Bruce Randall Carlson


Bruce Randall Carlson passed away peacefully at his home on Thanksgiving morning in Billings, Thursday, November 22, 2018 at the age of 62.

Bruce was born May 22, 1956 at the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado. He was born to Lieutenant Loyal Eugene Carlson (Gene) and Kathryn Belle Carlson. The family returned to their home in Great Falls, MT in 1957 after Gene retired from the Air Force. Bruce was a bright young man and gifted athlete. He played Little League baseball and wrestled alongside his best friend and brother, Jeff. The boys grew up in the gym and football field of Great Falls High school where their father served as the Head Football Coach. Bruce won the title of National Champion in the Punt, Pass, and Kick contest of 1969 as a 13 year old. Sports were the foundation that shaped Bruce’s future. Sportsmanship “fair and generous treatment of others” was the way he lived his life. Bruce went to Paris Gibson Junior High and Great Falls High School from 1971-1974 He excelled as a “Bison” playing basketball, football and throwing the discus for the track team. He was fortunate to play for his father in high school and later in college. He earned a football scholarship to the University of Montana in 1974 as a kicker. His kicking earned him a spot on the top 10 all-time leading scorers in the University of Montana’s football history. His longest field goal was 50 yards, an impressive distance for a traditional toe style kicker. He graduated from the U of M with a degree in accounting. Upon graduation he was invited as a free agent placekicker by the Chicago Bears. A hamstring injury ended his pursuit of a pro career.

Bruce met the love of his life Judy (Friman) Carlson at the young age of 17 as a senior at Great Falls High.  If you ask Judy about that moment, she will tell you “it was love at first sight, that was my guy.”  After college Bruce married the love of his life and started his career as a successful oil and gas landman and entrepreneur.  Bruce and Judy would go on to have four energetic, crazy and rambunctious boys; Brian, Jesse, Chris and Billy.  Bruce’s passion in life turned into raising his sons, teaching them about business and coaching every team in every sport imaginable.  Bruce loved his family; they were his life and to his sons, he was their Superman.  Bruce was a “one of a kind,” treating every kid, parent, coach, spectator, fan, neighbor, like he was a part of his own personal family.  Bruce was the guy that made everybody feel better just by his presence.  When he wasn’t present, there would always be the question “Where’s Bruce?”  The answer typically was “He’s running on Carlson Time” (meaning extremely late).  In the end, Bruce didn’t stick to the “Carlson Time” tradition and left us far too early.  However, we are all left the fond, funny, silly, loving memories of him, whether it was his quick wit or bad jokes.  One hears the name Bruce Carlson and can’t hold back a smile.  Bruce would never want anyone to be sad of his passing, so please think of your favorite Bruce Carlson moment (as everyone has one), smile and “Keep fighting that good fight.”

Bruce joined his father Gene Carlson, Thanksgiving morning.  He will forever be remembered by his wife Judy Carlson; sons Brian (Julie) Carlson of Norman, OK, Jesse Carlson of Billings, MT, Chris (Alexa) Carlson of Houston, TX and Billy Carlson of Billings, MT; grandchildren, Benjamin and Kathryn Carlson of Norman, OK; mother Kathryn Carlson of Pasco, WA; brother Jeff (Nan) Carlson of Tulsa, OK; sisters Kim (Jim) Brant of Reno, NV; Wendie (Terry) Thomas of Dillion, MT; Stephanie Carlson of Pasco, WA and countless nieces, nephews, cousins, other family and friends that he loved so much.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Bruce’s name to The Montana Grizzly Scholarship Association, Adams Center Room 139, Missoula, MT 59812

We thank you for your generosity and appreciate the years of friendship you gave to Bruce and all of his family.  Whether you knew him his entire life or met him last week, Bruce did not know a stranger and we are all just a little bit better because he was a part of our lives.

Memorial Services will be held at 2:00 P.M. Friday, November 30, 2018 at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 717 18th Street West in Billings.