A macho man with a soft heart in Natchitoches: PART 3

By Nico Van Thyn

Jim Bruning’s children will tell you that the coach was much the same at home as he was in football.

“He was pretty demanding,” said Janyce, a social studies/world languages coordinator in the Bryan (Texas) school district. “He was very loving and crazy, doing stuff that drove mother crazy, like when it was snowing and the roads were icy, and he’s doing donuts in the street.

“He was the disciplinarian of the house, but also the fun one.”
On Janyce’s Facebook page, a friend — Danelle Moon — posted this: “Your Dad wore a football helmet on the day I started driver’s ed and he made a statement in front of other students, ‘Well, Lusby” is driving today, looks like I’m gonna be eating my knees!’ He was the best instructor ever … and a hoot!”

“A great daddy,” said Harryette Tinsley, who lives near Arcadia and teaches computer classes at Ruston High School. “He was there to support us, no matter what I did or screwed up. He was very stern, believed in right or wrong.
“He loved my mother with all his heart. He might act rough and tough, but he had such a big heart.”

And, as Harryette noted, one of Jim’s fondest wishes is that all four of the Bruning grandchildren earn their college educations.

“Caring,” said big Bubba Bruning, a tax accountant for an oil company in Humble, Texas. “He’d do anything for you, but he wanted you to learn to do things for yourself. He was a disciplinarian; he wanted you to do things right.

“I learned to iron because of him,” he added. “He wouldn’t let me out of the house (for school) unless I was neatly dressed.”

Bettye and Jim loved to travel, always, so they hitched the trusty camper to Jim’s truck and “they showed us much of the country,” Bubba said. “Mom being a librarian (research librarian at Northwestern State, then school librarian for a dozen at Natchitoches-Central), we had to learn all that [history].”

Allen Kinley, who played and coached at Woodlawn High in Shreveport, played at Northwestern and for a couple of decades has been a weight-training coach for Texas A&M athletics, said Bruning “has been like another Dad.”

When Allen met Janyce in his first week at NSU and they began dating, Coach Bruning soon pulled out the game film from a Natchitoches-Woodlawn game and checked out Woodlawn’s No. 84 at linebacker, “and then he called [Woodlawn principal] Bubba Cook” for a scouting report.

He received approval. “If I had not gotten along with him,” Kinley said, “I don’t think his daughter would have stayed.

“He’s been very accepting of me. He gave me a hard time about being from Woodlawn, but we’ve always had mutual respect from the beginning.”

To be continued…Read PART 4 Sept. 23