BRASCH, James - Peacefully, with family by his side, on February 9th, 2019 in his 90th year.
Predeceased by only 17 days by Delores (nee Merz), his beloved wife of over 66 years.
Daughters Jennifer (Kirt Cushnie) and Katherine (Jim Silburn) know he instilled in them his passion for knowledge and his love of learning. His grandchildren Jimmy, Beth, Sarah, Andrew and Rachel will regrettably never hear him lecture on the value of a university education, the current state of politics or the importance of avoiding the semicolon ;)
Born in Tavistock, Ontario, Jim graduated from the State University of New York in Buffalo and married Delores in 1952. He completed his PhD in English at the University of Wisconsin in 1959.
Mom and dad settled in Burlington in 1966 when he accepted a teaching appointment at McMaster University in the Department of English as an Associate Professor. During his 30-year career at McMaster, dad taught thousands of students in his survey courses on American literature, lecturing about Moby-Dick, The Grapes of Wrath, The Sun Also Rises, The Scarlet Letter, and more. His well-loved graduate seminar courses on Faulkner and Hemingway challenged students to lively and inspired debates. His office door was always open to students needing to chat about an essay or personal issue. In 1981 dad co-authored the definitive catalogue of Ernest Hemingway’s library at the Finca Vigía in Havana, Cuba.
Dad was a passionate orchid grower and had a greenhouse with 100’s of plants that he always enjoyed showing to visitors. Family vacations often involved visiting orchid houses and conservation areas, or collecting plants endangered by urban sprawl. Dad was the founding president of the Orchid Society of the Royal Botanical Gardens in 1975 and active in the Society as a guest speaker, auctioneer, course teacher and more until the last few years.
Mom and Dad raised their girls to appreciate music and all the arts, fine food and family meals in a house filled with books and music. They travelled extensively, often in conjunction with a Hemingway conference or an International Orchid Congress. Particularly adventurous travels included Nigeria and Morocco in 1971 and a teaching exchange to Beijing, China in 1987.
In the last few years, Dad was there for Mom every day as she slowly faded away, showing a profound patience, compassion and love for her. Without his best friend and life-long companion, he lost his will to fight his own ailments. We like to think they are together again.