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Memorials: Claremont Monthly Meeting

David Bruner

Date of birth

June 18, 1933

Date of death

June 3, 2021


Claremont Monthly Meeting

Memorial minute

David Bruner was born in New York City in the heart of the Great Depression. His father, David Kenneth Bruner, was a professor of Sociology, and his mother, Catherine Rich Bruner, was a writer and editor for the Society Friends. His was a difficult birth, and he was an only child.

David’s family moved from one college to another as he was growing up, from Pennsylvania to the Midwest and finally to California. He loved traveling by train with his mother and father, and spoke warmly of those family trips during his childhood. In 1947, they settled in Stockton, California. 

From his earliest years, David demonstrated what he called “an addiction” to anything mechanical: model trains, planes, and automobiles. Throughout his long life, he loved nothing better than spending hours working on a model of some kind. He was a member of the Society for Antique Modelers and a collector of toy trains. David also loved classical music and singing in choirs. Dvorak, Berlioz, and Mahler were favorites of his. 

David attended Earlham College then transferred to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, majoring in mechanized agriculture in 1959. He was a conscientious objector during the Korean War, and enjoyed working for Goodwill directing, driving, and unloading boxes in Northern California. He married Helen Cohn while attending the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

David’s mechanical mind found a home at the California Department of Transportation, where he spent his entire career. His greatest satisfaction lay in working in the field on road-building projects. He was most proud of improving a very dangerous stretch of Highway 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains.

David was an active member of Berkeley Meeting and San Francisco Meeting during his most productive years. He took a sabbatical in 1985 to study Quakerism at Pendle Hill in Philadelphia. His time there had a lasting impact on him, and reinvigorated his participation in Quaker Meetings.

When he retired, David moved to Claremont, where his grandmother’s house still stands. He moved to Mt. San Antonio Gardens in 2002, where he married Fran Feeny. He served the Meeting faithfully over many years as Clerk of the Finance Committee and Nominating Committee, and on the Board of Directors. David was outspoken, a man of strong convictions and a generous supporter of Claremont Friends Meeting, AFSC, the Democratic Party, and the Nature Conservancy. His unequivocal voice will be deeply missed.

David is survived by his wife, Fran Bruner, his two daughters, Gail and Margaret Bruner, and his son David M. Bruner and son-in-law, Greg Tudor. He was the beloved adopted grandfather of Sarah Ross. He was predeceased by his daughter Anne Bruner.