Mildred “Harrison” Brunell
Birth: August 10, 1915 in Ottawa, Ontario
Death: March 17, 1986 (age 70) in Victoria, B.C.
Rabbi Victor Hillel Reinstein gave the following eulogy at his/her funeral:
Funeral: March 19, 1986; 8 Adar II 5746
Yahrzet: 6 Adar II (if leap year), 6 Adar (if not a leap year)
This is the moth of Adar, the week before Purim, traditionally a season of joy. But how distant joy seems now from those who are filled with sorrow for the death of Mildred Burnell. Yet there is something bittersweet in the tears that are shed today. Each tear waters a seed of memory that bears the fruit of joy and sweetness that was the lie of this beloved woman. She was a woman who faced life and all that comes with living with a joy for life. Today the sorrow is so deep because the love is deep. In the gift of enduring love there is profound joy, however muted, and in its timelessness she shall continue to give of herself and remind you of the preciousness of the relationship that has been yours to her and hers to you.
Mildred, “Aunt Min”, “Aunt Min and Uncle Bud”, as they have been known to so many regardless of the relationship, was a rare woman. She was of pioneering stock, born in Ottawa and growing up in Vancouver. In 1939 Min and Bud were married and so their partnership of some 47 years began. Their marriage was a wonderful partnership, which as a true partnership brought out the best in each other. They came to Victoria from Vancouver in 1952 and in June 1963 they took on the Holiday Court Hotel and side by side they worked together.
Min and But acted on their concern and caring for others. As the flames of the Holocaust that engulfed our people abated, they, along with other members of their family, responded to the need for homes for orphaned Jewish children who were child survivors. In 1949, they opened their home to a young Hungarian brother and sister, Helen and Emory, whose own parents perished with millions of our people in the Nazi death camps of Europe Min and Bud gave live, even unto grandchildren.
Nieces and nephews and grandnieces and nephews were crazy about their Aunt Min. She was a rock for then, a rock who was sensitive and caring and so positive in outlook. She was loving and understanding but also nurtured with wit and humor. For Ted, Larry and Ricki, whose Mom died in 1964, she was like a second Mom. Indeed she had been as a sister to their Mom, her brother Sid’s wife, Bertha. For these to whom she gave so much, “She was us”, as they say. She was for them clairvoyant, always calling at just the right time, anticipating tomorrow’s need and calling with a helpful word. At times she would jump on a plane and fly to Vancouver just for supper with one of the children. If any came to her home and asked what was for supper, she would ask “what do you want?” It was not uncommon for her to replace what was already cooked to correspond to the answer she got.
Min loved stories and babies. She was witty and gave strength and love. She was a woman of truths who spoke her mind and stood her ground when she needed to. She was an inspiration, a pillar of strength. As our tradition speaks of the Torah, so she was a tree of life to those who held fast to her. It is hard to imagine being without her presence now. As her family spoke of her, there was “not a kinder lady.” But it was not only family who thought so highly of her. It was all who came into contact with her. There was not a bad word of her from anyone. Her door was always open and within there was a pleasantness, whether for a visit by a friend for a morning cup of coffee, or a longer family visit. “If all people could be like her, ” said Larry, “It would be a better world.”
So may that be the blessing and the inspiration of her life to all of you and to us now as we go on. She was concerned for you and would want that now expressed in the manner of your living. At the season of Purim, a time of joy and sweet-filled hamentashen, may the sweetness of her life sustain you and nurture you and be for a blessing.
Gravesite Details: Row C – Plot 39
Herman William Brunell (1913-1988)