May 9th 1970 - Jul 28th 2013
Bonnie Maureen Brush was vibrant and loving, outgoing and a natural born teacher. She considered life an adventure and lived each moment with vigor. She had an inquisitive mind and open heart, sharing laughter as easily as her teaching skills. Her zest for life was infectious; she “put a sparkle in every room she entered with her humor and smile.” That was Bonnie.
Bonnie Maureen was born to Robert and Maureen (Carter) Brush on May 9, 1970 in Tampa, Florida. The middle of three children, Bonnie moved with her family from Tampa, where her father had interned at Tampa General Hospital, to Atlanta and then back to Tampa before settling in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1977. She attended South Christian Elementary School and then Kalamazoo Christian High, graduating with the Class of 1988. Despite the sadness of her parents’ divorce in 1987, Bonnie greeted life with the energy of a teen. She was active in whatever she did, whether rough-housing with her pet collie Corrie or going on church youth trips with First Presbyterian Church youth group. Like her mother and her brothers, Bonnie played drums in high school and, also like her mother and older brother, she declared English as her major in college.
While a student at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Bonnie was a member of the drama club and was thrilled to perform as well as attend performances. Such experiences contributed to her degree and career choice: teaching English. Her first teaching job was in North Carolina, but after a year, she returned to Kalamazoo and her loving family.
Amazingly, Bonnie chose to teach during the summer—not scholastic subject matter but trapeze! She taught basic skills at circus camp, where she met and became friends with students from Russia. She began taking Russian language classes that served her well when she decided to join the Peace Corps. For two years, Bonnie taught English to children in a suburb of Moscow and loved it. It was the experience of a lifetime, and the friendships she made were a compelling reason to visit several times in the ensuing years.
Most recently, Bonnie was teaching English at East Kentwood High School where she was adored by all her students. During her years of teaching at East Kentwood, Bonnie was involved in multiple school productions, acting as Stage Manager. Not only was she creative, but her accompanying love for the students fostered an environment in which kids could thrive and learn.
Even on her personal time, Bonnie was teaching and learning. She was an avid reader and listened to all types of music, from classical to rock. She danced and she sang with the Calvin Oratorio Society for three of its annual performances of Handel’s Messiah. She rarely missed circus performances that came to town and indulged her own love of the Big Top by splurging on tickets for her nephew and nieces.
Though her “sport” was the trapeze, she took up swimming and running as she trained for several 5K races. She sewed and gardened, cooked and baked (notably, gourmet cupcakes), hosted Easter dinners in her home and made batch after batch of fudge for friends and family at Christmas. Even vacation time was an opportunity to experience more of life. Bonnie could make any vacation spot a place of discovery and adventure.
For the past three summers, Bonnie had vacationed with best friend Cindy (Nieboer) Eisel and her family. As a result, Bonnie grew very close to Cindy’s children and felt like part of the family. It was on her way back from their annual trip that Bonnie suffered a tragic automobile accident.
Bonnie is mourned and remembered by a community of friends and family, students and colleagues who take comfort in her life lived with joy and purpose.
Bonnie Maureen Brush, age 43 of Grand Rapids, Michigan, died Sunday, July 28, 2013 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more about Bonnie and visit with her family and friends while sharing some food and refreshments Thursday from 5:00 – 8:00 PM at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo, 6080 Stadium Drive; 269-375-2900. Services will be held Friday 11:00 AM at the First Presbyterian Church (321 W. South St.) followed by a luncheon in the fellowship hall. Burial at Riverside Cemetery. Members of her family include her father, Robert E. (Sidney) Brush, Jr. MD and mother, Maureen Brush; 2 brothers: Beaumont (Susan) Brush and Robert Brush III; 2 step-brothers: Todd (Eva) Juzwiak and Dan (Kara) Juzwiak; Aunt Amy Brush, Uncle Mike (Louise) Carter; cousin, Darren Gibson; nephew, Isaac and nieces: Chloe and Delaney; step-nephews: Chester and Stanley and many other aunts, uncles and cousins. Please visit Bonnie’s personal web page at www.lifestorynet.com, where you can archive a favorite memory or photo and sign her online guestbook before coming to the funeral home. Memorial contributions may be made to Memorial Scholarship Fund, East Kentwood High School. Please make checks payable to East Kentwood High School.