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Peters judge balanced efficiency, compassion

Among friends and associates, Bruce McCullough was known for being a bankruptcy court judge who had the ability to shift through complicated documents and get to points that mattered.

Yet, said his longtime friend, Bernard “Bernie” Theis of Franklin Park, “Bruce was a kind and compassionate man, who was willing to help anyone he felt needed a helping hand, and he did it anonymously.”

The judge, who served on the board of the American Red Cross, once paid a bill for an older widow who couldn’t afford it, Theis said.

Judge M. Bruce McCullough of Peters, chief judge of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh, died Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2010, in his home. He was 66.

“He had a sense of fairness and honesty, which I admired. You always knew how you stood with him,” said Theis, who met him 28 years ago. “Bruce was the kind of guy who enjoyed having a beer with friends in a local bar, rather than socializing in prestigious clubs where he had a membership.”

Appointed to bankruptcy court in 1995, Judge McCullough was known for successfully resolving bankruptcies. He helped negotiate the 1999 deal to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, giving Mario Lemieux ownership of the hockey franchise he led to two Stanley Cup championships.

The judge had a sense of humor and infectious smile, Theis said. He loved riding the roller coaster at Ohio’s Cedar Point amusement park, and loved the outdoors, he said.

“He often recalled growing up in the wide open spaces of Montana and the time he spent as a child in China where his father, a Presbyterian minister, was assigned,” Theis said.

Judge McCullough is survived by his wife, Kathy Ryan McCullough; and brothers, Brian McCullough of Helena, Mont., and Barrie McCullough of Sandy, Utah.

Friends are welcome from 2 to 6 p.m. today at Beinhauers, 2828 Washington Road, Peters. Services and interment will be private. Memorial contributions can be made to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, 611 Granite Springs Road, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598.


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