Red Mountain Foxhounds Jt.-MFH Dr. Bruce Dalton of Hurdle Mills, N.C., died Sept. 13 in a plane crash in Colorado. He was 69.
Dr. Dalton was born April 16, 1943, to Bruce and Doris Dalton, and he grew up in Lenoire, N.C. After graduating from Davidson College (N.C.) and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, he earned his master’s degrees in health care administration from Baylor University (Texas) and public health from Johns Hopkins University (Md.).
He spent 20 years as a physician in the Army and retired in 1985. He helped found OccuHealth Inc., an occupational health and safety consultant firm. In addition to his career as a pediatrician and occupational therapist, Dr. Dalton enjoyed riding horses, hiking and skiing with his family.
Dr. Dalton met his wife, Denise, on the first day of graduate school at UNC. It wasn’t until he met her that he took an interest in horses. A life-long rider, Denise encouraged him to ride but never pushed too hard for him to adopt her hobby.
“Either I was going to teach him how to ride and our relationship would end, or I would let him muddle along, and it would float,” Denise said. Dr. Dalton soon became passionate about foxhunting. While he was in the Army, they moved frequently and usually found a hunt to join, including the Triangle Hunt (N.C.), Arapahoe Hunt (Colo.) and the Marlborough Hunt (Md.).
When Dr. Dalton retired from the Army, they returned to North Carolina and immediately joined the Red Mountain Foxhounds. He was named Jt.-MFH in 1997. “He was very friendly, and he was a real Southern gentleman. I think that’s why he loved the tradition of it,” said Denise. “He soaked up foxhunting.”
After losing a leg below the knee in a hang gliding crash in 2003, doctors told Dr. Dalton that he wouldn’t walk again, but he was determined to continue all of his favorite hobbies. He even found modified skis.
“Nothing discouraged him; nothing daunted him. He’s an inspiration to other people who may have had difficulties riding when they saw what my husband could do. It was a real gift he had. He was always moving forward,” said Denise.
Although he thought he should resign as master after his accident, the hunt club insisted he continue, so he rode with the hilltoppers instead of leading the field. “He enjoyed riding more [after his accident]. He wanted to trail ride because it gave him the mobility to be out where he couldn’t walk,” said Denise.
While flying to Reno, Nev., for an air show, Dr. Dalton, owner of the single-engine Mooney M20J, and his friend Steven Huber, 57, of Hillsborough, N.C., an experienced instrument-rated commercial pilot, crashed in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains south of Pueblo, Colo. Both men died. At print, the cause of the crash is unknown.
Dr. Dalton is survived by his wife, Denise; his son, Antony of Tampa, Fla.; his daughter, Audrey Reichardt of Annapolis, Md.; and three grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 210 Saint Mary’s Road, Hillsborough, NC 27278.
This obituary appeared in the October 22, 2012 issue of the Chronicle.