Berg-Bruestle Joan Elizabeth Berg-Bruestle Joan was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 4, 1953. Joan attended private Catholic schools for grades one through twelve. She ultimately graduated from the gender exclusive high school, St. Margaret's Academy, in 1971. Joan graduated as a member of the National Honor Society. Her favorite high school activity was serving as one of the copywriters on the school's yearbook staff. Her greatest honor was being selected to be one of the student representatives on the school's curriculum planning committee for the Theology-Philosophy Department. Although Joan's college years began at the University of Minnesota, in 1976 she graduated from the College of St. Catherine - a small private women's college in St. Paul, Minnesota. At that time, Joan earned her B.A. Degree in microbiology. However, being frustrated with the job market, Joan began to reassess her career goals. After much soul searching and some informal career counseling, she chose to attend nursing school. In 1982 Joan graduated with honors, and a member of Phi Theta Kappa, from the School of Nursing at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. While living in St. Paul, Minnesota, Joan's entire nursing career was spent working at St. Paul-Ramsey Medical Center (aka Regions Hospital), a Level One Trauma Center. It is the county hospital and a teaching hospital affiliated with the University of Minnesota Medical School. Her first three years were spent working on a general surgery unit. This particular area also served as a step-down unit for the Surgery-Trauma Intensive Care Unit. Assignment to the area included a regular rotation through the hospital's correctional unit where Joan worked with county, state and federal prisoners. After those first three years Joan decided to make a lateral transfer to a different unit. The next twelve plus years were spent working as a permanent member of the hospital's Float Staff. It was then that she worked as an intensive care nurse and developed the skills and knowledge to be able to work in any of Ramsey's five intensive care units - Medical ICU, Surgery-Trauma ICU, Neonatal ICU, Coronary Care Unit, and the Burn Unit. As Joan's years at Ramsey went on, she began to develop an interest in health care ethics. In 1988, she joined the hospital's Bioethics Committee. Her interest became so keen that she returned to school in 1990. In 1993 she earned a second major from the College of St. Catherine in the area of Philosophy: Applied Biomedical Ethics. By 1995, Joan was named the Non-physician Co-chair of the Bioethics Committee. Her first success was in attaining a name change for the committee from the Bioethics to the Ethics Committee. The name change allowed for the development of a broader scope for the committee. Besides addressing issues of bedside care and end-of-life issues, the committee could now address the broader issues arising in health care and the delivery of health care. Joan was also involved in ethics education. She developed ethics inservices for nurses, as well as served on the planning committee for the annual ethics conference for Continuing Medical Education. Returning to 1985, Joan met Donald Bruestle in November. On June 11, 1988 Joan and Don were married. Joan never had children of her own. However, she was blessed with two wonderful stepchildren: Sarah and Benjamin. Both Sarah and Ben are intelligent and loving persons, but above all accepting of their dad's relationship and marriage to Joan. Joan has stated that the success of her relationship with Don was due in part to the respect and acceptance given to them by Sarah and Ben. Joan characterized her relationship with Sarah and Ben not as a maternal one, but rather as that of an older friend - like a coach or teacher. Joan and Don enjoyed the outdoors together. While living in Minnesota, they enjoyed the winter sport of cross-country skiing. In the warmer months they traveled and did a lot of walking and hiking. Two of their most memorable trips were to the Grand Canyon. The first time they hiked in and out of the Havasupai Reservation; and the second time they white water rafted into the canyon and hiked out. Their travels included Alaska and most states west of the Mississippi River. Joan also enjoyed swimming, cooking, and reading and writing. Those many walks and hikes allowed Joan and Don the opportunity to talk, dream, and plan their future. They decided they wanted to change their jobs and live somewhere else. They wanted to continue in their careers, yet do something different. Their love of the southwest and the Latin culture initially took them to Tucson, Arizona. Appreciation of diverse cultures attracted Joan and Don to reside in urban, inner city neighborhoods. After a brief stay in Tucson during 1998 and 1999, Joan and Don moved on to San Diego, California in February 2000. While in Tucson, Joan made the transition from hospital nursing to school nursing. It was just what she needed to rejuvenate her nursing career. Upon arriving in San Diego, Joan went to work as a School Nurse for San Diego City Schools. She was kept very busy in a middle school with a thousand seventh and eighth graders. Joan worked with a diverse population of students Ð and not just ethnically diverse. The enrollment included 20% special education students, integrated life skills students with an IQ range of 50-70, deaf and hard of hearing students, students with mild psychiatric disorders, and physically disabled and medically fragile students. It was both challenging and rewarding. Following the move to San Diego, Joan and Don quickly became involved with their Unitarian Universalist Church Community. They served on the planning committee for the Dynamic Duos Ð a couples social group. They also volunteered one Saturday per month to go to the Esperanza Project across the border in Tijuana, Baja, Mexico. They worked in the Colonia de Esperanza helping to build the local elementary school. Joan was learning tile setting, while Don was doing a variety of grounds keeping and maintenance tasks. Joan and Don were just settling into their jobs and volunteer work, as well as beginning to explore other service projects, when they received the news of Joan's cancer diagnosis. Their world and their plans changed, crumbled. Joan's illness and health care needs virtually consumed them. Fighting her cancer became all encompassing. Joan endured tremendous physical pain - her fight was courageous. Unfortunately, it was a battle she could not win. Joan lost her battle with bone cancer on February 14, 2003. Joan was preceded in death by her father, Anthony Henry Berg; brother-in-law, Robert Kieser and niece Kathryn Kieser. Survivors include husband Donald L. Bruestle of San Diego; children, Benjamin W. Bruestle (Holly) and Sarah R. Bruestle of Colorado; mother, Ora A. Berg; sister, Anne Kieser; brother Donald (Nancy) Berg, all of Minnesota; and, brother William (Orla) Berg of New Mexico. Survivors also include several nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews. Also survived by special friend Kokomo. A memorial service will be held at 4:45 p.m., Friday, February 28, 2003 at First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego; and, 3:00 p.m., Thursday, March 6, 2003 at Pax Christi Catholic Community Church of Eden Prairie, MN. All memorials may be sent to either the Carmelite Monastery, 5158 Hawley Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92116; or, First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, c/o Care Giving Committee, 4190 Front Street, San Diego, CA 92103.

Published on February 26, 2003

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