Brundage remembered through music, poetryWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Hundreds came to the Toledo Botanical Gardens to celebrate the life of Toledo resident and activist Robert Brundage on Aug. 7.
The event featured poetry readings, musical performances and stories of the late 66-year-old. Friends and representatives from various organizations Brundage was involved in attended the event to pay tribute.
“‘Dr. Bob’ was a real gift. Instead of mourning his death, we take what he gave and see how we can continue his work — celebrate it, keep the torch lit,” said Donna Cohen, co-owner of the Happy Badger, who was in charge of coordinating performers for the event.
“Everyone could learn from this man. He gave so much enjoyed every minute of life. Taking joy in simple things, such as a butterfly,” Cohen said. “He gave so much, to the city of Toledo. Any time I’d go to any community organization meeting, he was there. He seemed to be everywhere — seemed like that was his profession.”
The day of remembrance was organized by the Toledo Board of Community Relations (BCR) and was designed to encapsulate every facet of the community Brundage was involved in, said Warren Woodberry, chairman of the community relations committee for the BCR and the event’s facilitator.
“The event was to remember his community service, his work and his life. He was on committees involving social issues, environmental, feeding the hungry, youth, you name it,” Woodberry said.
Brundage was attacked by a 15-year-old — who was trying to steal the bicycle Brundage rode everywhere — after a Toledo Area Jobs with Justice Coalition meeting June 22, 2009. Brundage was in a coma for two weeks following the attack and passed away July 7, 2009.
Dailahntae Jemison, Brundage’s attacker, was sentenced to five years at the Ohio Department of Youth Services for the homicide.
Performances during the event included poetry from MADD (Making a Direct Difference) and Brundage’s friends as well as blues and folk music and a Native American flute player.
Brundage, who played the cello for the Toledo Symphony, was also honored with a performance by the Toledo International Youth Orchestra. Four cellists played “Rose,” in remembrance of Brundage’s love of flowers, Woodberry said.
In addition to performances and speeches from friends, a list of the numerous organizations Brundage participated in was read. Some of the groups he was involved with included Urban Coalition, Erase the Hate, Toledo Area Jobs With Justice Coalition, Toledo GROWS, Toledo Central City Neighborhoods Community Development Corporation, Toledo Metroparks and the Scott Alumni Association.
Brundage’s brother Richard drove from Columbus for the event and was “impressed by the outpouring of feelings and support for my brother’s work.”
“All in all it was rather overwhelming, the support from the organizations. Individuals kept coming up to me, some I already knew and others who I didn’t know, with stories of Robert,” Richard said. “It was promoting the spirit with which [Robert] participated with organizations.”
Richard accepted proclamations from the mayor’s office, City Council, the county, the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate in honor of his brother, he said. He was also presented a flag, flown over the Capitol, from Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur’s office.
Event organizers hope to honor Brundage each year in some way.
“We’re going to sit down and talk and look forward to honoring him every year in some shape, form or fashion to keep his memory alive,” Woodberry said.
A scholarship established in Brundage’s name at Scott High School through the Toledo Public Schools Foundation has already received more than $1,150. During the Brundage memorial celebration, the scholarship received a $500 check, Woodberry said.
Donations for the Brundage/Scott Alumni Scholarship may be sent to the Toledo Public Schools Foundation. For more information about the scholarship, contact Susan K. Zurawski at (419) 535-6568, or e-mail her at email@example.com.