Dan Fishback figures he spent about 55 days at the home of his younger brother, Bruce, in West Bloomfield, Mich., over the past 16 months. Bruce Fishback was diagnosed with brain cancer on May 13, 2011, and his only sibling wanted as much time together as possible.
Bruce Fishback died Friday with his family surrounding him in hospice care. He was 47. The Fishback brothers from White Bear Lake, Minn., were hockey forwards at Minnesota Duluth —Dan from 1979-83 and Bruce 1983-87 —after playing at White Bear Mariner High School.
“I already miss him, but find comfort that he no longer suffers from this terrible disease,” Dan Fishback said by phone Saturday. “His passion, grit and bravery have been an inspiration to me throughout this 16-month journey. Bruce lived a life that inspired others; he made a difference and leaves a proud legacy.”
Bruce Fishback worked in sales and marketing for 3M the past 25 years. He and wife, Michelle, have three sons, Justin, 18; Tyler, 15, and Patrick, 7, all who play hockey. Fishback played in 98 games for the Bulldogs as a right winger and was involved in youth hockey coaching in West Bloomfield, a Detroit suburb, where the family has lived since 2005.
During his illness, Fishback had more than 100 friends and family members visit from Minnesota, Connecticut, Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, California, Pennsylvania and Indiana, said Dan Fishback, who ranks No. 14 in UMD career scoring with 172 points in 154 games.
“Bruce had so many friends and it was difficult for him at the end because he was unable to speak. During his illness, through four brain surgeries, he didn’t complain once,” said Dan Fishback, 51, who lives in Atherton, Calif., and owns price and promotion optimization businesses, and funds the marketing and analytics curriculum at UMD.
Bruce Fishback, who earned a UMD business degree, was on the Western Collegiate Hockey Association all-academic team and played 15 games with the Bulldogs in their NCAA runner-up season of 1983-84 and 29 games in 1984-85, when UMD won the Division I consolation title. He was selected in the ninth round of the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by the Los Angeles Kings but didn’t play professionally.
Services will be held Tuesday in Bloomfield through Lynch & Sons Funeral Directors, and a memorial gathering is planned for Saturday in New Richmond, Wis