From Heartbreak to New Life

On any given day in Tampa Bay, you’ll likely see Bruce Mackey looking tenderly at the photo of his late wife Loyce on Moffitt Cancer Center television commercials.

You can also find the USF Health patient and donor connecting local health care leaders, consulting with the Unisen executives who are revitalizing the former University Village community where he lives, working out, or volunteering as an advocate for patients at Moffitt and the TGH Heart and Vascular Institute. It’s easy to imagine that he likely spent his life dedicated to community service, but it wasn’t always this way. “I lived the American dream,” said Bruce, who grew up on a Nebraska ranch, served in the U.S. Army, and rose to the level of senior vice president at a Fortune 200 company over his 42 years as an insurance broker. He and Loyce enjoyed 12 years of retirement in New Smyrna Beach, where the couple sailed the intercoastal waterway and golfed in their Dallas Cowboys cart, before a fall caused injuries that would ultimately take Loyce’s life. The couple was married for 55 years. Before her death, she implored Bruce to spend his remaining years serving others.

“In the last few weeks of her life, she said ‘I want you to spend the rest of your life paying back—you really haven’t done that, and it’s time,’” he recalled. “I was quite reluctant, but the thought didn’t go away, and she said again, ‘I want you to do it.’”

Bruce took her dying wish to heart, and shortly after her death he followed her direction, relocating to Tampa to volunteer at Moffitt, where he has since dedicated more than 2,500 hours of service and has been recognized with a volunteer award named in his honor and Loyce’s memory.

“I go back and thank her regularly for bringing me here—it has absolutely given me new life,” said Bruce. “I just turned 90, but I don’t take any meds and my life is great. I exercise tremendously and am on a plant-based diet, but the mental side of what I get from volunteering is what really drives me.”

Mackey’s generosity has expanded beyond his time to his philanthropy. Last year, he committed $5 million to health and education organizations, including a $1.8 million estate gift to USF Health.

“The day I signed the gift agreement, my charge to the USF doctors was to keep me running like a 60-year-old,” said Bruce. “Today, I’m happy to say that of the gift, $1 million is going in my wife’s memory to develop a women’s heart health operation, and it is well off the ground. Our new physician is here, and it’s going to be a tremendous success in the future,” Bruce said.

Harvard-trained cardiologist Dr. Daniela Crousillat joined USF Health earlier this year from Massachusetts General Hospital to expand women’s heart health research and patient care in Tampa Bay.

“Most people don’t realize that heart disease is the number 1 killer of women, and women with heart disease are often misdiagnosed and undertreated,” said Dr. Crousillat, noting that cardiology research has historically focused on men with the assumption that the same outcomes could be applied to female patients. “Generous philanthropic support from patients like Bruce and Loyce represents a tremendous opportunity for our growing clinical and research program. It gives us the freedom to pursue important research questions with discoveries aimed at advancing the world-class care of our patients. Their support allows our aspirations for improving women’s heart health to become a reality.”

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