Brunini retires after 44 years of service to St. Dominic’s

When the Dominican Sisters of Springfield, Illinois, first began to contemplate the purchase of The Jackson Infirmary in 1945, they reached out for advice to then Monsignor Joseph Brunini of the Natchez Diocese, later named bishop of the Natchez-Jackson Diocese.  That initial conversation led to a friendship between St. Dominic’s and the Brunini family that has lasted nearly seven decades.
And now, after more than 44 years of service to the hospital, Bishop Brunini’s nephew, Edmund L. (Eddie) Brunini Jr., has retired.050115brunini
Eddie’s father (brother to Bishop Brunini) and his partner Gordon Grantham contributed their time to providing direction and legal counsel to the Dominican Sisters for many years prior to Eddie graduating law school, recalls Eddie Brunini.
“Gordon was providing his counsel as a nice thing for the Sisters and the hospital but was not really spending a lot of time with them,” said Brunini. “I had just started practicing law and didn’t have much to do with the hospital at that point. Sister Josephine was in charge and one day she stopped me and said, ‘I am going to have a real lawyer here.  If you want to be the real lawyer, fine.  If not, I will go get somebody else.’”
Sister Josephine was certainly grateful for the counsel she had received over the years, but she was ready to have a more full-time legal presence, recalls Eddie.
“Eddie was a rookie lawyer not long after I first came to St. Dominic’s,” said Sister Dorothea Sondgeroth, associate executive director of the St. Dominic Health Services Foundation. “Even in those early years of his career, he always gave us solid advice and was always available when we needed legal counsel.”
“We often said, when we had big issues, ‘What would Eddie Brunini say?’ And we often turned to him with difficult and challenging issues that confronted us,” said Claude Harbarger, president of St. Dominic Health Services. “He also had the confidence of the Dominican Sisters in Springfield. They knew they would get objective, good information, always with the best interest of St. Dominic’s and the Dominican Sisters at heart.”
“It is very unusual to find someone like Eddie who has served as an attorney for one organization for so long,” said Lester Diamond, president of St. Dominic Hospital. “He has had other areas of practice, oil and gas among them, but much of his time was spent with St. Dominic’s.  We have been fortunate to have that dedication from him.”
Sister Sondgeroth also commented on how Brunini had a talent with people and with interjecting levity to help relieve tension.
“I remember one time we were in a long meeting and Eddie just stood up, got in a golf stance and began swinging an imaginary five iron as though he wished he was on the golf links instead of in the meeting,” she said.  “It made us all laugh and came at just the right time to cue us to make a decision and adjourn.”
“He has a very likable personality,” said Harbarger.  “He is a master storyteller, and his stories were always well received.  He brought a lot of laughter with him in an upbeat way.”