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Asian Arts & Culture Center

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If you would like to share your stories and memories of Dr. Brungardt, please email us at asianarts@towson.edu.

Tribute to Dr. Brungardt

A sweet kind gentleman - distinguished, soft spoken, mild mannered, gentle, quiet, shy yet charming, with rosy cheeks, a smile that lit up the room and a twinkle in his eye. Gil had an appreciation for beautiful things and had an eye for quality, and he valued everyone.

Gil lived in my neighborhood so I would occasionally bump into him at the Grauls Supermarket.... however, I was pleasantly surprised by his "joie de vivre" when I would bump into him all over Baltimore - especially where there was an event, an opening party, an exhibition or a reception, the opera, the museums, etc... He was "where the action is," always by himself, confident and enjoying the moment. Inevitably, I'd get a big smile, a peck on the check ....and an innocent wink every now and then! He was young at heart!! He had a quiet understanding of human nature which made Gil a very warm, sincere and lovable gentleman -- a rare gem of a man.

-- Mahnoosh Alemi, AA&CC Board Member

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Gil was a wonderful and patient gentleman. We will fondly remember his musical contributions at Immaculate Conception and most of all his friendship. Requiescat in Pace.

-- Susan and Karl Aumann

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I have met Gil on many occasions and every time Gil always maintained a very pleasant and happy attitude towards life and the people around him. God Bless you Gil, I know you will rest in peace.

-- Richard Atzrott

* * * * *

Anna Brungardt and I became friends in our AAUW Reading Group. It was a very close-knit group which sometimes spent as much time being supportive of one another, as discussing the current book. At one of those meetings, I asked if anyone had information about a mutual fund I had seen advertised. No one responded. At the end of the gathering, Anna came to me and said that her husband was taking a class about investing and enjoyed talking about it.

Later a meeting was scheduled at their home and I met Gil. Many conferences later, he slapped a flyer on the table and said here was a trip for me. The flyer described the Asian Arts Center trip to China. That led to my association with AA&CC.

Both Anna and Gil were remarkable and wise. It was delightful to be with them. They were kind and thoughtful with a lively sense of humor. They truly were an example of the old adage, “In the mid-west, the handshake is a little stronger.” I miss them.

-- Beverly Brandau

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In 1972, when I arrived at what is now Towson University, I saw a building under construction. When I inquired as to what it was to be, I was told that the building was to house the fine and performing arts. When I asked who was in charge, I was directed to Dr. Gilbert A. Brungardt. What followed was a pleasant lunch where I brought up the question of why the dance program was not included in the new building. Thus began a long professional relationship with Gil that was to last until his retirement and long after as good friends.

I knew when I was hired that dance was housed under the physical education department; Gil explained that after endless discussions with members of that department, he gave up as they refused to let dance go elsewhere. I was hired under the pretext that I was to start a dance department; this proved to be a misnomer.

Gil told me that he would never consider himself a dean of the fine and performing arts until dance was included. It took several years but it did happen. In 1979 dance became a program within the music department, and in 1984 the bachelor of fine arts degree in dance performance and education was approved. The BFA brought a new degree to the university, and dance became a separate department in the College of Fine Arts and Communication. Gil often thanked me for making his dream come true.

                                                                                               -- Helene Breazeale, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus

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Gil was a superb human being, a perfect gentleman with a wonderfully dry and ready wit, and a good friend for more than thirty years through our mutual involvement in the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences, and beyond. My husband and I enjoyed playing golf with him when he occasionally visited us here on the Eastern Shore, and we are terribly saddened by his passing. Our deepest sympathy goes to his two lovely daughters and the rest of his family.

-- Lois Baldwin DeVoe, Berlin, Maryland

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Years ago we went to the first Noh theatre at Towson and sat next to Gil and Anna. She worked full time teaching and it was a Friday night. She must have been tired. As the play went on, Anna laid her head on Gil's shoulder and just rested there. I have never forgotten that.

When I was in charge of membership for the AA&CC, we had committee meetings to come up with new ideas. Expanding membership was always a challenge. Gil was always there to encourage and support and offer direction. That is another good example of his leadership of the Center.

-- Sandy Esslinger, AA&CC Board Member

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Dr. Brungardt possessed a beautiful soul that was so often reflected in his love of the arts. Under his careful and quiet guidance, the Summer Festival Theatre grew into the Maryland Arts Festival, the premiere summer arts presenter in Baltimore. We are all a little poorer for the loss of that legacy and for the loss of this man.

-- John Ford, Baltimore, Maryland 

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In the late 1960’s it was clear that the campus needed a fine arts building. The arts were growing rapidly and there were no facilities to accommodate the growth. A new music building was already in the works, but would not include theatre or art. Stan Pollack and I approached Gil to see if he would be willing to put the music building on hold in order to work together to get a building that would house all three departments. Gil agreed. It was because of Gil’s ever-present graciousness and willingness to collaborate that Towson was able to build the Fine Arts Center in any of the state universities.

Thirty years later, when the Fine Arts Center was slated for renovation, he was an advocate for the Dance Department to join music, art and theater in the new building.

-- Dick Gillespie

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I first met Dr. Brungardt as one of the parents in Professor Renaldo Reyes’ private piano class in the old Stephens Hall. Unlike other parents, Gil would join his daughters, Tessie and Margo, and other students in the solfege class, singing the piano notes. He was a young, involved father.

When the University received a large grant from the National Endowment for Humanities, there was a year of spectacular Asian musical performances, tea ceremony and the student performances of a Kabuki play under the direction of Shozo Sato. However, when the events ended by 1974, Dean Brungardt further implemented Asian culture and arts into the curriculum for students and the community. I joined the Roberts Gallery (the earlier name of the Center named after Frank Roberts who donated his ivory collection) as the second curator of the center. Gil suggested that I purchase some Asian musical instruments during my personal trip to Asia. In Taiwan I enlisted the help of the famous professor, Liang Tsai-Ping, who had performed at Towson the year before, and he helped me buy a dozen string instruments and drums. In Japan, I bought a gorgeous biwa, a tea bowl, a straw hat, straw shoes and a straw raincoat to be used in the Asia Van, which carried art objects and instruments to area schools to teach Asian art and culture.

During the 2004 trip to China (that was organized by the Center), I noticed how Gil was interested in observing music and art classes at an elementary school in Shanghai. As President and a board member, he had been quietly supportive and encouraging in every aspect of the activities. He was a good listener and a leader. Finally when I saw him at the Viewing with a rosary in his hands, I knew then that his love of family, friends and arts was never far from his faith.

-- Ock-Kyung Lee, Professor Emeritus, Art Department and AA&CC Board member

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Gil used to say I was dramatic. When I was chairperson, I would sometimes enter his office overjoyed with something, hurl myself upon the floor, and roll around in delight. Gil would just keep working on his computer or just sat looking at me. When I was finished he would say, ‘That was not one of your best performances.’

I entered Gil’s office one day and he was looking on this new technology called email. He said I had to learn it right away. I told him this new email was a passing thing and that I had no intention of sitting at my computer all day talking to people on a TV screen. He told me to sit down with him right now and learn it. Within a week the entire world was on email.

-- Maravene Loeschke, Former Dean, College of Fine Arts & Communication

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My dear friend Gil was such a wonderful friend and neighbor. My son Peter died shortly after I moved into my condo at 105 Belmont Forest Ct. and I did not have an occasion and the privilege of knowing his wife Anne. Many an evening, Gil would call me at dinner time and asked if he could join me for a cocktail before dinner. I felt I have known his dear wife and daughters very well thanks to his conversations. Gil would spend that hour telling me all about his dear Anne and his wonderful daughters and grandchildren. He was very proud of his family.

At one point, Gil reflected back on his career and felt he had not spent enough time with his family. I assured him that was a time when he was the “bread giver” and this is what he had to do at that stage in their lives. Toward the end, Gil would come down to my condo and just sit with very little to say, but just needed company.

I loved to tease Gil and would address him as “Professor.” He had a wonderful, dry sense of humor. I’ll miss him very very much as we all loved him here at Belmont Forest. He was a kind, funny man.

-- Marie Meroe

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My first experience with Gil was some years ago (we never have quite figured out how many but we guessed in the early- to mid- 1990s) when I was asked to represent my company, a financial and conceptual supporter of the Center, on the Center’s Board. Gil chaired the meeting as President and I marveled at the low-key approach he took to “managing” the discussion. Everyone seemed to have an opportunity to speak and express an opinion, if he or she had one on a specific topic. There were some disagreements but we ended the meeting without any lingering hard feelings and got the work done. Not a unique approach but a less common one and one that he employed very effectively. As I got to know him better, I realized that that was who he was and how he “managed’ – quietly, effectively and collegially – as my future dealings with him would reinforce.

I had long wondered how someone as accomplished – but soft-spoken – as Gil had not received some more visible recognition. He had achieved full-professor, tenured status, been a Department Chair (Music) and Dean of the College of Fine Arts & Communication (which, as I understand it, he was instrumental in consolidating from its component parts into its current form – no small task unto itself)! Three years ago, when he confided in the Center’s Board that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer – which he did, again, in a low-key, soft-spoken, one-on-one way – it was apparent that the time had come to rectify the situation.

I approached our Development Chair, John Danz, and he and I met and agreed to talk with Gil about establishing an endowment fund in his name. We both realized that he would not agree to being ‘featured’ in such a way but we pursued it with him anyway. We met for lunch at a local restaurant and laid out our proposal to him. As expected, he said, “No. There is no need to put my name on it. Just make it the Center’s Fund.” We persisted, telling him that we wanted to take this opportunity to recognize his contributions to the school and to the Center. Again, he said he did not want his name used; that he has received all the recognition he needed over the years. Only when we told him that we needed his name to give the Endowment a “personality,” to make it a more “personal” and not an “institutional” endowment, did he relent. Thus was born the “Dr. Gilbert A. Brungardt Endowment for the Benefit of the Asian Arts & Culture Center”.

Did we accomplish our objective – to provide recognition to a deserving but reticent champion (while initiating a long-term funding source for the Center)? In the first three years of its existence, the Endowment has grown to over $50,000 – five times the three-year threshold required by the University!

Thanks for letting us use your name, Gil, and a well-deserved “congratulations” to you!

Gil and I used to get together socially on occasion and have a light meal, a drink or a combination and just talk. Although he had made the transition, outwardly, from a Kansas rural background to Maryland urban living - from farm to University - our talks invariably reverted to the family farm, to his family on the farm and to his early years and, inevitably, to his dear Anne. I will not share the personal or family stories he told during those conversations but I will say that those talks showed that he held deep personal feelings for his background and for those whom he loved. He was not afraid to “tell stories on them” but did so in a way that made his love and reverence for them – his family and his Ann – obvious.

During one of our “chats”, I asked Gil how it came about that he decided to retire early when he did. He explained that Ann had been ill and that he wanted to spend more time with her. He also said that the University had just announced significant budget cuts and that, in order to implement them, he would have to reduce College of Fine Arts & Communications staff and make other changes in the College programs. As he considered what to do, he said, he thought about Ann and he thought about all that he had done over the years to build the College. Now he was being asked to reduce staff - many of whom he had recruited and nurtured - and to undo some of the programs instituted under his leadership. He said he could not bring himself to do either – that those on staff had trusted in him and that the programs were instituted because they were needed. He understood the need but it was not in him to do the cuts. On more than one occasion, he said, “I never regretted the decision and cherished the additional time with Ann.”

Somehow it seems very fitting that Gil decided to slip quietly away, during the holiday season, when the school was closed, when everyone was away, traveling or with family, caught up in year-end activities. What a perfect time for someone who does not want to make a fuss to quietly leave the scene and avoid, in his mind, disrupting the routine of those for whom he cared. So like the man – one who will be sorely missed by many, for so many reasons.

-- Anthony Montcalmo, President, AA&CC Advisory Board 

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Mr. Gil was my choir director at Immaculate Conception for many years. I first met him when I was 14. His wife, Ms. Anna, was the one person who encouraged me to be a teacher. Mr. Gil was truly a gifted person. My sympathies go out to his family. You will be missed.

-- Danielle Parsons-Slike

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I was fortunate to serve as the first Chair of the College of Fine Arts and Communication Advisory Board, and Dr. Gilbert A. Brungardt was the Dean. In 1986, we inaugurated the permanent collection of Maryland art, which was donated by distinguished Maryland artists. The collection consisted of photographs, sculptures, painting, ceramics and jewelry. The artwork continues to enrich the life of the University today.

Gil possessed great intelligence, creativity and sensitivity. He was caring, compassionate and gracious. I will miss his friendship. We have all lost a wonderful friend.

-- Lois Rosenfield

* * * * *

Gil hired me into this position 25 years ago. From day one he gave me his full trust and the freedom that a subordinate could ever dream for. He would not promise anything he couldn’t deliver. He kept his word like no others. Not only did he always do what he said but he would surprise me with so much more.

I had the privilege of working under him for 5 year before he retired from deanship. But the best years of interaction actually came later. In 1997 after his wife Anna died, he graciously accepted my invitation to lead the Asian Arts Advisory Board. For 10 years, he took the AA&CC under his arm and ran with it. He often was the first to show up at meetings and events ready to give his hand at whatever needed—setting up tables, moving chairs, hauling stuffs, even stuffing envelopes for mailing…once he was a bartender at a fundraising event. He’d do whatever it takes to get things done before I even asked. And if I did ask, he would say: “Whatever you say--You are the boss.” It was at this gesture of approval, I became fearless. The Center’s growth and success took off and continues to this day.

Gil never ceased to surprise me how he followed through and accomplished his plans. A quiet and gentle giant leading the way, he inspired people to be at their best enlightened by his profound qualities and wisdom. He was quiet but cheerful, like the spring sun, humble but confident like a mountain.

Today we have come together to pay homage to Gil and celebrate his full life. But still no words can express my sadness of this terrible loss. A role model, mentor and father figure to me, Gil was a gift from Heaven. I will always look up to him and keep up the work that he had started for us. Gil, we know you are with us in spirit. You will live on in my heart.

--Suewhei Shieh, Director, Asian Arts & Culture Center

* * * * *

Kathleen and I feel we have been very lucky to get to know Dr. Gil Brungardt albeit rather briefly. We really wish that we could have known him longer.

--Yoshinobu Shiota, AA&CC Board member 

* * * * *

I have known Gil for over 50 years from Washington University where he was an assistant to Donn Weiss (my husband at the time). We have kept Christmas correspondence since then. He was a true gentleman, wonderful musician, and father/husband. I knew you girls when you were very little and your mother too. I send you my deepest sympathy at this sorrowful time.

-- Ann Stanke, Madison, Wisconsin 

* * * * *
 

I am sad beyond words. Gil was a light in my life also. I have told people stories about visiting him and Anna, and I will continue to tell more, because as long as a person is not forgotten, they are still with us, in spirit. Your father has (present tense) great spirit. Gil lives on in my heart.

-- Charles Tiemann

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“I worked with Gil Brungardt as a volunteer at Towson University College of Fine Arts during his term as Dean of the College. We supported all of the Arts and especially the Summer Maryland Arts Festival. He was a talented and dedicated leader and inspired us all as advocates of the Arts. Gil will be missed.”

--Janet Tolbert, Sarasota, Florida


Asian Arts & Culture Center
Center for the Arts, Room 2037 (map)
Gallery Hours: Monday - Friday, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m.;
Saturday 1 - 4 p.m. (during exhibitions)

Phone: 410-704-2807
E-mail: asianarts@towson.edu

 


In Memoriam
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Dr. Gilbert A. Brungardt, former dean of the College of Fine Arts & Communication at Towson University, passed away on December 29, 2010.

 

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