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Scottish poet Thomas Carlyle famously wrote, “Music is well said to be the speech of angels.” Michael James Bruggeman, 45, joined the angels in their heavenly chorus in the early morning hours of Friday, February 24th, 2023, at John Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. He took his final breath at 12:15am, surrounded by his loved ones. Despite his best effort to Ted Lasso the cancer, it won the game but not the championship. Mike is certainly upstairs bringing his swagger to the angelic band on his bass.
Michael began his earthly shenanigans in the town of Minneapolis, Minnesota on April 6, 1977. Early on he had a penchant for numbers and an entrepreneurial spirit. After his family relocated to Spokane, Washington, with his clever mind, he opened an imaginary makeshift pen factory and created a one-man sports league with pinecones in his backyard, all leading to the beginning of his journey toward a life-long love of numbers and creative statistics. Growing up with two strong and loving sisters, Mike enjoyed singing along to musicals and especially the summer boat rides on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
Mike’s passion for music was unparalleled. As an award-winning upright bassist in high school, Mike shined as he improvised his way into musical greatness. Inspired by the jazz and rock greats of our time, Mike journeyed to Seattle, Washington to pursue a career in music after graduating from Mead High School. Armed with his bass, a can-do attitude, and never taking himself too seriously, Mike toured the western United States and Canada with his band for over ten years, lighting up the stage with his charismatic presence and talent.
Mike met the love of his life, Ali, in Seattle, Washington, while attending a piano performance class in college. He charmed his way through their first date as they enjoyed Thai food and shut the restaurant down as the conversation flowed. Not wanting the date to end, they sipped frothy coffee at a local late-night Kirkland cafe until closing time, and since that night remained inseparable. They married on December 15, 2007, at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church amongst friends and family. Mike completed his degree in Finance and Operations Management at the University of Washington in 2009. Shortly thereafter, Mike pursued his Masters of Science in Operational Research at the London School of Economics. Specially selected from amongst his esteemed peers, for his thesis, Mike created an innovative statical model for the UK National Health Services, pinpointing early interventions for chronic kidney disease – forever changing healthcare within the United Kingdom. Upon graduating with Merit, he returned to the States and worked for over 10 years as the Vice President and Analytics Manager of Strategic Operations at Union Bank.
Mike always enjoyed creating new melodies and bass lines, spending time with his wife and dog, talking music with his nephew, Ethan, and hanging out with his girls: Melia and Lolo. Uncle Monkey, as the girls affectionately referred to him, was considered a second dad. He gave the best advice over a cup of joe and his quick wit always brought belly laughs to all within earshot. His ready smile, and affable nature, made him a friend to all.
Mike is survived by his loving wife, Ali; Mother and Stepfather, Barbara and Dennis Gustin; Sisters, Laura Ludwig (Jeff) and Sara Wood (Charles); Nieces & Nephews, Adrian, Melia, Ethan, Ellora, Cole, Charlotte, Henry, and Ronin; and cuddly bundle of dog love, Bowie. He is preceded in death by his father, Wayne Edward Bruggeman. The funeral mass will be held March 14th, 2023, at The Basilica of Saint Mary, 310 South Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314 at 2:30 pm, followed by a celebration of life in the penthouse of Verde Pointe in Arlington, Virginia. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in Mike’s name to Music Will, which brings instruments and music programs into schools, while teaching more contemporary and accessible styles of music (www.musicwill.org/donate), a cause near and dear to Mike’s heart.
“I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”