Bruce Purdy was born November 2, 1917, in Appleton, Wisconsin. He attended Appleton public schools and Northwestern Military Academy. He graduated in 1940 from the University of Michigan with a degree in mechanical/industrial engineering. He enrolled for several years in the Harvard Business School before leaving to join Douglas Aircraft to help with the World War II effort.
In 1944 Mr. Purdy joined Appleton Wire Works. He retired in 1973, but remained active in the company as a director of Albany International Corporation (the result of a merger of Appleton Wire Works with Albany Felt Company) until 1990.
In 1954, Mr. Purdy transformed the wire weaving technology of the early 1900s for papermachine clothing with the revolutionary development of an automated wire looming operation. Prior to the development of the automated loom, it took four years of training as an apprentice to become a weaver. On the first official day running the automated loom at Appleton Wire Works, May Tournow, the forelady of the winding department, successfully ran the largest loom in the plant, with the most expensive wire and with no problem in that first run. She had never run a loom before.
Purdy was instrumental in creating significant other paper machine clothing manufacturing and performance improvements.
He and his wife, Barbara, have five children, ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.