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BRENDA RUTH MACEACHERN (MESSER) June 15, 1948 - October 11, 2012 It is with great sadness we annouce the passing of Brenda Ruth MACEachern (Messer) at University Hospital, London, Ontario after a courageous year long battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Daughter of the late Jack and Eleanor (Pat) Messer of Toronto. Beloved wife of Ian MACEachern. Loving mother of Heather (Eric Tarasick), London and Sarah (Ray Nichols), California. Doting grandmother of Iris Ruth Tarasick. Sister of Judy Ambrose (Messer) and aunt of John Ambrose and Katherine Stasyna of Toronto. Brenda graduated from the University of Toronto in 1970 with a Bachelors of Arts and went on to complete her Masters in Library Science at the University of Western Ontario (1987). In more than four decades as the curator of the Visual Resources Library in the Visual Arts Department at the University of Western Ontario, Brenda received recognition for her work within the department and with the staff association. In 2007 she was the recipient of the Western Award of Excellence. She was also acknowledged internationally as a leader in her field through the Visual Resources Association. Brenda was a family historian, a photographer, a flea market enthusiast and a teapot collector. With her husband Ian, she enjoyed cycling trips in the UK and car trips across North America. Summers in Port Elgin and Southhampton with her family were also a special part of her life. One of her proudest achievements was the publication of her book "Nicholas Vivian Kent - An Ontario Family Saga" in 2004. A lifelong supporter of the arts, Brenda was a mentor to many students and she always encouraged them to follow their dreams. She will be fondly remembered as an incredibly loving person who was forever putting others first. Her gentle spirit and thoughtful advice will be greatly missed by her family, friends and colleagues. The family asks that donations in Brenda's memory be made to Operation Eyesight. A memorial service will be held at Museum London on Thursday, November 29th.

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Published in Toronto Star on Oct. 13, 2012.
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Her Loving Family
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18 entries
May 4, 2015
Brenda Messer's name popped into my head while walking, on this dull Monday morning in MAy 2015. After searching online for her name, it is with great sadness that I read about her death. So the fog and gloom could seem appropriate - except that I am brightened by recalling the beautiful, smiling, energetic and affectionate Brenda Messer from the early 1970's.

I was introduced to Brenda by her sister Judy, and for a short while enjoyed occasional visits with her family. We parted - me to vagabond for a many years, putting many miles, adventures and people between us. But I never forgot her.

I offer my condolences to Brenda's family.
Edmund (Ed) Medley
March 4, 2013
Brenda, I always admired you and your work and I'm thankful for having known you. I wish I had been able to say goodbye while you were still here.
Maryly Snow
November 28, 2012
Although I have lived away from Western for two decades, it saddens me greatly to hear of Brenda's passing. Years and years ago I was a student at Western, and Brenda was unceasingly generous with her time and support, even though I was just another twerp in blue jeans. Later, when I taught at Western for a couple of years, graduating to suit jackets, she was no less helpful and cheerful to work with. And after I moved to BC, she still remained in occasional contact, even inviting me to publish a timeline of Canadian art. She was a real jewel--one in a million. My sincerest condolences to her family.
Robert Belton
November 12, 2012
Brenda was my 3rd cousin, who I just recently connected with via email and phone. I was on the hunt for ancestry information and Brenda so generously filled in blanks for me, since her grandfather and my grandmother were 1st cousins and good friends. Condolences to her entire family, she was taken much to soon.
Elsie Moroz
November 12, 2012
Sincere condolences to Brenda's family from her many friends who went to SLIS with Brenda.
Susanna Hubbard Krimmer
November 1, 2012
My sincerest condolences to Brenda's family and friends. In the 1990s Brenda and I worked with the PMA group at Western. Brenda was always an inspiring and uplifting person; quick to laugh, generous with her attention. The occasional times I saw her since leaving Western were always a bright spot in my day. I will miss her.
Jane MacDonald
October 30, 2012
In the early 1970s, slide libraries were still considered something of a cutting-edge resource for faculty and students in the new visual arts – fine arts – programmes, as they were known then, beginning to emerge in universities and colleges across the country. As the first slide librarian students encountered through the halls of university life at Western, Brenda had the unenviable task of guiding often, impatient people through the process of using the resources of the slide library so carefully organized by her for the department. Her task, mainly keeping us in line and educating us about what not to do, was peppered with careful notes and questions designed to direct efficient use of library resources. To this day, I remember the critical path set out – her design – of entering the library (always, with hands pristine), of proceeding to the slide drawers, of selecting, and then, working from one visual image to the next. I remember still the play of my eyes across historical texts to slide-viewer and back.

As it turned out, (until 1992) I spent many afternoons in the slide library, most often with Brenda somewhere near by – quietly working in the background or overseeing that year's new batch of students. Her voice firm, yet kind and careful outlined the route to information gathering and visual investigation. She suggested the pensive hours that undoubtedly lay ahead and promised a hint of the discoveries and surprises that come from first-hand viewing, along with considered observation. Not only did she set out procedures that continue to guide my research, she offered a well-trodden path for visual discovery and for finding new ways of making visual connections that continues to serve me well.

As the years went by, the routine of pulling slides began to include a brief chat about new projects, interests, exhibitions and publications, and then, our children. I am sorry to say that it has been some time since I last visited with Brenda. For me, her presence – the flash of quick recognition in her eyes, the trace of mirth in her smile – are woven into the texture of the visual education I received and participated in at Western.
Janice Andreae
October 28, 2012
Brenda was a wonderful colleague. She championed visual resources in Canada and generously gave her time and talents to the VRA. She was an early adopter of the MDID software and often contributed information to the users group. But most of all she had a warm smile and sunny disposition that will be greatly missed. My sincere sympathy goes to the family.
Christina Updike
October 20, 2012
I loved my Mom so much and quite honestly don't know how I'm going to live without her. She was my biggest inspiration and my biggest fan. I miss her more than words can say.
Heather MacEachern
October 17, 2012
Brenda was an inspiration to me. I constantly looked at back issues of Positive to find out how to do even the most basic tasks in the slide library (at McMaster). There are also many happy memories of the CVRC conferences and meetings.
Ed Sernie
October 17, 2012
Brenda's early leadership in the visual resources field, and her ongoing integrity and commitment were an inspiration. She will be much missed.
Jane Rhodes
October 16, 2012
Although I did not know Brenda well, I remember speaking to hear at a number of VRA conferences. She was an important member of our profession.
October 16, 2012
I am so saddened to hear about Brenda's passing. Her generosity to colleagues, enthusiasm and commitment to the field of Visual Resources was truly appreciated. She will be missed.
Louise Barak
October 15, 2012
Kind, caring, gentle and delightful. I knew her most of her life and she was always the same lovable girl.
Jim Baird
October 15, 2012
So sorry to hear of Brenda's passing. I had known her as a colleague in the Visual Resources Association. She was always a kind, generous and hard-working professional. She will be missed when we meet again in Providence next year.
Christine Hilker
October 15, 2012
Brenda was a wonderful warm person, and an excellent Visual Arts Curator.
Alec Hartill
October 15, 2012
I admired Brenda professionally and liked her immensely personally. I was fortunate to know her through the Visual Resources Association. We will miss her.
Leigh Gates
October 14, 2012
Monda Halpern
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