In Memoriam – George Bruner

George Bruner Headshot
George Bruner


George Bruner, a long-standing bright light In District 10, passed away on January 15, 2023.  George found great joy in giving back to his clubs, the District, and most importantly other members. He always arrived with a brilliant smile and a can-do attitude. He made everyone he interacted with feel capable and empowered, and they walked away from any interaction with a lifelong friend, even if they had just met. 

Fellow club members shared:

” In just a short time of having George in our club, I learned so much from him.   He brought us many speeches on many topics.  I’m thankful I had this time with him!” – Wendi Polman, DTM

“George was a driving force in AM Akron Toastmasters. Before moving to Florida, George was our President and prior to that our VP of Education. He was responsible for moving us to an online presence almost immediately upon the Covid lockdowns. We only missed a couple of weeks. 

He moved to Florida shortly after and joined us frequently on ZOOM.  In fact, he last gave a speech in our club on Wednesday, the 28th of December titled “Forgive, Forget and Renew.” Little did we know it would be the last time we would hear from him.

George was known for his wicked sense of humor, sometimes perverse, and when he was Table Topics Master you could count on engaging topics with a twist. Last week, in his memory, the Word of the Day was “Bumfuzzle.” So appropriate, and so George.

I knew George outside of Toastmasters. We were both members of NSME (National Sales & Marketing Executives) and the Canal Fulton Chamber of Commerce, where he was a regular participant in a mastermind group I led. George had a curious streak and never stopped learning.

George and I shared our Marine Corps heritage, he in regulars, and me in the Reserves. We were both Mud Marines (infantry), though, after 4 years, he joined the Air Force (who said Marines aren’t smart) because the food was better, and they didn’t sleep on the ground.

I will truly miss George, his quick wit, fast smile, and kind heart. And, as he would often say, his “Arizona accent”, something I never quite understood.

Semper Fi, my friend!” – Craig D. Chamberlain , SR3

“A great friend and a great Toastmaster, he was a dearly loved member of AM Akron Toastmasters. He served as president of our club and took on responsibilities at the District as well. He was always present at contests at the Club, Division, and District.

George listened intently to each speech, and provided helpful, encouraging feedback to all of us. He also worked hard for his own growth as well. He was a Marine and thought his leadership style was too directive. He was used to giving orders and things would get done. He worked hard at speaking gently and quietly, and in making suggestions rather than giving orders. He grew a lot in that area!

I miss him so much—he left us too soon.” – Lynn Green

“He was a dedicated and conscientious Toastmaster who consistently demonstrated his commitment to the Toastmasters core values of integrity, respect, service, and excellence. He was always interested in learning and in helping others succeed. He will be missed.” – Vicky Nann, DTM, PDD

“Consummate Professional and Competent Leader:   George did what he said he was going to do, and he wasn’t afraid to make decisions.

Funny and Confident:  George could make us laugh and was also willing to laugh at himself.  I will miss his smile.  I will miss his laughter.  

George cared about the Club, and he cared about us.  He was a rule-following, goal setting, gem of a Toastmaster!  

George spoke with a Pennsylvania dialect that often made things interesting.   I am better for having known George!” – Cyndi Kane, PM1

“George will be missed. He was most dependable and a just-do-it guy. Always willing to help without ever complaining. George always had a speech in his pocket and a smile on his face. I remember meeting his daughters at a toastmaster picnic a few years ago. He did all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning. I will miss his great attitude and curious wit.” – Carole Hayden Rice, ACG, CL

“Dear George,

From the bottom of my heart, I just want to say Thank You!! Thank you for providing vibrant energy in every room you walked into. Thank you for your magnetic smiles. Thank you for providing humor in every speech you have ever given.

Here’s my favorite and most fond memory of George: One day shortly after covid came into our lives, AM Akron had to make some hard decisions about no longer meeting in person. Shortly after taking a few weeks off of meeting in person, George reached out to every member of AM Akron and asked them the same question. “We are considering moving our meetings over to Zoom since we can no longer meet in person. Would you be open to trying this out so that we can continue our meetings but have them virtually?”. My response was almost instant. I told him that Toastmasters seemed very much like an “in-person only” kind of meeting and that I would rather just wait things out until we met in person again. George’s response to this caught me off guard. He simply just said: “Ok, well we are going to try this Zoom thing out anyways and I really look forward to seeing you attend our first virtual meeting next Wednesday!”. I was shocked with his response but couldn’t argue! I immediately agreed to attend and told him I look forward to seeing him on Zoom!

The reason why I share this story is because that one decision that George made taught me a lot about leadership. At the time George was the president of AM Akron and without hesitation, he made a decision that he thought was the right decision for our group. In fact, if it wasn’t for his decision, We wouldn’t have had a meeting at all for close to 2 years!! It’s possible that this might have even led to the end of AM Akron..! Because of Goerge, I have still been able to attend Toastmasters weekly for the past 2 years and have loved every minute of it. George was a great leader, a great father, a great husband, a great friend, and such a wonderful and entertaining speaker. 

From myself and the rest of AM Akron Toastmasters, I would like to say this: We all Loved you dearly George, and you will be forever missed! 

Rest in Peace, my dear friend.” – Dominic Lofreso, PM5(Current President of AM Akron thanks to George’s inspiring leadership)

While we say goodbye to George Bruner, his light still shines on within District 10, and the individuals’ lives he has impacted. May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.

Jenilee Taylor, DTM, PDD, PRA

The entries in this blog are the opinions of their respective authors. These opinions are not authorized by, endorsed by, sponsored by, or otherwise affiliated with Toastmasters International.
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