VANDALIA — Many Vandalians believe that if it wasn’t for Bruce Sucher, the Vandalia Recreation Center might not exist. On Thursday, the city bestowed a rare honor – naming that center after Sucher.
Dozens of family and friends attended the ceremony in the lobby of the center where a plaque with Sucher’s likeness, and a record of his contributions to the city, are memorialized.
His contributions were many.
Sucher was hired as a police officer in Vandalia in 1976 and served in various capacities, including Assistant to the City Manager, Deputy Police Chief, Police Chief, and ultimately City Manager in 1988 where he served 16 years until his retirement in 2004. In 2014, Sucher began serving on the Vandalia-Butler Board of Education, and, ultimately, its President until his unexpected death in March, 2017.
It was during the stint as City Manager where the building that now bears his name became reality.
Mayor Arlene Setzer recalls that it was Sucher’s vision, along with attention to detail, that allowed the city to face and overcome the challenges.
“There were many ups and downs when building the Rec Center but he stayed the course,” said Setzer. “He was Mr. Vandalia. Bruce had a lot of passions about a lot of things, but the Rec Center was his baby.”
Larry Taylor, co-owner of Beau Townsend Ford and a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, puts it more succintly.
“I don’t believe we would have a Recreation Center if it wasn’t for Bruce,” said Taylor.
It was Taylor who wrote a letter to Vandalia’s City Council requesting they consider renaming the Recreation Center. A committee was appointed to consider the matter and council unanimously approved their recommendation to honor Sucher last June.
“Bruce has given his life to this town,” wrote Taylor. “He loved it (Vandalia) with every fiber of his being. He was a phenomenal man.”
During the renaming ceremony, Vandalia’s Communications Manager Rich Hopkins read a statement from Sucher’s family expressing gratitude for the honor.
“Surrounded by the community, family, and friends, if Bruce were here today, he would humbly convey his deep appreciation for Vandalia’s citizens and local city officials,” the statement read. “When discussing the role of this pivotal establishment, Bruce would express that one of his overarching goals was to create a place where people of all ages could meet, thrive, and be an integral part of Vandalia’s uplifting climate.
“He would also share that some of his personal moments of joy were centered around recreation, an aspect that in conjunction with unconditional love, deeply connected his family. Moreover, Bruce would ensure that everyone here today left with an undeniable feeling of gratitude for presenting him with this honor, and he would instill his anticipation for the public to continue relishing in what Vandalia has to offer, while encouraging the continual growth of this great city.”
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.