Bruce and Ellie Heister
: Palo Alto, California
Bruce is an alumnus of Colorado School of Mines
Metallurgical and Materials Engineering
President’s Council, Century Society and Heritage Society
What are some of your favorite Mines memories?
The whole experience of attending Mines was so memorable that it is hard to pick a favorite. Because everyone was taking the same courses and course load for the first two years, one very quickly got to know everybody on campus.
My most unusual memories were that I lived my freshman year in what is now a national monument—The Astor House Museum—and that I was the town milkman in Golden for two years. I worked for the guy who ran the dairy. He had one truck and I had the other truck. It was still when people had milk in bottles. I did it my sophomore and junior years. I’d walk all the way across town to the dairy and normally I’d be picked up by a police car, wondering what I was doing at 2-3 a.m.
Why did you start giving to Mines?
I started giving in 1960 since I was one of the Class of 1960 agents. That started my commitment to supporting Mines and it led to my involvement in fund raising for a number of organizations over the past 50+ years.
Why is it important to you and your family that you support Mines financially?
The study and work habits that I learned at Mines set me on an international career that has been rewarding professionally and financially. We want to ensure that Mines and the other institutions that have educated our family remain viable into the future. My international career has not only drawn on my Mines technical training and discipline but also required that I develop an understanding of public policy and how to function in a variety of cultures. Because of this, my wife and I have chosen to support the McBride Honors Program in Public Affairs for the past ten years.
What inspires you about Mines?
Around the world, I have found Mines has an outstanding reputation and has been a door-opener in many countries. However, Mines is not just resting on that reputation, it is adapting successfully to the future. Who would have thought from the basic mineral disciplines of the 1950s, Mines would also be leading in such fields as environmental engineering and biotechnology.
Now that you’re retired, what do you spend your time doing?
I got involved with low income housing and drop in centers for the homeless. I’m also chair of the senior citizens’ services organization here in Palo Alto. (The services are) evolving around here and we’re getting to do a lot of work in developing new technologies for seniors.
When I left California in 1978, in that interim time, they closed all of the halfway houses for the mentally ill. We came back to see a number of people on the streets. We decided to get involved and I got involved with the organization trying to build a drop in center.