WINTER HARBOR – Lt. Bruce Edward Lanning, U.S. Navy, retired, 81, husband of Jan (Crowley) Lanning, passed from this life to eternal life May 9, 2012, at an Ellsworth health care facility, the result of the ravages of diabetes. He was born May 31, 1930, in Herkimer, N.Y., son of the late Edward and Elizabeth (Rice) Lanning. Bruce’s grandmothers, Mary MacArthur Lanning and Lizzie McKinnon Rice, were Scots and he was so proud of his Scottish heritage.
Bruce graduated from Herkimer High School in 1947, leaving home at age 17 to join the Navy, where he served for 23 years going from seaman recruit to lieutenant commander. At age 19 he married his high school sweetheart, Mary Agnes Binda of Herkimer, N.Y., and they were married 47 years at the time of her death in 1996. In 1967 Bruce, Mary and their two children moved from Norfolk, Va., to Winter Harbor, where he was to serve as the commanding officer of the U.S. Naval Astronautics Group, Detachment Alfa, Prospect Harbor. Bruce fell in love with the area and the opportunities to enjoy his love of sailing. So when his time at Prospect Harbor was up he resigned his commission and retired after 23 years in order to remain in Winter Harbor. Bruce and Mary grew to love Winter Harbor and involved themselves in the community, not to try to change it, but to serve. Bruce served on Winter Harbor Utilities District for 19 years, water committee, trustee at Sumner High School, and various other boards and committees. Bruce also owned and operated Lanning Marine Electronics for a number of years. After retiring Bruce built a number of boats. One being his own Friendship Sloop, Schoodic, which he sailed for 24 years from the Maritimes to islands south of the Bahamas. He raced the Schoodic for a number of years at Corinthian Yacht Club, Marblehead, Mass., Friendship Regatta, Mass Bay Regatta and the annual Friendship Sloop races held in Friendship and Rockland, until he sold her in 1997. For many years he sailed and delivered boats from Maine to Florida. In 1997 he purchased the captains gig off the Dwight D. Eisenhower and turned it into the very livable motor yacht, Chickadee. In 2002 Bruce married the former Jan Crowley of Ellsworth and they took the Chickadee from Winter Harbor to Florida that year living aboard for eight months. After a stroke in 2004 he was no longer able to sail and sold the Chickadee. Bruce also built, entirely by himself, the house in Winter Harbor that he lived in since retiring from the Navy. Bruce was a very talented man in many areas. He had held an active amateur radio license for more than 50 years – W1GBS. He was a member of American Radio Relay League, Military Officers Association of America, Fleet Reserve Association and member of the Friendship Sloop Society for 25 years, and Mount Desert Island Sailing Club for 10 years. Since boyhood Bruce had a keen interest in electronics. Much of his ham radio equipment he built himself. If he couldn’t repair something it was likely not repairable. He taught electronics while in the Navy. He also was a member of Time Nuts, a group who discuss precise time and frequency measurement and related topics. He spent much time pursuing this hobby. Some perceived Bruce as being very vocal and opinionated and he could be but he also had a private, quiet and gentle side. Although at the time of his death he was not affiliated with any local church, he did have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Bruce is survived by his wife and best friend of 10 years, Jan (Crowley-Willard) Lanning; his much-loved children: son, Wayne Bruce Lanning and wife, Vicki Underwood Lanning, and their sons, Ian Wayne and Samuel Riley, of Lincolnville; and daughter, Lauren Lanning Armstrong and husband, Col. John Armstrong, and their sons, Gregory and Phillip, of Woodbridge, Va.; sister-in-law, Mary Elizabeth Lanning of Nebraska; special cousins, Dottie Koch and family of Manchester, N.H., and Miriam Bernhardt and family of Boca Raton, Fla. Bruce will be greatly missed by his little four-legged sidekick, Tricki Woo. He was predeceased by his parents; his first wife and mother of his children, Mary Binda Lanning; brother, William Rice Lanning; and sisters, Mary Louise Lanning Romie and Lois Lanning Zelie. Bruce also leaves behind a number of old and dear friends, former sailing buddies and Herkimer High classmates. The family extends their deep appreciation to Dr. Carl Aselton and the staff at Milbridge Medical Center, Dr. Stephen Comeau, Maine Coast Intensive Care Unit for the wonderful care given him when he was there, and hospice. A very special thank you to Sandy Daley, Cliff Pilacinski, Ricky Dyer, Debbie Scappaticci and Pam Crowley who have made this easier for us all to bear.
A funeral service will be held 11 a.m. Monday, May 14, at Jordan-Fernald, 113 Franklin St., Ellsworth, with the Rev. William Sommerville officiating. Interment will be at Greenwood Cemetery, Winter Harbor. Contributions in Bruce’s memory may be made to Maine Coast Healthcare Foundation, 50 Union St., Ellsworth, ME 04605. Condolences may be expressed at