The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


The official student media of Blue Valley Northwest High School


A name to remember

Former building substitute Bruno Harper died unexpectedly in his home at age 74 after recently retiring from Northwest in May.
Harper and his wife, Vickie Harper. Photo courtesy of Kimberly Maxon.

For former building substitute Bruno Harper, Blue Valley Northwest wasn’t just his place of work but was also somewhere he enjoyed being every day, principal’s assistant Dianne Waldo said. Harper passed away on Aug. 4, a few months following his retirement from BVNW. 

“He couldn’t wait to come to work. That just says a lot about his positive approach to each and every day,” Waldo said. 

Waldo said since Harper was hired as a building substitute 6 years ago, he never missed a day of work up until his retirement.

“Harper has always been the first one here. He would always be here. His car would be out in the parking lot. He’d be in it until we opened the doors,” Waldo said. “He was dedicated. He was prompt, he never missed a day.

Harper’s step-daughter Kimberly Maxon described him as extremely dedicated to the Northwest community which was clear by the various work he did around the school in addition to subbing.

“He would always find ways at Blue Valley Northwest to just be involved more even though he was the permanent sub, he was like, ‘Oh, they need someone to volunteer at the football game’, or ‘they do at the wrestling tournament’,” Maxon said. “And once they asked it was an absolute yes. But it was not at the sacrifice of his family just because that’s just who he was.” 

Maxon said that Harper always prioritized his family at all stages of his life and was extremely dedicated to spending time with them.

“Bruno came from nothing as a child, like very, very poor, and was probably one of the hardest workers I’ve ever known,” Maxon said. “Got his education, and his Master’s, put himself through school and he was always willing to just do whatever it took to do better and help his family and provide for his family.” 

Doug Weaver, a friend of Harper’s since 1987, said he was extremely loyal to his friends and family and kind to everyone. 

“He was just friendly to everybody. He seemed to always connect with whoever he met. He was just a really genuine great person to get to know,” Weaver said. “He was always just straight up with people…and supportive.”

Weaver met him when Harper and his wife, Vickie Harper, moved to Overland Park. Harper began working at Shawnee Mission South as a head soccer coach, head softball coach and assistant girls basketball coach. Weaver and Harper both coached basketball and softball for multiple years together at South. 

Weaver said Harper immediately became a sort of role model to him through their coaching time together, which also led to a friendship between them. 

“We spent a lot of time going to a lot of sporting events together outside of coaching. Hockey games, soccer games, things like that, it just seemed like we always were doing something at some time or other,” Weaver said. 

Weaver said Harper was an avid Los Angeles Dodgers fan but also enjoyed following a diverse group of sports teams.

“He loved the Dodgers and the Lakers, but he was born in Minneapolis in Minnesota, so he also kept track of the Twins,” Weaver said. “Locally, we went to a lot of Sporting KC games back even when they were the Wizards.”

Maxon said that due to Harper’s immense love for the L.A. Dodgers, his ashes were placed in a Dodgers urn so his love for the Dodgers will continue to be recognized.

“His urn was a Dodgers urn that we special ordered for him and he wants to be spread at Mount Lemmon in Arizona because he went to the University of Arizona.

Owning over 100 pairs of tennis shoes, Maxon said that Harper took tremendous care of his shoes because he knew the value of taking care of what you have.

“When he would wear a pair of tennis shoes he would come inside and wipe them off because he valued everything, and he took nothing for granted,” Maxon said.

Maxon said her stepfather had such a positive outlook on life and tried to shine that energy onto others by being positive and inspiring others to do their best. 

“He was always thinking of others, and my mom and everyone else around him and radiated joy and love and happiness and smiles and laughter to so many people around him,” Maxon said. “It makes you want to wake up tomorrow and just make someone’s life just a little bit better than it was yesterday.”

Maxon said she admired Harper’s deep love for not only those he knew but also for things such as music and books. 

“He was a really wholesome, genuine, Godly man and loved my mom and his family, his friends and students and peers so fiercely,” Maxon said. “He really loved all music like, I mean, even like some of the most recent songs.”

Maxon said that Harper’s love was always unconditional and she saw that displayed the most in his affection for her mother Vickie Harper and the love letters he wrote. 

“[He] just always could express himself for no reason. It didn’t have to be holidays, it didn’t have to be a birthday. It didn’t have to be a special occasion. It could just be because he wanted her to know how much he loved and cherished her,” Maxon said.

Waldo said Harper’s love for Vickie was clear in the way he talked about her all the time. 

“He truly did adore her and he could not speak highly enough of her,” Waldo said. “And we could be so lucky to be loved like that in our lives at some point in time because that’s how much he loved her.” 

Vickie Harper, Harper’s wife of 36 years, said that she and Harper enjoyed all their moments together.

“We just loved being together. We did simple things, but we were always together,” Vickie said.“He was the love of my life.”  

Vickie said Harper’s love for Northwest shone through every day because of how highly he talked of the students, teachers and staff.

“He loved what he did. He loved teaching and he loved teaching children,” Vickie said. “He’d come home every day, and he loved it. He was happy.”

Waldo said she misses seeing Harper and that whenever he wasn’t at work, the day would just be strange due to his frequent appearance at school.

 “I miss him every day. He was a part of every single morning, coming to work every day for 6 years,” Waldo said. 

Weaver emphasized that as well saying Harper put effort into his job day in and day out without fail which he hopes inspires others to do the same.  

“He always had positive things to say about the school students, the staff,” Weaver said. “He was so happy here and so I just hope people remember him and…they put as much effort into it as he did.”

Weaver said that Harper, being a fighter, learned from him to always keep trying no matter what the circumstances are.

“Just absolutely do your best, give it your all even if the odds are against you. Just keep persevering. Don’t give up,” Weaver said. 

Maxon said that despite Harper no longer being at Northwest, he had advice he would want the student body to know.

“One thing he would want students to know, especially the younger generation, [who] he really wanted to just lead by example, is that you really have to cherish every moment of every day,” Maxon said. “You really have to just show kindness and love and not take things for granted because tomorrow isn’t promised.”


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About the Contributor
Saraphina Wambi
Saraphina Wambi, Writer
Saraphina Wambi is a senior and a writer for “The Express” as well as the host of the “BVNWspeaks” podcast.  This is her second year on staff and outside of newspaper, Saraphina is student body President, BSU President, Model UN President, SNHS president, Gold Out KC (NW chapter) founder and president, and involved in girl’s tennis, HOSA, Mental Health Board, BVNW Ambassadors, NHS, Quill and Scroll, Chamber Symphony, Tri-M, and Medical Club. In her free time she likes to hang out with her friends, read, and play tennis. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to write for “The Express” and cannot wait to see what is in store for the year!
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