Generations of Saint Louis University students know Mary Bruemmer as a mentor, an advisor and a friend. In 2020, Bruemmer adds another notable item to the list: centenarian.
Bruemmer turns 100 on Feb. 26, 2020. For more than three-fourths of those years, she’s been linked to SLU as a student, alumna, administrator, athletics fan and volunteer.
Quietly Making History
Serving under seven University presidents, Bruemmer was present at SLU for many firsts — quite a few of which she achieved herself. Enrolled as an undergraduate at a time when fewer than 5% of the student body was female, she was the first female editor of the University News and SLU's yearbook. She later directed SLU’s first female residence hall, was the second-ever dean of women and was the first dean of students.
I discovered that, in competing for acceptance, grades or honors, the secret was to act as if prejudice and discrimination did not exist, to presume that I would exceed and excel."Mary Bruemmer
She advised SLU’s Oriflamme spirit organization for close to two decades and its chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu. Always an advocate for women, she was the founder and a charter member of the University’s Women’s Commission and the recipient of SLU's first "Woman of the Year" award.
Bruemmer has amassed University honors, from statues (she has two dedicated to her) to dedicated on-campus spaces (a conference room and a plaza bear her name). Civic and religious honors bear her name too, including a papal knighthood naming her Dame Commander of the Order of Saint Sylvester, Pope and Martyr.
Mary Bruemmer reflects on how dedicating your life to something — in her case, Saint Louis University — contributes to happiness and longevity.
Decades after retiring officially and a few years from her unofficial departure from daily visits to campus, Bruemmer remembers generations of students by name, but, more importantly, they remember her.
University president Fred Pestello, Ph.D., and the Saint Louis University community will celebrate the life and legacy of Bruemmer from 2 to 5 p.m., Feb. 26 in the Saint Louis Room of the Busch Student Center. A brief formal program will begin at 3 p.m. Complimentary parking will be available in the Laclede Garage (3602 Laclede Ave).
An exhibit honoring Bruemmer will also be on display at Pius XII Memorial Library.
Consider contributing to the Women’s Council Mary Bruemmer Endowed Scholarship in honor of Bruemmer's 100th birthday. All gifts of $100 or more will be matched by Go Further, SLU’s scholarship matching program.
The Women’s Council Mary Bruemmer Endowed Scholarship, established in 1985, benefits undergraduate students across the University and is awarded to around eight Billikens each year.