I was privileged and honored to have worked with Bruce for several years while we both attended the University of Washington. We worked together on the second floor of the Nordstrom Flagship Store in downtown Seattle. We sold women’s casuals, tall and small, and even Selby arch preservers. Sometimes we were in the children’s shoe department whenever a special fitting was required.

I worked for Nordstrom’s through high school and college, during the summer, on vacations, Saturdays and many days after school, wherever I was needed. Whenever a store remained open in the evening, as did Northgate, I worked that shift too. My teachers were Bruce’s father, Everett, his Uncles Elmer and Lloyd, and three managers, Mr. Griffith, Mr. Hanson, and “By” George. Immersed in the Nordstrom atmosphere of always making the customer happy, I especially learned how to accept all people, of all races and religions, and to treat everyone, without exception, kindly and with dignity, respect and honor.

I was fortunate to have been very successful in pleasing our customers and selling many shoe styles that resulted in my winning my first watch, a gold LeCoultre, during a Nordstrom in-house contest. My full range of experience with Nordstrom’s piqued my interest in Interfaith work and in bringing people together in harmony and mutual understanding. I well recall that even when Bruce was “under 30” he had the uncanny ability to observe, to suggest, and to mentor the men and women with whom he worked. He encouraged all of us “to draw out the best from ourselves.” Bruce possessed innate, natural leadership abilities at a very young age. He inspired all of us, colleagues and co-workers alike, by his very presence, often without a word or comment. His charisma and charm inspired all whose lives he touched.

In my senior year at the University I decided to further my education. I applied and was accepted at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio, to prepare and become a Reform-Liberal Rabbi.

When I discussed this with Bruce, he made me a counter-offer I did not expect. I struggled with my decision. I understood that one choice would leave me with a significant “road not taken.”

These were Bruce’s words, spoken some 65 years ago, for which I will always remember and be grateful. “Larry”, he said, “we’re thinking of opening a few more stores, (like Best’s Apparel which Nordstrom’s had just bought out and which changed them from being an exclusively shoe store to encompass a variety of clothing styles and many other comparable items). “We think you would be a perfect fit and we’d like you to consider being part of Nordstrom’s future!”

I recalled my answer, “Bruce, you and your wonderful family have always treated me like family, with love and respect, and I truly appreciate all of my years with you. But I just want to try this rabbi business because if I can take some of the many lessons learned so successfully here with you into this often lost and tired world, I think I can make a bit of difference in bringing a fresh modicum of respect, understanding and acceptance to our faith among the various religious perspectives. But if the rabbi profession doesn’t work out, may I come back and work for you again?”

Bruce, always the elegant gentleman, graced with an open and understanding heart and spirit, gave me his blessing!

I never forgot the gracious way your husband accepted and shared the depth of his love and care. Bruce taught me by his exemplary life, by his dynamic presence and dignified personality, by his verve and energy what a truly spiritual and religious person one could be.

Please accept my heartfelt sympathies and condolences on Bruce’s passing. He was a great yet humble man. He lived by the words of the Prophet Micah, “to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with his God!” He lived the true spirit of his faith and he was a phenomenal success at everything he touched. He influenced my life and the lives of so many others, and the formidable achievements of his life will always remain for an eternal blessing.

We say in our faith tradition, that the memory of the righteous, the memory of Bruce Allen Nordstrom, will always remain for a blessing, and so he will find that peace and that rest, which he so richly deserves.

In friendship and respect,
Rabbi Lawrence A. Forman, Doctor of Divinity

Lawrence A. Forman