National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Arson Investigator
Age: 44
Year of Death: 2020

Lemuel “DJ” Bruce

Lemuel “DJ” Bruce was born in Houston on August 23, 1976. The son of Charlotte Taylor and Delray Bruce Sr., he grew up in north Houston, was a dedicated Boy Scout, and graduated from Klein Oak High School in 1995. DJ then enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served honorably for five years and became one of the youngest Black Hawk helicopter crew chiefs in the history of the Corps. He later served in the Army National Guard.

DJ was an extraordinary husband, father, son, brother, professional colleague, and friend. His survivors include wife, Rachel; daughter, Sydney; son, Greyson; mother, Charlotte; father, Delray Sr., and stepmother, Esmelda; in-laws, Dan and Tina Taylor; in-law, Cindy Taylor; sisters, Danelle Shields (Shane) and Brande Rios (Marc); brother, Manny Zavala (Elda); and stepsister, Belinda Rendon (Bobby).

From scouting as a young man to the military and then the fire service and as an investigator, DJ committed early on to a life of service. Along the way, he constantly strived to improve himself and provide for his family, working many side jobs and obtaining a fire science engineering degree. He seemed to always be preparing for his next test. DJ’s interests off the job were diverse–from wood working to beekeeping, bottling beer, high-end whiskey, and old-school country music. As many of DJ’s friends have said, life was “Better with Bruce.”

DJ’s final job assignment as an arson investigator matched his inquisitive personality. He loved to learn, he was ambitious, and he wanted to right wrongs. His professional dedication was surpassed only by his commitment to his family. Throughout his 15-year marriage to Rachel, DJ made time every day for his family, no matter what his job and academic commitments required.

DJ was a proud member of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA), the International Association of Arson Investigators (IAAI), and Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas (CLEAT).

The Bruce family offers gratitude for the continuing support of the Houston Fire Department Family, the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, and the Houston Fire Department Arson Unit.

Memorial Posts


Memorial Wall

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  1. My brother, DJ, was an amazing brother to my sister and I. I miss him more and more as each day passes. I’m blessed that I was chosen to be his sister. I love and miss him more than words can say.

    – Brande Rios
  2. Brande, DJ was lucky to have you and Danelle in his life. I learned so much from y’all about DJ and your family, I feel that I have known them forever. I was honored to be your family escort during the memorial weekend. We laughed, we cried, we remembered and we did not get stung by the bee. Please let me know if you or the family needs anything.

    – Joey Lankford