CHARLOTTE (LOTTE) ELIZABETH BRUNST1920 - 2021 Charlotte Elizabeth Brunst (née Gusinde) passed away peacefully in the loving presence of her three children on April 20, 2021, in Ottawa at the Garry Armstrong long term care home where she lived for the last 7 years. Beloved wife of the late Sergey Brunst. Dear Mum to Tania, Tony (Dorinda) and Dagmara (Moulie). Loving grandmother to Philip, Clare and Anand, and great-grandmother to Sabine and Nelson. Predeceased by her three sisters (Anneliese, Ursula and Erika) and dear aunt to Inken, Eric, Anton, Christina, Christiana, Hini, John and the late Astrid, Barbara and Uschie. Charlotte (Lotte), our "sunshine", was one hundred years young and lived a rich and fulfilling life. She spoke fluent German, English, some Afrikaans and managed in French as well. She loved sports tennis (playing with her grandchildren well into her seventies), skiing, and swimming. She played the piano and so enjoyed classical music, particularly performances of the Montreal symphony orchestra and later in life at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa which she attended regularly. Theatre was another passion of hers and she enjoyed it in many wonderful settings: London, Paris, New York, Vienna. In her later years, she always looked forward to a few weeks in the sun, during winter, usually in the Caribbean. Born September 26, 1920 in Windhoek, Namibia, daughter of Elsa Gusinde (née Bettzüge) and Erich Gusinde. Charlotte was the fourth daughter, unfortunately not the longed for son, of a German farming family in South West Africa. Her mother traveled for half a day by donkey cart to the hospital in Windhoek to deliver Charlotte. Quite a change for a young woman who only a few years earlier had attended Cheltenham Ladies College in England! Her early days were spent on their wonderful Osema farm in the veldt surrounded by cattle and wild animals such as springbok, kudus and cheetahs. She established herself as the pet of the family. She grew up playing at the foot of a hill, making clay toys from river mud, counting cattle, horseback riding (she had a great love for horses), learning how to shoot and going to a Catholic boarding school which she did not like! The farm is now an historic guest inn called Gusindeberg. At the age of twenty-one she married a white Russian, Sergey Brunst, whose family on his mother's side started the F. L. Mertens fur business in St. Petersburg. After his father was shot in the revolution in 1917 when he was twelve, he escaped with his mother and his life to Leipzig, Germany in 1921. After finishing his schooling he joined the F. L. Mertens branch in Leipzig. Subsequently he started his own business with offices in London and Paris. However, with the advent of WW2 he moved to South West Africa. Sergey dazzled Charlotte not only with his looks but with his worldly experience. They married in Windhoek, had three children and lived there for 10 years where he continued in the fur business shipping karakul skins mainly to the USA and Canada. They then left Namibia for London, England, on the way stopping for five months in Zermatt, Switzerland. Sergey was passionate and expert in alpine skiing and touring! Once in London they settled for a further 10 years. In this new continent and culture, Charlotte established a firm footing, caring for her three children and making good friends. However, she needed to start all over again on a third continent, North America, when they decided to move the family to Montreal, Canada. In Montreal, apart from caring for her family, she volunteered at the Montreal General Hospital in the gift shop and at Saint George's School, teaching handicrafts, particularly copper work and pottery--back to the mud from her childhood! In summer she loved spending time at the family cottage in Rawdon. She had a caring nature, always ready to lend an ear; a love of beauty in fashion, flowers and music; and an appreciation of culture. Indeed, she was herself quite a beauty. As her niece Inken put it: "She was really a remarkable woman with her outgoing cheerfulness, charm and charisma which made her so hugely popular and loved by all. She was also such an interesting and stimulating person to talk to with her love of art, music, museums, travel and so much more". When Sergey passed away in1988 Charlotte stayed in Montreal for a further ten years before moving to Ottawa to be with her children. Her son, Tony, would tell her about world news and she was fascinated. Her daughter Tania would perform belly and Indian Kathak dances and she was fascinated and supportive. Her daughter Dagmara would tell her about India where she lived for twenty-five years and she was fascinated. She showed the same enthusiasm and appreciation to her grandchildren and later on with the many wonderful "helpers" and staff of the Garry Armstrong who attended to and assisted Charlotte in her final years. She truly was blessed to love life and enjoy it for one hundred years. Her burial service, for family members, is on May 27th at the McLaren Cemetery, Wakefield.
Published in The Globe and Mail from May 22 to May 26, 2021.