Thomas J. Brunner
1941 - 2021
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Thomas J. Brunner

March 7, 1941 - Feb. 24, 2021


Thomas J. Brunner died on February 24 at age 79. Born in Chicago on March 7, 1941, he was the son of Margaret and Thomas Brunner.

A 1959 graduate of Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, Indiana, Tom attended the University of Notre Dame where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1963 and a Juris Doctorate in 1966.

He married Janice Glocheski on June 3, 1966 at Sacred Heart Church on the campus of Notre Dame. They had two daughters, Claire Brunner (Bradley Havertape) of Livingston, Montana and Jennifer Brunner (Michael Roe) of Columbus, OH.

After law school, Tom taught Political Science at St. Francis College in Loretto, Pennsylvania. In 1968 he and his family moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked as a lawyer for the National Labor Relations Board in its regional advice section, the purpose of which was to advise the Board's general counsel on developing labor law issues.

In 1969 he began work as a Legislative Aide in the office of United States R. Vance Hartke (D) Indiana. Senator Hartke was a leading opponent of the war in Vietnam and was among the first Senators to break with president Lydon Johnson over that issue. In 1971 Tom became Administrative Assistant to Congressman William Hathaway (D) Maine who subsequently unseated Republican Senator Margaret Chase Smith in the 1972 election.

Tom and his family returned to South Bend in 1972 where he was employed by Associates, Inc. in its legislative affairs department. He later worked as a part time deputy St. Joseph County prosecutor and began a private law practice. Since 1972 Tom and his family have been parishioners of St. Joseph's Catholic Church.

In 1978 he was appointed South Bend City attorney by its newly elected mayor, Peter J. Nemeth, a position he held for four years.

Tom was a founding member of the law firm, Parker, Brunner and Hamilton. Its successor, Parker and Jaicomo, was acquired by the Indianapolis-based firm of Baker & Daniels in 1990. He remained a partner at Baker & Daniels until its merger. He was then Of Counsel with its merger successor, Faeger Baker Daniels, until his retirement in 2016. As a lawyer he was known as a skilled advocate who was unafraid to challenge powerful opponents.

In 1999 Tom was appointed to serve a five-year term as a member of the Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission. The primary purpose of the Commission is to recommend discipline for those lawyers accused of violating the rules of professional conduct that govern their actions as lawyers.

Long active in Democratic politics, Tom managed the successful mayoral campaign of Peter J. Nemeth, and the first mayoral election of Joe Kernan. In 1984 he was a delegate on behalf of Gary Hart to the Nation Democratic Convention in San Francisco.

In 2005, he received the highest distinction awarded by the State of Indiana, at the time, when he was named a Sagamore of Wabash.

Tom was long involved in civic activities. He served on numerous not-for-profit boards and acted as a mentor in the South Bend School Corporation. Most recently he acted as a pro-bono lawyer on behalf of prisoners seeking commutation of their federal prison sentences.

He is survived by Jann, his wife and companion of 55 years, who “gave full, loving meaning to my life,” and by his daughters, Claire and Jennifer, who “have always filled me with pride and immense joy.”

Tom loved fly-fishing, jazz, the wilderness, telling a good story, good friends, good food, and most of all, family.

In this time of COVID-19, a Mass in Tom's memory will be set for a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations in Tom's memory be made to the University of Notre Dame Law School, 1100 Eck Hall of Law, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 or to Saint Joseph High School, 453 North Notre Dame Avenue, South Bend, Indiana 46617.

Kaniewski Funeral Home, South Bend, IN is handling arrangements. To send online condolences, please visit

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in South Bend Tribune on Feb. 28, 2021.
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