July 26, 2008

Thomas M. Brundrett - May He Fly With The Eagles!

(Photo by Linda (Cash) Meikle)
A great man died last week and was buried as he preferred to live - without pomp and circumstance.

Tom Brundrett was a 'friendly presence' in our home for several years when I was the Berrien Springs correspondent for the Herald-Palladium in the 1980's as Linda Cash. Tom was the Region Editor and my contact at the newspaper 24/7.

This is the obituary that ran for him today (July 23, 2008). My comments follow...

Thomas Brundrett ST. JOSEPH — Thomas Brun­drett, 71, of St. Joseph passed away at his home and surrounded by his wife, pastor, grandchildren, great­grandchildren and friends on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, and waiting for his Lord. A Celebra­tion of Life service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, July 25, at Starks & Menchinger Family Funeral Home, 2650 Niles Road, St. Joseph, with Pastor Roy Cas­tlebuono and Pastor Dan Augsburger officiating. Burial will follow in Riverview Cem­etery. Visitation is from 6 to 8 p. m. Thursday, July 24, at the funeral home. Memorials may be made to St. Joseph Sev­enth- day Adventist Church or Hospice at Home. Friends wishing to send a condolence message online may do so in the guest book at
. Tom was born on Dec. 25, 1936, to William and Myrtle (Gallo) Brundrett, in Pitts­burgh, Pa. He served his country in the United States Army and was honorably discharged on July 31, 1967. He worked at The Herald­Palladium for 39 years and prior to that he worked at the South Bend Tribune. He was a member of the Elks and the Masons. He enjoyed sports, was a Cubs fan and a Little League coach. Later in life, Tom be­came a member of the St. Jo­seph Seventh-day Adventist Church. He was a prayerful man who enjoyed reading and studying the Bible and being with his grandchildren. He is survived by his wife, Charon of St. Joseph; three sons, Rick (Rose) Brundrett, Tim (Connie) Brundrett, Todd (Julie) Brundrett; four grand­children, Sarah, Emma, Noah and Jacob; four stepgreat­grandchildren; and a special friend, Yvonne Echeverria He was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty Ann, his parents and two brothers.

"Tom Brundrett" is mentioned in my memoir,
"Dusty Angels and Old Diaries" several times including this comment... "I couldn't have been such a successful correspondent without my long-suffering, chain-smoking editor, Tom Brundrett."

I hadn't heard from or about him in many years but still sometimes think of him and my experiences with the newspaper when I hear the wailing sirens of a firetruck because, as the Berrien Springs Correspondent 24/7 for over 5 years, I had to grab my camera and run anytime day or night when the Berrien Springs-Oronoko Township Fire Department got the alarm. After covering the emergency event, I'd call Tom at home to let him know the story (and film) was coming in. My family often gave him the call as I ran out the door to alert him of my response and possible story-in-progress..

He was a great teacher - for those who wanted to learn. I think he loved computers more than most people back when I worked closely with him. For many years Tom had a business in his home called,
"Home Computers". It will never be known just how many novice computer entrepreneurs were given a gentle nudge into cyberspace under Tom's persistent tutelage.

As Managing Editor, Dave Brown said of him in the news article of his passing , "He wanted just the facts, ma'am". You could bet he would "cut' the fluff. Correspondents were paid by the word, so of course we "fluffed" our stories but the readership rarely saw those extras.

Several memories come back when I think of stories I did. Remember the "Hands Across America" event? I went on assignment to cover an area where people were lined up along the road including my family in this one. When he growled a little at my work, I was confused. "You don't take pictures of people's backside," he said. Most of my "Hands Across America" pictures showed the back of the line. I never told him it was because my kids were in the pictures!

Another time, I was asked to do a story on a man who had AIDS back when it was still a taboo subject and surrounded by misunderstanding. He didn't want me to go because (I think) he thought I might "catch it". I assured him as a nurse I felt quite comfortable going to the man's home to sit and discuss the subject. But Tom wouldn't hear of me going alone. He accompanied me on the interview - perhaps thinking that would keep me from getting AIDS.

I could (and should) write a book about the many stories I covered as a correspondent who covered the emergency system, the school system and local government. Just a few days ago I found the large file box filled with stories and pictures from those horrific years as a Herald-Palladium Correspondent. Tom was behind every story taking no credit as he rewrote open-ended paragraphs, edited my misuse of the English language and often gave me more credit than I deserved.

Because of my experience with Tom under most every conceivable circumstance, I like to think I met the 'real guy". When council meetings or school board meetings lasted until wee hours of the morning, he sat at his desk at the H-P waiting for the last word - and then felt free to ask me to call a public official to confirm a quote.

He answered his phone at home at unearthly hours of the night and urged his correspondents out when an emergency occurred in his jurisdiction. Then called us repeatedly with outlandish questions up until the moment of deadline the next morning to make sure we got the story right.

His most happy hours were election night when the results trickled in all night long. He came to work coffee mug and cigarettes in hand prepared to follow the election trail for the next 24 hours!

He was writing a novel "after hours" at the time, but didn't tell very many people. (He didn't like rejection any more than the next writer!). I think I still have a copy of one that was rejected, but to tell the truth, the language was stronger than I could handle at the time. ha ha

Back then, Tom still enjoyed setting up a train set for his children (grown) at Christmas time in the living room window of his home. I'm not sure if it was a tradition that brought out the child in him or if was his annual birthday treat to himself (also on Christmas day).

It's really difficult for me to imagine Tom as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. I can't believe anyone was strong enough to pull him through the front door of any church. But Seventh-day Adventist? (Did he really quit smoking?) (Did he stop cussing and swearing as part of his everyday language?)

Tom was really good at heart, but most who knew him figured he would want to pass on the religion part. I wasn't 'blessed' with knowing Tom when he "got religion" but it really would have warmed my heart to know he found peace in his spirit and the love of his family before he left this world.

This is the article that the H-P ran on Tom after he died. It sounds more like the Tom I knew.

Veteran newsman Tom Brundrett is dead at 71
H-P City Editor
ST. JOSEPH — Tom Brundrett, a nearly 40-year fixture in The Herald-Palladium newsroom, died Tuesday at his St. Joseph Township home after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
The Pittsburgh native joined The News-Palladium, an H-P forerunner, as a reporter in 1968. He was promoted to region editor in 1970, a post he held until 1991. He then became assistant region editor and troubleshooter for the newsroom computer systems.
He retired in September 2007. Herald-Palladium Managing Editor Dave Brown worked closely with Brundrett on the newpaper’s Region Desk for a number of years. He praised Brundrett’s work as an editor.
“Tom reminded me of Sgt. Joe Friday on ‘Dragnet’ – ‘Just the facts, ma’am.’ He didn’t tolerate unnecessary fluff in news stories. He just wanted reporters to stick to the facts,” Brown said. “He will be missed by our staff, both professionally and personally.”
He was known by colleagues for a characteristic laugh and a passion for computers.
Brundrett worked more than 50 years in newspapers, including stints with the Niles Daily Star and the South Bend Tribune.
The graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan College served two years in the U.S. Army.
He is survived by three sons, Tim, Todd and Rick, four grandchildren, and his wife, Charon.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Betty, in 2000.
His son, Rick, worked 12 years as an H-P reporter before leaving in 1998 to become a reporter with The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C.

Tom loved his country, his work and his family in a quiet honorable way.

Take Care on the Journey, Tom.



Anonymous said...

Sorry to see that Tom has passed away. I know how much you admired & enjoyed working with him.
I remember meeting Tom when I came to visit you. You took me to the H-P to show me how the newspaper system work. So sad he became a SDA before he died tho. I guess when you get older and your health is bad you just give up. I don't know anything about his family but I'd bet they forced (by bitching alot) him to go to church. He sure didn't seem like a church goin' guy to me, but folks do change.

Linda Meikle said...

I would love to discover how my friend and mentor found religion - and the effect it created in his daily life. We may never know. Eternity belongs to Tom now.

Anonymous said...

This description was more of the Tom we all knew through the 70's, 80's, and 90's. He was a dedicated father to his three sons. They are all very successful; a testament to their parents. I agree that the newspaper story was the true Tom people remember and not the guy described in the obituary (nutcase). His boss and dear friend Bert Lindenfeld was born on Christmas and died 48 before Tom did. Strange.