*In Memory*

Odette "Tookie" Bruns


Odette Elizabeth "Tookie" Bruns

Odette Elizabeth "Tookie" Bruns, a pioneer in high school girls' sports who became a beloved teacher and coach at CPP East High School for more than three decades and later an accomplished stained glass and jewelry maker, died on Wed., Feb. 19, in Rochester, N.Y. She was 73.

Odette was born Nov. 26, 1946, to John and Jean Bruns, both of whom preceded her in death. Nicknamed "Tookie" by her father, she resided in Corning for more than 60 years. During summers, you could always find her on Keuka Lake, at the cottage of lifelong friends Susan Jamison Kath and her sisters Glenda and Mary Beth.

Odette was a person of many talents, interests and friends. A gifted athlete, she excelled at tennis, even defeating members of the high school (boys) team during the pre-Title IX era when there was no girls' team. After graduating from CPP West HS in 1965, she attended CCC, where she was named Best Female Athlete of the Year. A year later she entered Ithaca College to study physical education, graduating in 1969. Years later, she explained why phys. ed: "I was inspired by the actions of my brothers. In order to keep up with them I was always playing baseball, basketball or football."

From 1971 to 2003 Odette devoted her life to CPP East and the thousands of girls she coached, taught and advised there. Just in her second year at CPP East, and still the new kid on the block, Odette led the effort to establish the girls track team, one of the first in the area. That first season more than 100 girls tried out. So new was girls track that Odette had members of the boys track team show the girls how to sprint, run hurdles, and so on. She ran the boys ragged, ordering them repeatedly to do it "one more time" until the girls got it.

Title IX was a game changer, Odette told The Leader in 2003. "The staff thought it was just a bunch of girls trying to have some fun tossing a javelin around. But girls took sports every bit as seriously as boys." More importantly, sports were good for them. "Participating in sports has given many of them much more confidence, self-discipline and leadership skills," she said.

Odette also coached East's cheerleading squad and the Trojettes dance team and served as advisor to numerous classes. She served as county chair of the girls Section V conference and chair of East's physical education, music and art department.

Upon her retirement in 2003, Odette moved to Rochester. There, she pursued a second career in stained glass and jewelry making, frequently exhibiting at art festivals and producing commissioned works. Examples of her stained-glass pieces can be found in homes and businesses throughout the region. One of her largest ones, a memorial to the Northside residents who built St. Vincent's church, will be permanently displayed at St. Mary's.

Besides her family and her dogs, the great loves of Odette's life included her many friends, including some friendships that dated back to grade school and new ones she made in Rochester. From that perspective, Odette was the "richest women in town," to paraphrase an old movie line. Through the highs and lows of her life, they were always there for her.

Odette is survived by her brothers, John (Beth) of Victor, NY, William (Margaret) of Colorado, Andrew (Judith) of Jensen Beach, Fla., Kevin of Chevy Chase, Md., and Joseph (Jill) of Minneapolis. Also surviving her are several nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews, and her dog Maisy.

Calling hours will be held at Haughey Funeral Home, Inc., 216 E. First St. in Corning, on Friday, February 28th from 5pm-7pm. A Celebration of life service will be held there on Saturday, February 29th at 11:00 A.M. Burial will be held in St. Mary our Mother Cemetery in Horseheads, NY.

In lieu of flowers, Odette requested that donations be made to Aurora House, 2495 S. Union St., Spencerport, N.Y. 14559, or the Breast Cancer Coalition of Rochester, 1048 University Avenue, Rochester, N.Y. 14607.

Odette's family entrusted her care to Haughey Funeral Home, Inc.

Published in The Corning Leader on Feb. 23, 2020


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02/23/20 10:35 AM #1    

Davida DeBLASIO (Telehany)

My thoughts and prayers go out to Tookie's family.  May she rest in peace.  Davida

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