Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Remembering Brucie

A good friend and a role model as a teacher and leader:

Bernice Brucie Ball, the Miami-Dade school district’s special-education administrator known universally by her middle name, wanted colleagues to embrace her guiding principle, so she put it on buttons: a red circle with a diagonal line through the word ”whining.”

She lived by that slogan, and on June 26, died by it, at her Cooper City home in hospice care.

She was 57 and had been fighting lymphoma for seven years, yet even her last online journal entry reads more like a motivational speech than the thoughts of a terminal-cancer patient.

In that May 20 posting, Ball managed to find a silver lining in the darkest of clouds. Tests at Houston’s M.D. Anderson Cancer Center determined that her tumors had spread, despite a stem-cell infusion from one of her brothers.

”They are mighty tumors and we’re not going to let that chemo deter them,” she wrote. ”The great news is that I will be able to fly home today to be with my family, that includes our dog, Coal, who takes terrific care of me and also keeps me entertained.”

As sick as she was, ”she’d be laughing and joking,” said her husband, Larry Ball, a Miami Dolphins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker in the 1970s, now a county high school counselor. ”She approached everything with courage and dignity. She didn’t want people to feel bad for her.”

There are thousands of kids in the schools who will never know her name, but their lives have been enriched by hers. Thank you, Brucie.