Bruce Canova

Bruce Canova

Joni CanovaJoni Canova

Bruce Canova IIBruce Canova II

Patricia CanovaPatricia Canova

 George Paul CanovaGeorge Paul Canova
 Oscar Nolan CanovaOscar Nolan Canova 
  Diannah GreenDiannah Green
 Bruce CanovaBruce Canova 
birt: 24 MAY 1919
plac: Campville, Alachua County, Florida
deat: 18 MAR 2003

Marie HansardMarie Hansard
 Amy ButlerAmy Butler 



The following text is from the North Polk County, Florida "PolKats" Newsletter found at

Bruce Canova was born May 24, 1919, in Campville, Florida (in Alachua County) and later moved with his parents to Auburndale. Eventually, he moved back upstate to Ocala, where he graduated from high school and met his wife, Marie.

In 1941, the 22 year old Canova went to work for the Seaboard Airline Railroad where he worked for 15 years as chief clerk.

In 1956, Bruce applied for the position of city manager in Auburndale and was subsequently hired by the city at an annual salary of $5,000. When Canova retired in 1988, his salary had grown to $41,000 yearly. His 32-year tenure with the city of Auburndale was one of the longest of any city manager in the state.

Bruce Canova loved serving the city of Auburndale and it's residents and enjoyed the obvious position of political clout that came with the job. The more the city thrived, the more he ensured his job security. Bruce Canova at Allen's Cafe 1976 - BiCentennial

If there was ever trouble in paradise, then it probably involved Bruce's first love-- music

The elected city officials would often get extremely critical of Bruce when he would play music most of the night and then show up late for work the next day -- sometimes, very late. In the early 70's , the city commissioners even threatened his job. In 1971, concerned that he was not devoting full time to his job, they placed him on three months probation. While it was quite often a tricky juggling act, he always managed to persevere to get the job done.

It has been said that Bruce Canova loved his music more than anything. He worked as a vocalist, saxophonist, and keyboardist. While being blessed with a smooth and mellow singing voice, Bruce's forte was the saxophone. It is no doubt that Bruce Canova inspired an entire generation of local saxophone players, including his own son, Buddy.

While serving in the Army during World War II, it is told that he would actually take his saxophone into foxholes with him. As the story goes, Canova received orders to go and play for the injured in the military hospitals only days before his battalion was attacked during the Battle of the Bulge.

Bruce Canova always had a band in the Winter Haven and Auburndale area throughout the 32 years he was with the city and probably employed every musician in the area, if not full time, at least as a sit-in. Bruce always had work and was a regular performer in area restaurants and lounges, such as Lombardi's, Christies, and the Foxfire. It was not unusual on any given night to find some young guitarist or bassist sitting in with Canova-- struggling to keep up with the chords in one of those old standards or squinting in the low light, trying to read a fake book.

When Canova retired as city manager of Auburndale in 1988, at age 69, the city of Auburndale showed it's appreciation for his years of service by dedicating the Auburndale High School football stadium to his honor and renaming it, "Bruce Canova Stadium".

Although retired from public service, and finally having to give up the saxophone because of arthritis, he continued to play the restaurant/lounge circuit well into the 1990's before age and health complications finally put an end to his nightly schedule. Even after several lengthy hospital stays, Bruce would still manage to work a night or two a week and could always be counted on to occasionally join his daughter Joni, at the Sea Flame Restaurant in Winter Haven to perform "Make the World Go Away" or "Have I Told You Lately."

On January 19, 2001, during a presentation that was made during the "PolKat Reunion Show" at the Admiral's Inn at Cypress Gardens, Canova was presented with a plaque and the honorary title "PolKat Potentate" by old friend, Jim Stafford, on behalf of the many pickers he had befriended over the years. Patriarch of the Canova dynasty, Bruce performed that evening as did his son, Buddy and his daughter, Joni.

Bruce Canova died in Winter Haven Hospital on March 18, 2003, at age 83, from complications of surgery and pneumonia. He will, no doubt, be remembered for a long time as a pillar of the community and one of the finest City Manager's Auburndale ever had.

But many, if not most, may well remember Bruce as a mild mannered, soft spoken, sometimes humorous, but always dedicated entertainer -- who had a way with a ballad, played a mean saxophone, and knew more old standards than the city lawyers thought they should allow.

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Frank Canova © 2012-2014