Let Us Introduce You: 1942 SLU Alumna Leaves Indelible Legacy

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Let Us Introduce You: 1942 SLU Alumna Leaves Indelible Legacy

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It would make sense to assume that one or two of Saint Louis University’s glorious statues as well, as a room in DuBourg Hall, are dedicated to a generous benefactor of the school.  Generous is certainly the right word to describe SLU’s own Mary Bruemmer, but by no means was it her wallet that earned her the dedication of both The Lady of the Way statue behind Fusz Hall and The Pilgrim statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola on the quad.  Instead, Bruemmer has donated time and energy during her 55 years of service to SLU.  As a 1942 graduate, she has watched the neighborhood change and the University grow and develop.  After graduation, Bruemmer spent 13 years doing various jobs in Springfield, Ill., but it seemed that her heart truly belonged on this side of the Mississippi.

After entering a large room on the fourth floor on DuBourg, Bruemmer makes a point to stop and look out the window at the impressive view of the heart of campus.  It seems fitting that the room from where so much of SLU can be admired is also dedicated to Bruemmer.  The distance from the ground gives the onlooker the feeling of being on top of the world, which is also appropriate for Bruemmer’s position at SLU.  She laughs as she explains that since she has been at the school for such a long time, she is one of the only people left with a detailed knowledge of certain aspects of the school’s history.  She notes that not a week goes by where someone does not ask her to remember a specific fact or event.

“I represent the institutional memory,” Bruemmer said.

After her graduation and time in Springfield, Bruemmer was offered a job as the director of the brand new all girls’ Marguerite Hall in 1956.  In 1960, her responsibility expanded when she became the director of Rogers Hall (now Jesuit Hall).  In 1967 she was made the dean of women, and in 1972 Bruemmer beat out two men for the dean of students position.  Bruemmer retired in 1985 after 29 years of working in student life.  She did not take much of a break, however, as she soon became the first director of stewardship.  In 1990, she tried the retirement idea again, and committed herself to becoming a full time volunteer.  She worked with the Jesuit Honors Society and Alpha Sigma Nu, and in 1973, she founded The Women’s Commission, with which she now spends all of her time.  The commission serves as a resource for the faculty, staff, administrators and students to promote the interests, issues and concerns of women at the University.”

Perhaps Bruemmer takes the time to admire the view from her room in DuBourg because she has had the opportunity to watch the scenery change over her many years here. “The University has grown up with the city,” Bruemmer said.

During her life, she has grown to appreciate what St. Louis has to offer, despite the fact that she has seen the city miss opportunities to become a truly thriving metropolis, as well as witnessed many Fortune 500 companies pack up and leave.  She has seen the importance of this city firsthand.

“At one time, every train that came north, south, east or west had to come through St. Louis at the beautiful Union Station,” said Bruemmer.

Bruemmer describes “the softness and charm of the south and the business and drive of the north” as part of the city’s allure. Bruemmer continues to enjoy the Grand Center and theatre district, remembering the time when it was known as the “Great White Way,” housing eight different theatres and being the true heart of the city.  She is impressed with the strides the district has made over the past five years.  The Fox Theatre is still home to one of her favorite memories – seeing Gone with the Wind in 1939 when it premiered.

The fourth floor room in DuBourg is home to not only a spectacular view but also something else dear to Mary Bruemmer’s heart.  The room holds her personal collection of items including the fleur-de-lis, which is featured on both St. Louis’ flag and SLU’s logo.  Over the years, Bruemmer took a “slow adoption” to the symbol partly because SLU had done so and partly because it is associated with her namesake, Mary the Mother of God.  She explains that over the years she learned that the three leaves of the fleur-de-lis were meant to symbolize faith, loyalty and charity, three characteristics that she admires. It seems that she is the one to be admired, both for her years of service and for her continuous dedication to the people of the University.