Kathleen Mae Donahue Bruyere Capt., USN (Ret.)
1944 - 2020
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Kathleen Mae Donahue Bruyere, Capt., USN (Ret.)
February 5, 1944 - September 3, 2020
Chula Vista
Captain Kathleen Mae Donahue Bruyere, USN (Ret.), 76, of Chula Vista died from complications of cancer Thursday, Sept. 3 at Paradise Valley Hospital in San Diego. As a Naval Officer, Captain Bruyere was a lifelong trailblazer who won the right for women to serve aboard ships and receive equal opportunities for training and promotion in the Navy. After retirement, she selflessly continued to step up and serve veterans and the community through her volunteer work at the Miramar National Cemetery, the George G. Glenner's Alzheimer's Center, and numerous board positions at the Parkinson's Association of San Diego, and the local chapter of the Military Officer's Association of America Captain. Bruyere was born to LTC Joseph Donahue, United States Army and Lucille Alessandroni Donahue of Philadelphia, PA. She was inspired by volunteering and military service at an early age. After graduation from Chestnut Hill College in 1966, she enlisted in the Navy and attended Officer Candidate School. In 1968, she married Kellie Byerly who was also a Navy officer, amicably they later divorced. While assigned to Navy Recruiting District New York, she met Naval officer Captain Thomas Bruyere and they were married in 1988. In January 1976, Time magazine changed an annual tradition. Instead of selecting a "Person of the Year" for its cover, it featured 12, "Women of the Year." The women chosen included Billie Jean King, Carla Hills, Betty Ford and Kathy Bruyere, a 31-year-old Navy Lieutenant Commander. At the time, Captain Bruyere, who was then Kathleen Byerly, was the first woman to be Flag Executive Officer and Aide de Camp to a Navy Admiral. As head of Rear Admiral Allen Hill's staff, she was the liaison between his headquarters and nine Pacific training commands. In the Time article, unpopular amongst Navy leadership, when interviewed she predicted, "there will be a seagoing woman Admiral in the U.S. Navy in the not too distant future." Though she herself would never become an Admiral, Captain Bruyere would spend much of her career paving the way for other women to do so. In 1977, she and five other Navy women filed a class-action suit against the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy because the law prohibited women to serve on combatant ships and aircraft. They argued that their chance for promotions and opportunities were limited because of the discriminatory law and unfair practice. In a recent interview published in March for San Diego Veterans Magazine and Homeland Magazine, Captain Bruyere said one of her fellow plaintiffs, a pilot, was told, "you can deliver supplies to the ship, just don't land on the ship." The following year a federal judge declared the policy unconstitutional to prohibit Navy women from serving aboard combatant ships at sea and on aircraft. Victory came too late for Captain Bruyere to consider life aboard a ship. She stayed with personnel and recruiting specialties at Navy installations around the country. In 1983, after being appointed head of Navy Personnel Support Activity in Philadelphia, she told The Philadelphia Inquirer she planned to bring the Navy's "personnel management system into the computer age."In 1987, as Special Assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations for women's policy, Captain Bruyere helped conduct an examination of the status of Navy women which looked at career opportunities as well as complaints of sexism. The study opened up 9,000 sea-duty and command jobs for women on 24 combatant ships. In 1991, Captain Bruyere was selected and assigned as Commanding Officer for the Navy Recruit Training Command at Orlando, Florida. At the time, it was the Navy's only boot camp that included women. She told the Orlando Sentinel that she viewed her command as a potential lab for creating coeducational training and study programs to teach teamwork and mutual respect in the hope of reducing abuse and assault incidents. She retired from the Navy in 1994 after 28 years of exemplary selfless service. After retirement she and husband Tom made Baltimore and eventually San Diego home. They both enjoyed volunteering, entertaining, and visiting friends and family. Captain Bruyere is survived by brothers Joseph, Paul, Timothy and Matthew Donahue, a sister Lucia Donahue O'Dwyer, stepsons Brett, Trent and TJ Bruyere, and ten grandchildren. A funeral mass will be held at her parish Santa Rosa de Lima in Chula Vista and be announced in the near future. At a later date, once COVID-19 gathering restrictions are lifted, a burial with military honors will be at Miramar National Cemetery, San Diego. In lieu of flowers please send donations to The Parkinson's Association of San Diego, www.parkinsonsassociation.org.



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Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Sep. 13, 2020.
Memories & Condolences
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19 entries
September 21, 2020
Kathy lived a life of substance and determination for her causes and beliefs. We were young women together at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA, in an era of dramatic changes. May all who held her dear find peace and comfort in wonderful memories and shared experiences. May Kathy Rest In Peace!

Lorraine A. Revello
Lorraine A. Revello
Classmate
September 21, 2020
I just watched a video tribute to Kathy. My eyes became misty. I remember Kathy in high school bustling about taking care of business. She was always buoyant, confident, and kind. When I was a cadet at West Point I invited her to the Army-Navy Game at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia. She was attending Chestnut Hill College. After the game, we visited her relatives who lived nearby. I next saw her many years later at a high school class reunion that was held in San Diego. She was still vivacious and happy, which is how I'll always remember her. Our lives have been diminished. Her legacy is assured. Her life was significant and had substance.
Trey Sayes
Friend
September 21, 2020
My heart aches for her family. Kathy's life had substance and was significant. She was selfless and she sacrificed to advance and protect the rights of women who serve in the armed forces. That is her legacy.
Trey Sayes
Friend
September 21, 2020
I worked along side Kathy, Capt. Bruyere, on the expansion of roles for women in the military, and she was an important touchstone for Navy expertise, military women insights and fierce pursuit of making the Navy stronger by breaking the glass ceiling for women. What a loss to our country and the Navy community. May the love of friends and family reflect in the wonderful life that she led and the difference that she made in this world. Rest in Peace.
Meredith Neizer
Friend
September 16, 2020
I had the pleasure of working with Kathy at the Parkinson's Association of San Diego. Kathy was smart, passionate, inspirational and funny. He dedication to the local Parkinson's community was remarkable. Through her contributions, she touched so many lives. My sincere condolences to Kathy's family.
Diane Ailor
Coworker
September 15, 2020
15 September 2020
Kathy and I were friends in high school in Stuttgart, Germany and continued our friendship through the years as she served in the Navy and I in the Army. She cared deeply about family and friends and always seemed to know what was needed in a given situation. We were both on AD during the time when women were charting new paths in their services and we shared the usual stories about those challenges. Years ago as I was approaching 40 and was recently divorced and the mother of three, here came Kathy and Tom to take me to dinner on my birthday. It meant the world to me. She stuck close when I ran the gauntlet with cancer not once but twice and came to my retirement. She was solid. She knew what mattered to you and simply did what was needed. We certainly didn’t speak often, but I always knew that Kathy would be there, wherever that was, whenever a friend was needed. I miss her already.
Jean Phillips Truscott
Friend
September 15, 2020
Kathy was a light and inspiration to many, including me. We got to know each other as wives in the San Diego Class of '56 retirees. But Kathy had so much more to contribute, and I looked to her for guidance when both our husbands were dying. Looking more deeply, I discovered her amazingly strong spirit and devotion to values of inclusion and parity. She gave much. Thank you, Kathy, and those who believed in what she stood for. We all need to incorporate a lot of Kathy into our beliefs and actions.
Dolores Hansen Nelson
Friend
September 15, 2020
I served with Kathy on the Military Officer Association of America Board and she was a wonderful person and patriot. Strong without ever being overbearing, confident without a hint of arrogance, and always the epitome of kindness to everyone. God bless you and your great
family.
Scott Leftwich
Friend
September 15, 2020
So sad to hear of Kathy's passing. She served as a fierce advocate for people living with Parkinson's disease and their caregivers. She was always willing to share her story in an effort to help others. She will be missed.
Adriana Gonzalez
Friend
September 15, 2020
Tom and Kathy were sorely missed by our USNA Class of 1956 football tailgating group after they moved to Calif. It was such a pleasure to be with them both. My thoughts are with Kathy’s family.
Janet Lewin (widow of RADM Ted Lewin))
Janet Lewin
Friend
September 14, 2020
Kathy Bruyere was a good friend and tireless helper to the military families in the San Diego area during our many years co-located there. She was particularly helpful acting as a liaison with Miramar National Cemetary for our deceased USNA 1956 classmates.
Jay Ransom
Friend
September 14, 2020
Kathy was a very special woman — spirited and confident. We communicated several times after she was diagnosed with cancer in multiple places. She frequently texted me on Mother’s Day, though I was her teacher, not her Mother. I dearly loved Kathy and considered her a special friend. God bless, Kathy!
Shirley Pantini
Teacher
September 14, 2020
Kathy was my mentor in the Parkinson’s field and an inspiration to all who knew her. She lead the support group at the Glenner Center I attended helping all of us through this journey. I will never forget Kathy and I am honored to have known her.
Gloria Lynch
Friend
September 14, 2020
Kathy was such a great supporter of the Glenner centers and a friend to all in support group. No matter how long you’ve been away from group, she always made sure to touch base with you. She loved her family dearly and always loved sharing updates on them when she could. There will never be another person like Kathy. Her love and light will be greatly missed. May she Rest In Peace....
Bernicemina Molina
Friend
September 14, 2020
As a retired U.S. Navy veteran myself, I got to know Kathy through our mutual volunteer work at Miramar National Cemetery in support of the national non-profit Wreaths Across America. She was a very outgoing, deeply dedicated and passionate volunteer whose tireless efforts directly supported the continuous growth of the most important national cemetery in San Diego for our military veterans who will be buried there in the future. With this said, until I read this obituary, I didn't fully understand the much broader impact that Kathy had on others throughout her life, within the communities she lived in and with organizations like the Parkinson's Association of San Diego and the U.S. Navy. She will be greatly missed, but always remembered by me when I step into the reception area at Miramar National Cemetery where Kathy often greeted me with a big smile and a warm embrace. Fair winds and following seas Captain Bruyere. I salute you!
Mark Bauckman
Friend
September 14, 2020
First of all, I had no idea of Kathy's military background but now I can see it shining through her personality, confidence, and energy from all of the times that I saw her at Glenner Support Meetings and Dementia Training events. Kathy was a shining light on family caregivers, supporting and teaching, while sharing her knowledge and experience. She will be very much missed. RIP Kathy.
Sydney Kennedy, CSA,
September 13, 2020
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow. I so enjoyed working with Kathy for several years on the Board of Parkinson’s Association of San Diego. She will be greatly missed.
Paul and Penelope Johnson
Friend
September 13, 2020
Kathy was a beloved friend who I will miss terribly. I knew her through Jazzercise, and later through movies and dinners with a group of friends. She was such a giving , thoughtful, and insightful person. God bless.
Elizabeth Madrazo
Friend
September 13, 2020
My sincerest condolences. Kathy has been such a wonderful, supportive friend to my mother in very difficult times. Her energy and optimism were always inspirational. She will be missed.
Jacquie Sheehan Mallard
Friend
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