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Farewell to a Friend

Bernice Brandel

Bernice Brandel, a generous supporter of North Park University and the namesake of its Brandel Library, passed away on July 8.

NORTHBROOK, IL (July 8, 2009) – North Park University is celebrating the life of Bernice P. Brandel, who died July 8 at the age of 95.

Bernice and her late husband, Paul W. Brandel, were faithful supporters of the University, Seminary, and Evangelical Covenant Church, helping to launch and fund numerous ministries and educational endeavors benefitting people around the world.

Born May 10, 1914, in Chicago, Bernice had recently celebrated her 95th birthday. She married Paul on January 3, 1976, and the couple enjoyed 10 years of marriage before his death.

The Brandels were very committed to education and ministry and provided generous support to North Park over more than 50 years. They helped fund North Park’s exchange program with Sweden, contributed significantly to the full-tuition Presidential Scholarships in the Seminary, and endowed two Seminary professorships that bear their name. In 1991, North Park also awarded Bernice an honorary doctorate of laws.

“Bernice was an outstanding supporter of North Park in every way,” says President David Parkyn. “She has made an incredible difference in the lives of both students and faculty across the entire North Park community. She truly was a role model for us all.”

In fact, Bernice changed the landscape of the University forever, by becoming the lead donor for construction of the Paul W. and Bernice P. Brandel Library, which was dedicated in 2001. 

“It was a pleasure working with this spunky woman who had an overly generous heart for the cause of Christ,” says LeRoy Johnson, president emeritus of Covenant Trust Company and former vice president of development for North Park.

Paul Brandel was long known for his generosity before marrying Bernice, but she continued his legacy. She lived by the biblical credo, “To whom much is given, much is expected,” observed Mel Soderstrom, a longtime family friend and University development officer.

John Phelan, Seminary president and dean, admired her interest in all aspects of life. “Lunch with Bernice meant a wide-ranging conversation that could include the situation of the church in Sweden, the economy and politics in the United States, or theological and biblical questions,” he says. “She was generous with her financial resources, but her greatest gift to those of us who knew her was herself.”