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Obituary – William Frederick “Bill” Brunk

Bill BrunkSan Diego, California – William F. “Bill” Brunk, the son of Salvation Army officers, died in San Diego on Dec. 9 after months of declining health. He was 89.

A native of Nyack, N.Y., Bill, and his family moved more than a half-dozen times during his early childhood to fulfill Salvation Army service assignments in New Jersey. The family ultimately settled in Palmer, Mass., where his father, Alexander Brunk, pastored a Free Methodist Church.

Bill’s life trajectory changed forever at the age of 16 when his father died suddenly when Bill was out swimming with friends. Days later, at the memorial service for Alexander Brunk, Merlin G. Smith, then-president of Roberts Wesleyan College (RWC) in Rochester, N.Y., invited Bill to finish his high school studies at Roberts, which had a high school at the time. After conferring with his mother and siblings Bill accepted the offer, finished high school, and enrolled at RWC, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1955.

Seeking to follow in the footsteps of his father, Bill enrolled at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky, and earned a Master of Religious Education degree in 1957. He then returned to Roberts as dean of men. The following year he was appointed dean of students, a post he held for nine years. In 1967, he was named vice president of development at RWC to head the college’s capital expansion program. In this role, the affable Bill developed astute gift planning skills that matched donative desire with institutional vision, and he formed and maintained relationships with business leaders and people of influence from all walks of life. During a career that spanned more than three decades, he brought these unique skills to work in development roles at numerous institutions of higher education and service organizations, including the University of Rochester and Asbury Theological Seminary, where he helped to orchestrate an eventual $68 million gift to Asbury from the estate of Ralph Waldo Beeson, a retired insurance executive.

Bill went on to assume subsequent development officer roles, including a return to RWC, followed by the Rochester Institute of Technology, Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, Western Evangelical Seminary in Portland, Ore., The Redwood Foundation in Escondido, Calif., and the San Diego Rescue Mission. After formally retiring in 1997, Bill served as a consultant for numerous organizations including Habitat for Humanity in San Diego, and Central Christian College in McPherson, Kan.

His desire to help people extended well beyond his professional life. Bill showered others with generosity, including drawing from his personal connections to recommend friends for employment, instilling confidence and a sense of purpose in those who sought direction in life and providing financial assistance to those facing hardship.

During his college and seminary days, Bill was a proud member of the Sacred Aires male quartet, which performed in churches and at church campgrounds in the Eastern United States. He considered his fellow Sacred Aires Don Frederick, Clyde Van Valin, and Bob Alfonso as brothers, and the men remained lifelong friends. Bill sang high tenor, which contrasted with his six-foot, five-inch frame.

Bill was an ordained minister in the Church of the Nazarene, and over the years he officiated weddings for numerous family members and friends. He cherished spending time with his family and grand dogs and cheering on the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team.

Bill was preceded in death by his parents, Alexander and Violet Brunk, and by his sisters, June (Terry) Sullivan and Elsie (Charlie) Finlayson.

Bill is survived by his wife of 68 years, Genevieve; son Robert (Debra) of San Marcos, and son Doug (Vickie) of San Diego.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to Roberts Wesleyan College or to the Salvation Army.


Central Christian College of Kansas is a regionally accredited institution offering undergraduate and graduate-level programs. Central strives to offer Christ-centered education for the whole person – heart, mind, soul, and strength. Its history dates back to 1884, and it is located in the friendly town of McPherson, Kansas. Central is a strategically small college that offers over forty areas of residential study and a thriving online program for non-traditional students. To learn more about Central go to Visit the Foundation of Central Christian College to see what projects and events are coming up.

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