Mary Ellen worked in the Logan County Courthouse for 34 1/2
years, with her last 16 years as an elected official, county
County board finance chairman Chuck Ruben spoke often of working
with Mary Ellen, and it was always with emphasis on his utmost
respect for her and the work that she did.
When she retired in November 2010, then board vice chairman David
Hepler illustrated her dedication: "We've had many conversations at
7 in the morning. I go by (the courthouse) and I see this person's
already at work, and many a time it's been on a weekend."
Brunsí humble acceptance of the county award at her retirement
was typical of her gracious manner, turning the attention toward
praise of others: "It has been my pleasure and honor. I've
appreciated all the help I've had. I couldn't have done it without
my staff and without too many people to name them all. So, thank you
Many who work for the county cross paths with the treasurer, and
over her 16 years in that role, Mary Ellen gained the respect of
everyone she encountered, especially those who worked for the
As board administrative assistant for many of those years, JoAnne
Marlin was one of those working close to, and sometimes closely with
Mary Ellen. Marlin agreed that Bruns was a good person to have
known, and not just for her work: "Oh yes, so hard to put into words
how much she meant to me and many others.
"We worked together on many issues through the years pertaining
to county business. She was a sincere and devoted person, concerned
about the good of the county and everything else she was involved
"Even though we had offices across the hall from each other, our
door was always open to whatever came up to discuss in person
pertaining to county business."
Fondly, Marlin remembers that Bruns always helped decorate the
big Christmas tree in the rotunda and even brought lunch she made at
home for everyone.
"She was a beautiful and great lady in every sense of the word,
and a friend to all. This community has lost someone very special."
Current Logan County Treasurer Vicki Dugan worked under Bruns and
took over the job from Mary Ellen. "As treasurer she was very
dedicated," Dugan said, "and great to work for."
Dugan said the same as most anyone who ever met Bruns, even if
only one time: "She was a classy lady. Warm, friendly, easy to talk
Mary Ellen's daughter, Sue Fitzpatrick, asked Logan County Clerk Sally Litterly to say a few words at the funeral.
Litterly said she was honored and privileged to do so. She
summarized Mary Ellen's professional life and the personal integrity
and fortitude with which she lived.
Mary Ellen Bruns has been my
co-worker, mentor, confidant, and friend. We have shared much as
fellow elected officials over the last 20 years. From new laws and
systems, budgets and levies, and county finances. We were also
friends that shared about our families and daily life.
[to top of second column]
Mary Ellen ran for office in 1993
taking over from her predecessor the Hon. Herman Dammerman. Mary
knew the office well and was overwhelming elected in the 1994
Primary as the Republican nominee and then as the County Treasurer
in November. As the newly elected Logan County Treasurer in 1994,
she became active in the Illinois Association of County Treasurerís
Association. Since day one in office, she mentored and served fellow
County Treasurers of the other 101 counties in Illinois. She served
as a member of its Legislative Committee and Zone Executive
Committee. She taught and consulted Treasurers throughout Illinois
and mentored many over her 16 years as Logan County Treasurer.
Mary Ellen knew a thing or two about
politics. She was active in many local, state and national campaigns
in Logan County acting as their Chairperson. She was also active in
Zonta, League of Women Voters, Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital,
and many other volunteer organizations throughout Illinois. She
operated with a keen eye on the political world that surrounds our
county and beyond, and treated all our citizens equally without
regard to party affiliation or status in the community. Mary Ellen
was a true public servant. She represented the words "servant
leader" in their truest sense.
Several years ago she broke her leg
slipping on ice and it required a lengthy recovery period entailing
the use of a "scooter" to get around. It was tax season and there
was no way the Logan County Treasurer was not coming into the
building to perform the largest function of her office, so she
conned her daughter (Sue) into dropping her off at the Courthouse
and climbed up the stone stairs one by one on her rear end until she
and the "scooter" reached the door. When in the office she scooted
around going about her business without a complaint. This was not
the only health battle Mary Ellen fought in office. She was a breast
cancer survivor, lost her dear daughter, then her husband all while
still in office. With all her trials, she marched on as the strong,
outstanding lady she was. She was always impeccably dressed, spoke
like a statesman, and was one of the most determined people I have
It is nearing tax time again, and I
will truly miss my annual discussions about tax extension and taxing
districts I shared with her. Yesterday the present Treasurer, Vicki
Dugan told me that she can feel Maryís spirit in her office, and it
pleased her. I told Vicki I knew exactly what she meant. As I walked
out of the building late one evening this week, I paused by Mary
Ellenís old office door, the same spot where she would march in at
around 6:00 a.m. each day and walk out around 5:00 p.m. I felt her
presence too. She is at peace now and celebrating with her daughter
and husband in the Kingdom. She will always be remembered in the
Courthouse as a part of our family.