, he learned that his symptoms were caused by mesothelioma, a deadly cancer caused by asbestos.
Although he spent 30 years in the classroom, mesothelioma can take up to 50 years to develop, with asbestos fibers hiding for decades in the lungs. As it turns out, Bruce had handled asbestos products as both a construction worker and a gas station employee before becoming a teacher.
He also unknowingly taught near asbestos insulation, floor tile and joint compound at Mansfield High School. Each of these jobs could have been silently exposing him to the dangers of asbestos inhalation.
During his cancer battle, Bruce’s commitment to running was his greatest weapon, and just like he did in every other aspect of his life, Bruce faced his illness with determination. However, the effects of this devastating disease had been quietly developing in his body for 30-40 years.
“We fought hard — my Dad, my Mom and myself. We fought with everything we had in us, and then some. But fighting is futile when the enemy is so ominous and insidious. It is not a fair fight.”
– Jill Waite, Daughter of Bruce Waite
Regardless of his condition, Bruce was determined to stay active. With Nancy and Jill by his side, Bruce continued his daily runs. But, sadly, his runs quickly turned into walks, and then his walks turned into a fight to be able to breathe.
Bruce Waite took his final breath on March 25, 2003, a year after his diagnosis.
Like most mesothelioma patients, Bruce wasn’t prepared for his diagnosis. At the recommendation of his health care providers, Bruce began chemotherapy and painkillers to help manage the pain, but Bruce’s physical health, something he’d always prided himself on, was suddenly swept out from underneath him.
Over the course of his mesothelioma treatment, the medical costs began to add up. With a teacher’s salary, Bruce and Nancy didn’t have much money saved for retirement, let alone for the astronomical costs that come along with a cancer diagnosis.
As a result, their lives were turned completely upside down. It was then that Bruce, Nancy and Jill turned to Simmons Hanly Conroy for support. The firm knew the disease and the laws surrounding asbestos — even more, they knew who was responsible for making Bruce sick.
With the help of mesothelioma lawyers at Simmons Hanly Conroy, Bruce’s family got justice by holding the responsible companies accountable as well as the money they desperately needed, which went toward paying for Bruce’s remaining medical bills and supporting Nancy in her retirement.
Through a mesothelioma lawsuit, Bruce was able to secure a measure of stability for his family amid the pain and uncertainty of his shocking diagnosis.
“Simmons Hanly Conroy fought for us and beside us during the darkest time in our lives. They brought hope to my dad who found peace in the knowledge that after he left us, Mom and I would not truly be alone.”
– Jill Waite, Daughter of Bruce Waite
Years have passed since the lawsuit, but the team at Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to still have Jill and Nancy as friends. The firm is honored to partner with Jill in memory of her father and other mesothelioma warriors by raising money for mesothelioma research in Bruce’s name.
Ten years after Bruce passed away, and through her partnership with Simmons Hanly Conroy, Jill organized a race in her dad’s memory called the Bruce A. Waite Miles for Meso 5K Race in Ontario, Ohio. The annual event is still going strong today.
“I just wanted to honor my father and create an event to fight back and help others in some way as they face the monster (mesothelioma) that wreaks havoc on their lives. Each mile is love that we share.”
– Jill Waite, Daughter of Bruce Waite
Throughout the years, the race has raised over $90,000 and counting for mesothelioma research and education in the hopes that Bruce’s legacy can help other families not have to endure what the Waites did.
In addition to honoring him with the Bruce A. Waite Miles for Meso 5K, Bruce’s family also created the Bruce A. Waite Scholarship, which came about after a conversation Jill had with him. He talked about his dream of helping his students continue their education and how he wanted to set up a scholarship fund for students interested in pursuing careers in education and teaching.
The Bruce A. Waite Scholarship has since helped many students from schools in the Mansfield area of Ohio follow their dreams. Among the scholarship recipients was one of Bruce’s former students, who now teaches the same lessons he once learned from Bruce.
Since 1999, Simmons Hanly Conroy has been dedicated to helping mesothelioma patients like Bruce and their families get the justice and compensation they deserve. We have over 250 employees, including more than 60 experienced mesothelioma lawyers, who are deeply committed to helping our clients at every stage of their case.
“People hire the firm for our expertise and our compassion. Even though we’re one of the largest firms in the country, we treat our clients like family. We are sensitive to their needs and at the same time we have a proven track record of getting results.”
– Perry Browder, Manager of Simmons Hanly Conroy Asbestos Department
If you or your loved one have been affected by mesothelioma, Simmons Hanly Conroy may be able to help. Get a free consultation today to learn more about your legal options.