Mrs. Dorothy (Mary) Casper Brunshidle, born on March 26, 1927 in Rochester, New York to the late Mary Ann Caroline “Marion” (Bauerschmidt / Bauersmith) Casper and the late Alphonse Benedict Casper, passed away at the age of 93 on January 21, 2020 in Cocoa, Florida. Dorothy was preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Robert James Brunshidle, son, James G. Brunshidle, foster brother, Paul Pasnikowski, and foster sister, Patricia Geen. Dorothy is survived by her sons, Robert A. Brunshidle, Thomas P. Brunshidle, Gregory J. Brunshidle, eight grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild. Friends and family may pay their respects at the celebration of Dorothy’s life on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 11:00 am at St. Mary Church, Rockledge, Florida. There will be no graveside service, however a reception will be held after the mass. Dorothy’s cremains will be interred with her husband Robert’s at the Cape Canaveral National Cemetery in Mims, Florida.
Dorothy was born and raised in Rochester, New York. She was the only biological child of Marion and Alphonse Casper who through Rochester Catholic Charities, fostered numerous children, including Paul and Patricia who became permanent placements and Dorothy’s lifelong friends.
She completed her primary education at Holy Family Catholic School in 1941. She attended Nazareth Academy Catholic High School for Girls. Dorothy earned her bachelors degree from the New York State University Teacher’s College in Brockport, New York in 1957. She returned to Brockport College to earn her Master of Science degree in 1968.
Dorothy was an active child. In addition to helping to care for her foster siblings, she enjoyed bicycling to local parks with her friends, where she swam and played sports, particularly basketball. While in high school, she was a member of the basketball team. Dorothy intended to enter the nursing profession after graduation and volunteered as a candy striper at St. Mary’s Hospital. While distributing magazines and newspapers, she was asked by a student nurse to help move and clean a large, immobile patient from a bedpan; and forevermore changed her career goal to education. After graduation, she and several of her friends matriculated into Brockport College’s newly created sports education program. She found the program to be strenuous and after a gymnastics course left her bruised from head to toe, she withdrew.
Dorothy first met Bob while she was visiting her aunt and cousins in Buffalo. Her cousin coincidentally happened to be John Merkel, who had been friends with Bob Brunshidle since their boy scout days. After Bob returned from army service after WW II, they were reunited when Dorothy and a friend were looking for dates for a spring dance at Brockport College. Dorothy suggested that she knew a nice boy from Buffalo who was able to bring a friend so they could double date. Afterwards, they commuter dated between Rochester and Buffalo, were engaged, then married January 4, 1947. They resided briefly in Buffalo where Bob was employed before relocating to Rochester. After their first son was born, they decided to end apartment living and contracted to have their home built in the town of Gates, where they would raise their family and reside until their retirement. After their first two sons were born, Dorothy returned to Brockport College and completed her bachelors degree in education. She worked as an elementary school teacher in the Gates-Chili school district spending most of her years at Washington Irving Elementary School. After the birth of their fourth son, she returned to Brockport College and completed her Master of Science degree in Education.
Dorothy had several friends who square danced, but was unsuccessful convincing Bob that he might find dancing to be fun. Eventually, she found her opportunity when the volunteer fire hall that Bob belonged to was having a picnic and square dance. Bob agreed to go because there would be food and beer, but left realizing that they had both enjoyed themselves. Lessons followed at a local club and before long, Dorothy and Bob were avid square dancers participating in several of the Rochester, NY dance clubs and starting a group called Swinging B’s in Spencerport, NY. They also enjoyed traveling to national square dance conventions and vacationing at dance resorts such as the Frank Lane Dance Ranch in Estes Park, CO.
Early in their marriage Bob and Dorothy began camping; first in cabins in Allegany State Park, then tents, and later in trailers and a motorhome. Their camping travels took them to destinations that included Nova Scotia, Colorado, Florida, Mexico, and nearly every other state. Dorothy found her traveling companion and fellow gypsy spirit in Bob. In addition to camping with her family and parents, they also toured throughout Europe, Hawaii, Central America, and New Zealand. Initially, they toured with summer time teacher / educator sponsored trips after Bob learned that part of the cost could be tax deductible. Later, they preferred to tour with smaller groups of friends where they could choose their destinations and pace.
After retiring in 1983, Dorothy and Bob were snow-birds for several years alternating between Rochester, NY and the Cocoa, FL area. Initially they spent their winters in their RV in a Rockledge, FL campground before purchasing a home. After the passing of Dorothy and Bob’s parents, they sold their Rochester home and settled full time in Rockledge, Florida. Several years later, they sold that house and purchased their dream home on the shore of the Indian River. They enjoyed a very active retirement, which provided great enjoyment, adventure, and a busy schedule. They remained active in square dancing; frequently dancing several times weekly; often traveling to west coast Florida clubs where their Rochester dance friends had settled. They also began bird watching, which integrated their love of travel, allowing them to accumulate a long lifetime list of sighted birds. Bird watching destinations including Costa Rica, Trinidad, Honduras, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and numerous US locations, particularly the southwest.
Another pastime they developed in their retirement was cruising. Their trips took them throughout the many Caribbean islands, the Baja coast, the Mayan coast, South America, and the Panama Canal. They often cruised with their friends and in their later years accompanied by their son, Greg.
Dorothy and Bob also enjoyed participating in Elderhostel programs. These are educational programs providing life-long learning opportunities for retirees on diverse topics and locations across the United States. They participated in 27 total programs with subjects that included local cultures and history, national parks, bird watching and migration, geology and ecology. They often traveled to these locations using their RV and leisurely explored and visited friends and family to and from.
Dorothy was a collector of many things, but most important among these were friends. She had many lifelong friends with some beginning in elementary school and her childhood neighborhood. Throughout high school, college, teaching, dancing, camping, vacations, and birding, she made friends and held onto them. She wrote letters, shared photographs, and couldn’t have been happier when nationwide toll-free calling started.
Dorothy and Bob enjoyed a long, happy, and adventurous life together. It may now be vogue to say that experiences matter more than material belongings, but that’s how they lived their lives. Travel, adventure, lifelong learning, and the company of friends and family made them happy and kept them young. Dorothy reveled in spending time with her children, grandchildren, and friends. During her last years, her greatest joy came from the frequent visits of her sons and grandchildren.
She died peacefully at home in the company of family.
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