Cover photo for Bruce Ristow PhD's Obituary
Bruce Ristow PhD Profile Photo
1940 Bruce 2019

Bruce Ristow PhD

June 24, 1940 — July 27, 2019

Bruce Walter Ristow, PhD, of Durango, CO, passed away on July 27, 2019. He was born on June 24, 1940 to Walter and Jean Ristow in Chicago, IL, a city he loved throughout his life. He earned his undergraduate degree at Northwestern University and PhD in chemistry from Cornell University. He lived in Rochester, NY, for 41 years, where he raised three daughters with his wife of several decades, Susan. A devoted father, Bruce was a steadfast presence at his daughters' numerous sporting and musical events and served as "cookie father" for their girl scout troops. During his employment as chemistry professor and associate provost at SUNY Geneseo, he was respected as a gifted teacher and was influential in establishing modern computing facilities on the campus.

Bruce harbored an insatiable intellectual curiosity, a love of reading, and was known to his family as their walking encyclopedia. Beyond applying his formidable intellect to scholarly matters, Bruce's meticulous attention to detail made those in his life feel appreciated, loved, and understood.

Bruce possessed a clever sense of humor and tickled his family by ordering coffee at Durango establishments under his favorite pseudonym, Lamont Cranston. He was an aficionado of classical and jazz music, Chicago architecture, and arts and culture in general. He volunteered his time to many organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester and the Durango Cancer Resource Center. He will be forever cherished as a devoted father, doting grandfather, and an enduring source of comfort and strength.

He is survived by his brother Tom Ristow (Lee); daughters Lara Ristow (Brendan Cusick), Heather Bilden (Bart), and Susanne Morris (Ryan); and his grandchildren Evan and Claire Cusick and soon-to-arrive baby Morris.

A celebration of life will be held at 4 pm on Friday, August 9, 2019 at the Secret Garden at the Rochester Hotel in Durango. Donations may be made in Bruce's memory to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Rochester by mailing to 333 Westmoreland Drive, Rochester, NY 14620 or online at

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