November 10, 1948 – May 28, 2021
In loving memory of Bruce Nay who passed away on May 28th, 2021. Beloved husband of Kathy Ellen Nay, father of Rod, Dusty, Jake, Ryan, Casey and Sissy. Memorial services honoring Bruce’s life were held on June 12th in Norwood, Colorado.
Whether you met Bruce Nay once or a hundred times, his mischievous eyes and perpetual almost smile told you right away that this man had stories. And stories he had. We lost Bruce May 28, who passed doing what he loved: hunting in the La Sals with his wife, his grandkids, and his hounds. Gather to share stories and honor Bruce’s life on June 12, at 10 a.m. at the San Miguel County Fairgrounds in Norwood Colorado at the main grandstand, followed by a potluck at the playground.
Born to George and Hazel Nay in Salina, Utah, in 1948, the family moved when Bruce was 3 to Vernal, Utah, where he lived until coming to Colorado in 1977. They say if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life, and Bruce took that to heart. He learned to hunt from his father, a government hunter who did predator control, and that would earn Bruce his living–and a houseful of trophies–for the rest of his life. They still have hounds that can trace their lineage back to 65 years through the Nay family.
Hunting isn’t just skill, it is passion for and connection to the natural world and the ways of the animals that live there. His wife, Kathy, remembers driving with him on the highway, not hunting, and he would shout, “Pull over! I saw a lion track.” He would be compelled to check it out and see where it went.
Hunting took Bruce all over the world, including British Columbia, Mexico, Africa, and New Zealand. He could land in a new place, take in the surroundings, orient himself in the landscape and say, “The elk are going to be there, and they’ll travel through there. If you go over there, you’ll find a track.” And you would.
Bruce loved guiding, too, and has helped thousands of hunters, with generations of families returning to realize their hunting dreams with him. He was an incredibly skilled guide with an endless supply of one-liners, but people came back year after year because Bruce wasn’t out there to show them how good of a hunter he was, but how good of a hunter they could be.
Hunting may have been his passion, but horse racing had his heart. He was a champion race horse jockey when he met Kathy in Vernal in 1976. Kathy was living at her family ranch in Rangely, CO, home of the Nay’s hunting camp for their business, Bookcliff Outfitters, to this day. They met at Bud’s Sportsman’s Lounge in Vernal, site of their first dance and the start of something beautiful they shared that would win them dance competitions and light up their kids’ lives.
Kathy remembers how beautiful Bruce was to watch when he was racing. He raced and won throughout the Western States (one day in Montana winning all 10 races) and even beyond, taking trophies along the way, including the All American Congress at Beulah Park, Ohio. A broken leg in 1978 ended his racing career.
As Kathy says, “Everyone who knows him in this life down here knows how much of a hunter he was, but he would always say that if he had been six inches shorter and didn’t have to make weight, he would have rode race horses all his life–he loved it more than hunting.”
When looking for a place to settle, he and Kathy went out scouting west of Norwood, saw a mountain lion and said, “This is the place,” and moved to their fruit-orchard homestead in Redvale, CO. Soon after, Bruce turned his passion for horses into training horses, rodeo events and more trophies and saddles. Along with Kathy, he is one of eight founding members of the Norwood Roping Club. Later, when the kids were riding, Bruce and Kathy were very involved with the Wright’s Mesa Gymkhana Club, where they have helped hundreds of kids become better riders by providing them with horses, goats to tie, gentle mentorship or a zinger of a joke to lighten up the stress and frustration of competition. For such an accomplished and competitive person, Bruce Nay was truly a laid-back jokester and one of the happiest guys you would ever meet. Maybe because he never worked a day in his life.
He is preceded in death by his parents, siblings Clella Nay, Karen Oldham and Rano Baugh, and one grandchild, Mark. He is survived by his wife Kathy of Redvale, CO; sister Linda Kasper (Melvon), and children Rod Nay and Dusty Nay of Huntington, UT; Jake Nay of Heber City, UT; Ryan Nay (Christina) of Vernal, UT; Angela (Sissy, Fred) Carter and husband Larry of Redvale, CO; and Casey Nay of Brooklyn, NY; as well as grandchildren Dustin, Jamie, Levi, Holly, Shawnee, Caitlyn, Kelsey, and Colt.