Polly and I have been married for forty-four years. We are blessed to have six children and thirteen grandchildren. In 2004, we moved back to Ohio from Yuma, Arizona so we could be closer to our children. We had moved to Yuma for health reasons. My sister thought the weather would be better for me. She graciously bought a home for us to live in, charging us rent well below the market rate. It was, by far, the biggest and nicest house we have ever lived in.
I started working for Allegro Medical, managing their Yuma office. I also managed the network and serviced the computers for my sister’s husband’s cardiology practice. Additionally, Polly and I cleaned the practice’s offices. By this time, my fibromyalgia had progressed to an ever-present reality, leaving me in pain and frequently tired and fatigued. This would be the last full-time job I would hold.
We lived in Yuma for seven months. We visited scores of churches, never finding a place to call home. While we thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent with my sister and her husband, after seventh months, we decided to move back to Ohio. Why? We missed our children. While I would have been better off physically (and economically) staying in Yuma, the emotional pull of home was too much to overcome. In September of 2004, we moved to Newark, Ohio — the home of Polly’s parents.
After living in Newark for ten months, we packed up our belongings and returned to rural Northwest Ohio. After living in Bryan and Alvordton for a bit, in 2007, we bought a fixer-upper in Ney — where we live today. All of our children and grandchildren live within thirty minutes of our home. All of them are gainfully employed and all of them except one own their own homes. Our grandchildren are enrolled in schools in four different local school districts. Polly and I are both in the sunset years of our lives. We knew when we moved to Ney that this would be our last move. This is home.
I am known locally for my atheism and liberal/socialist politics. I have written numerous letters to the editors of the Defiance Crescent-News and the Bryan Times. I have a unique name, so when locals talk about “Bruce Gerencser,” they are talking about one person: me. Out of eight billion people, I am the only “Bruce Gerencser.”
As my children and wife can attest, I have always been outspoken, a passionate crusader, and defender of others. This was true when I was an Evangelical pastor, and it is true today. Because I am so well-known locally, my children over the years have been accosted by people who disagree with me and want them to defend something I have written or said. This has happened at the local community college and their various places of employment.
I told my children that they are free to say that they don’t know me. I don’t want them to have to carry my burden. When locals accost me in public or flip me off as they drive by my house, I understand that this is the price I must pay for being who and what I am. I just wish that people wouldn’t expect my children to defend me. I am not hard to find. My email address, street address, and blog are but a click or two away. Why not go to the source instead of going after my children? So far, none of my children has disowned me. 🙂
Some of our grandchildren are now high school age. Two of them are in eleventh grade, another in ninth grade, and two of our granddaughters are in middle school. They, too, must now bear the burden of being Bruce Gerencser’s grandchildren. Several of my grandchildren have had teachers and administrators ask if they are related to me — and not in a good way. It seems that my letters to the editor and infrequent blog posts on local issues irritate the hemorrhoids of some teachers and administrators. Instead of talking to me directly, they quiz my grandchildren. To what end? Are they judging my grandchildren based on something I have written, never considering that they might not agree with me? You see, in the Gerencser family, we are freethinkers. Family members hold a variety of opinions, many of which I disagree with. I don’t expect my children or grandchildren to toe some sort of ideological line. I am a passionate, opinionated, educated curmudgeon. I make no apologies for being who I am.
I recognize that my liberal/progressive politics, socialism, pacifism, atheism, and humanism are out of step with the beliefs of most local residents. Evangelicalism and right-wing Republican politics rule the roost. Seven out of ten voting locals voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. Not one Democrat holds a local political office. Often, Republican candidates run unopposed. Why should Democrats bother to run for office, knowing it is impossible for them to win.
When your religion and your political party have dominated the local scene for what seems like forever (I am old enough to remember when union Democrats were major players in local politics) you forget that there might be people who think differently from you. Or maybe you don’t care. This is the case for a history/government teacher at Defiance High School.
Last week, one of my granddaughter’s teachers decided to go after me by name while she was sitting in his class. He has mentioned my letters to the editor to her before, but this time he took class time to personally attack me. What upset him, you ask? My letter to the editor about the feral cat problem in Defiance. (Please see Letter to the Editor: Defiance Has a Feral Cat Problem, Mayor Mike McCann Says Killing Them is the Solution.) This teacher thought my letter was silly, suggesting that I should find better things to do with my time. His behavior was inappropriate, but not surprising.
Evidently, this teacher didn’t read any of my letters on religion, atheism, humanism, politics, war, marijuana legalization, sexual abuse, and other issues. He evidently is also unaware of my blog and my weighty writing on a variety of subjects. For whatever reason, he wanted to publicly take me down a notch or two.
Part of me wants to make an issue of his boorish behavior, but I have my grandchildren to think of. I don’t want them to be judged or harmed for something I have said or written. If that ever becomes the case, then I will stop writing. I don’t think that will ever happen. My older grandchildren are proud of the work I do, even when they don’t always agree with me.
I do want to make an offer to the teacher in question:
- Invite me to one or more of your classes to talk to them about my political, religious, and social views. I will gladly answer any questions they might have.
- I will publicly debate you on any issue — even the designated hitter rule for Major League Baseball. Please have your people contact my people and we will set it up.
It’s easy to take cheap swipes at an old man from the safety of your high school classroom. I am more than happy to defend and debate my beliefs anywhere, any time.
Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.
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Bruce, please don’t quit writing.
The teacher you mentioned reminds of people who use their kids as pawns when they fight, or break with, their partners and spouses. They disgust me.
Amen to that. Teachers should never take out their issues with someone on family members in their classroom. Bruce, have you considering asking your children and grandchildren to respond to people who want to argue with them about you with “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him.” Or doesn’t that slow them down at all?
It sounds like the teacher is the one who needs to get a life, if that is all he can come up with 🙄
If I had this problem, I would print up business cards stating: “I am not responsible for my grandparent’s opinions or beliefs. (name) is capable of debating and defending themselves. Please contact (info) if you wish to discuss the issues you are bothering me about. I have been advised to only discuss school matters with you.” Then I would instruct my grandkids to hand them out as needed, if they chose to do so. Might make a few adults think. Then again, any adult who attacks kids for their adult family’s views and beliefs is not a nice person.
WOW. Shocked, but not surprised. But that teacher had no business embarrassing your granddaughter. I hope her parents let the admin know. (Okay, I suspect if they did the principal would do nothing.)
Bruce Almighty pitched a no-hitter today!
Regarding the ‘teacher’: This person can use whatever words hapening to form in his head. The kids listening to him do not hear his words or understand them. They see and understand his attitude towards others. They learn to judge in a shallow fashion. This ‘teacher’ might be better suited to work that exposes fewer young minds to his opinions.
This teacher is a petty individual. They would be better served by offering up an array of different ideas for students to examine – you know, like, encouraging critical thinking skills.
I think it’s totally out of line for a teacher to purposely call out a student’s relative fir criticism over an opinion peace the relative wrote. There’s no value in that, and the teacher has publicly shamed a student. As a parent, I would go to administration and demand corrective action, and a public apology. Your opinions are YOURS, and putting them on a student by implication, a minor who is in a position under the authority of the teacher, is an abuse of power. A$$hole.
This. Very much this. I hope her parents contacted the administration and insisted that they talk to the teacher. She is not responsible for what her grandfather says or does (and I hope her grandfather keeps right on saying and doing what he thinks is right).
Bruce, I wouldn’t wait for an invitation. I’d just show up at the school and the classroom. When asked by the teacher why you’re there, say you’re there to debate the issue. As you point out, sharing a last name doesn’t mean sharing a mind OR an opinion. If “Teach” wants to use class time to debate the issue here I am!
Reminds me of that Twilight episode, where those who lay claim to be the greatest at something also inherit that burden that they must always defend their title.
A public school educator should not be taking pot shots at you via your grandchild. I agree, if he wants to have a discussion, invite you in or meet somewhere and talk about the issue at hand but leave your grandchild out of it!
I suspect this teacher is a coward.
Well Bruce, It’s this incompetent teacher who is the wrong one here. That teacher is a fanatic who needs to be set straight. By the H.R. department and the principal of the school ! It’s like he was doing this in class to bring on harassment from the other students,it sounds like to me. I sure hope that you are able to keep on writing. It’s understandable why you’re u want to protect your family members, that you are willing to quit the blog. I hope it never comes to that,though. That would be a sad day !