Gilbert A. Brungardt, Towson U. music professor, dies

He had also been music and choral director at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson

  • Dr. Gilbert Brungardt
Dr. Gilbert Brungardt
January 03, 2011|By Frederick N. Rasmussen, The Baltimore Sun

Gilbert Ambrose Brungardt, a retired professor of music who had been chairman of the music department and later dean of Towson University's College of Fine Arts and Communication, died Wednesday of cancer at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium.

He was 80.

Dr. Brungardt, the son of cattle and wheat farmers, was born and raised on the plains of Western Kansas near Victoria. He was a 1948 graduate of St. Joseph's Seminary in Rensselaer, Ind.

He earned a bachelor's degree in 1952 in music education from Fort Hays State College in Hays, Kan., and had served with the National Guard in the early 1950s.

"He played saxophone in a dance band to pay his way through college," said a daughter, Theresa Brungardt of Hampstead.

Dr. Brungardt was also an accomplished organist and pianist.

While at Fort Hays, he met and fell in love with Anna McConnell, a fellow chorus member whom he married in 1955. Mrs. Brungardt, who was an elementary school educator, died in 1997.

Dr. Brungardt earned a master's degree in music from Washington University in St. Louis, and his doctorate in musical arts in 1966 from the University of Illinois at Champaign.

Dr. Brungardt began his professional career as an educator in the early 1950s as choral director at Belleville High School in Belleville, Kan.

He then joined the faculty of Washington University, where he remained until 1961, when he began teaching at the University of Illinois.

Dr. Brungardt began teaching and was director of what was then Towson State College's Community Choral Society in 1963. Two years later, he joined the faculty of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y.

He returned to Towson in 1967 as chairman of the music department. He later was dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communication, a position he held until retiring in 1991.

"He loved music and teaching it and taught it passionately," Ms. Brungardt said.

"Gil was one of the quietest and gentlest individuals I've ever known and with it accomplished much in his life," said Anthony J. "Tony" Montcalmo, who first got to know him in the late 1990s when Mr. Montcalmo joined the board of the Asian Arts and Culture Center at Towson University, of which Dr. Brungardt had been a founding member.

"He was one of the most self-effacing individuals I've ever met. And, still, in the course of his career, he acquired a Ph.D., became a full professor at two different universities, and chair of the music department, dean of the school of fine arts and acting provost during his tenure at Towson," Mr. Montcalmo said.

"He actually modified his programs at one point so that he could share his budget as a department head with other departments in need," Mr. Montcalmo said. "Again, a truly good man who will be sorely missed by family, the community and his many friends."

The Asian Arts and Culture Center began in 1971 when Frank Roberts donated a collection of Chinese and Japanese ivory carvings to the university.

The mission of the organization, which has an on-campus gallery, is to promote the arts and culture of Asia through various programs.

Dr. Brungardt, who had been president of the center's board since 1997, was succeeded in 2008 by Mr. Montcalmo.

In honor of his years of service, the center's advisory board established the Gilbert A. Brungardt Endowment for the Benefit of the Asian Arts & Culture Center.

He also was a founder in 1982 of the Maryland Arts Festival, which was held on campus. He was also active for many years with the Young Audiences of Maryland and the Maryland Arts Council.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Brungardt was music and choral director at Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church, where he was also a communicant.

Dr. Brungardt was diagnosed four years ago with the cancer that claimed his life.

"Singing and conducting choruses was his real love," his daughter said. "He sang with the choir only two weeks ago. He was a tough character who kept going."

An impeccable dresser, Dr. Brungardt, who collected hats, was never without one of the fedoras from his collection, family members said.

"He was a man of great intelligence and strong opinions, tempered by his diplomatic skills and dry wit," his daughter said. "He was a kind and patient man who met adversity with a positive attitude and without complaint."

The former Towson resident, who had lived in Timonium since 1995, enjoyed playing the piano, singing and traveling.

Family members said Dr. Brungardt conducted and sang his last words from his hospice bed.

"I love you, I love you, I love you," he sang.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Tuesday at his church at Baltimore and Ware avenues, Towson.

Also surviving are another daughter, Margo Brungardt Smith of Parkville; a brother, Paul Brungardt of Victoria, Kan.; four sisters, Valeria Brungardt of Fond du Lac, Wis., Cecelia Brungardt of Wichita, Kan., Yvonne Rohleder of Hays and Ruth Polifka of Catherine, Kan.; and four grandchildren.

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