Authorities were still working to determine the cause of death of Brainerd City Council President Bonnie Cumberland, who was found dead in her home Monday night.

City officials became concerned when Cumberland, a former mayor, a retired high school teacher and a longtime community activist, failed to appear at a regularly scheduled City Council meeting Monday night. Police went to her home and found her body inside. She appeared to have died from natural causes and no foul play was suspected, Mayor James Wallin said Tuesday.

Cumberland, 67, had been a pillar of community service, Wallin said.

“What a shock for all of us,” he said. “She really gave her heart and soul to the city in a lot of different ways.”
Cumberland was named Brainerd’s person of the year in 2001.

“She devoted her life, basically, to the city and was just a joy to be around,” said Wallin, who worked with her closely in various city roles for decades. “She was very pleasant, knowledgeable. I never heard an unkind word out of her mouth.”

Cumberland underwent treatment for breast cancer while she was serving as mayor in the 1990s, Wallin said, but she never missed meetings and never complained. “She was a gem,” he said, and the community is feeling her loss.

Her sudden death closely followed that of a longtime Brainerd police officer who died after having heart surgery. The officer’s funeral was held last week.

The Ramsey County medical examiners office is conducting an autopsy on Cumberland.