Deacon Robert J. Brunell, Sr., 81, of New Haven, entered into eternal rest on Jan. 25, 2018.
He is survived by his beloved wife of 54 years, Phyllis Lupone Brunell; and their four children Mary Pursell (Thomas), Gloria Ybarra (Ernesto), Phyllis Lobo (David), and Robert J. Brunell II. He also leaves five grandchildren: Vincent Ybarra, Florette Pursell, Caitlin Pursell, Vimal Lobo, and Antonio Lobo; his sisters-in-law Marabel Santagata of New Haven, and Joan Butcher of Wallingford; and brothers-in-law Salvatore Lupone of New Haven, and Richard Lonergan of West Haven, and many nieces and nephews, cousins and friends.
Bob was born on January 19, 1937 in Meriden to Raymond W. and Florette Boisvert Brunell, and was the brother of Gloria F. Brunell, Ph.D., Raymond W. Brunell Jr., Bellerose (Brunell) Carney Chrzanowski, and Cristle (Brunell) Lonergan.
Bob attended high school at Saint John’s Atonement Seminary in Montour Falls, New York (Graymoor Friars), and went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English and philosophy from Fairfield University. He also attended the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana on a graduate fellowship in philosophy before returning to Connecticut to raise his family.
Bob was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Hartford on February 4, 1973, by Archbishop John F. Whealon. This was the very first ordination to the Permanent Diaconate in the Archdiocese of Hartford.
He ministered to the parishes of Saint Francis Cabrini in North Haven, Saint Aedan in New Haven, Saint Brendan in New Haven, Blessed Sacrament in Hamden, and Ascension in Hamden.
He was esteemed by the pastors and fellow deacons with whom he served, and appreciated by the parishioners to whom he ministered.
Early in his career, Bob taught Latin and English in the New Haven and Southington school districts, and in 1971 was elected President of the Connecticut State Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL/CIO. As president of the teacher’s union, he achieved important advances in the representation of teachers and their right to organize. In fact, he was so successful that he was later hired by the United Federation of Teachers, AFT, AFL/CIO as Coordinator of Organization, Assistant to the President.
Bob served for more than 35 years as the Director of Scientific Affairs for the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS). In this role, he led the establishment and ongoing oversight of accreditation of Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs for physicians in Connecticut.
Also, he was a member of the executive team that spearheaded the founding of several important and successful organizations including the Connecticut Peer Review Organization (CPRO, now known as Qualidigm), the Connecticut Medical Insurance Company (CMIC), the Connecticut State Medical Society Independent Practice Association (CSMS-IPA), and MD Health Plan.
Those who knew Bob, knew that he could very often be found praying the Liturgy of the Hours from his always close at hand breviary. He prayed without ceasing, and made everything he did a prayer.
Bob had a very deep reverence, devotion, and love for Our Lord present in the Holy Eucharist. He was a dedicated and talented homilist, and gave trustworthy and uplifting spiritual nourishment through his homilies, reinforcing the greatest spiritual nourishment that he could provide as an ordinary minister of Holy Communion.
Bob had a brilliant intellect and power of words, matched with immense wisdom. He was an avid reader and possessed a wealth of knowledge. He especially loved learning about science, history, theology, and was fascinated with the world around him and enjoyed exploring it through travel.
In his later years, he became an avid fan of the New York Yankees.
He was a member of San Salvador Council No. 1, Knights of Columbus, and John Barry Assembly No. 97, Knights of Columbus.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden, 67 Round Hill Road, Middletown, CT 06457; Sacred Heart Manor, c/o Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, 261 Benham Street, Hamden, CT 06514; Our Lady of Grace Monastery, 11 Race Hill Road, North Guilford, CT 06437.