Bruce Hart has filled his lifetime with various work and community activities that have had positive effects for the Streator area and beyond. One thing became very obvious while getting information for this interview: Bruce is not a person to let “grass grow under his feet”.
A 1956 grad of Streator high school, he later earned a BS degree in finance in 1961 from the University of Illinois. Two weeks following his college graduation, he left for the army (with wife Janice: more on that later!) where he served for a year-and-a-half, stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Three days after being released from the army, he began working in banking with his father (Fred J. Hart) on his 25th birthday in December of 1962. He worked at the Streator Federal/Champion Federal bank for 30 years, retiring on his 55th birthday, Dec. 21, 1992.
Concurrently, and less than six months after beginning his banking career, Bruce created Hart Realty on May 1, 1963. He led the company for 45 years and, in that time, sold approximately 2,700 homes, making, as he says, “thousands of friends”. Oh, and one other work-related venture…..in 1963, his brother Craig built in Bloomington the first senior care facility of what would grow to be Heritage Health. In 1964, Bruce became involved and Streator’s own Heritage Manor was built. Today, their elder care facilities total 37, located mostly in central and southern Illinois, with over 4,000 people employed.
It was at the age of five, and in a Sunday school classroom at Park Church that Bruce Hart first met his future wife, Janice Williams. Bruce grew up on the south side of Streator, near the hospital, and he jokes that Janice, who grew up on the north side, was told by her Mom that she couldn’t date anyone from the south side. Luckily, the Main street divide didn’t keep them apart. They were in the same grade and both joined Park Presbyterian Church following their confirmation on April 10, 1950; they’ve served 62 years together as church members.
Bruce and Janice were married in Park Church on August 14, 1960, and those 52 years of marriage have produced three grown children, Leslie of Goodfield, Todd of Springfield and Allan of Morton, each of whom has two children of their own. Luckily, all six grandchildren live two hours or less away, so getting to follow their activities in sports and other endeavors is something Bruce and Janice dearly love to be able to do.
Other favorite activities nowadays include backing Streator, supporting U of I sports and, as Bruce says, to “eat, sleep and drink” the Chicago Bears. Bruce also enjoys reading about Abraham Lincoln. He belongs to the Abe Lincoln Assoc. of Springfield, and says his interest stems at least partly because in 1955, it was his Father, as state senator, who introduced the slogan “Land of Lincoln” which became state law.
You’re probably aware that for the past six years, Bruce has served on the Streator city council. He says he greatly admires and enjoys working with Jimmie Lansford, calling him a “top-of-the-line” mayor. Bruce added that he works with a great group of fellows, and is really proud to be able to serve the community of Streator.