Buckingham resident finds rewarding pastime as volunteer with ‘Coogs’
For the last several weeks, the University of Houston’s football team has been preparing for the fall season, which kicked off with a season opener against Rice University. Throughout the season, the team is supported by one of the longest-serving volunteer members (and proud UH alum), 92-year-old Tony Bruno.
Bruno, a Port Arthur native, is a resident of the Buckingham senior living community in Houston. For the last 33 years, he’s volunteered with the team three days a week all year long, working on everything from assisting the team in the recruitment office, distributing flyers, or simply offering the football team members words of encouragement during practice.
“I enjoy being able to get out and do things at my age,” Bruno said. “I feel like I have no limits and I like having a place to go where I feel like I’m making a contribution. I would say the school does more for me than I do for it.”
Bruno attended the University of Houston after he served in the South Pacific during World War II, returning to the U.S. in 1946. That fall he enrolled at the university and purchased season tickets for the school’s inaugural football season. He eventually graduated with degrees in economics, management and education in 1949.
He has also maintained his season tickets for more than 70 years, with the exception of an18-month period in which he was recalled to serve in the Korean War.
In 1985, Bruno had just retired from his job at National Marine Services and was considering moving to Pensacola, Florida, for a new position.
He ran into his friend, Ben Hurt, who happened to be an assistant coach for UH Cougars football.
Hurt asked for Bruno’s help with the team, and the rest is history.
Now, he spends as much time as he can on campus, getting the team ready for games.
When the team is on the road versus playing at home, Bruno spends his weekends cheering the Cougars on with fellow fans at home at The Buckingham.
“To this very day, I enjoy what I’m doing for the team at UH and I look forward to going and providing whatever minor contribution I can make,” Bruno said.