Obituary: Audrey Brourman / Tireless fundraiser for history center, others
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Audrey Brourman raised a quarter of a billion dollars for nonprofits in the 22 years she ran a Pittsburgh-based consulting business.
The city's nonprofit sector lost a leader Thursday when the woman behind the scenes of the development of the state's largest history museum, the Heinz History Center, and dozens of other organizations died from lung cancer. Ms. Brourman was 75.
"She had a vision for the center that it would be a place where families could come and understand their past to build a better future," said Andrew Masich, president and CEO of the history center. "She achieved more in her lifetime than most people can ever imagine. Her legacy is really around us in strong cultural institutions and people who are better prepared to take on the future."
Like many who find great success, Ms. Brourman truly enjoyed her work, most of which focused on nonprofit fundraising and finances with capital campaigns, events and strategic planning.
Colleagues say 50-hour weeks were typical, and it was never unusual to receive a voicemail message or e-mail from her at 3 a.m.
"She didn't do it because she was on call or because the clients needed her," said Rob DeOrio, her successor at A.L. Brourman and Associates. "She did it because she loved it."
But nonprofits were not her first or only love.
She realized a passion for music in piano lessons as a 9-year-old growing up in Los Angeles. A year into college at University of California Los Angeles, she received a scholarship to the Aspen Music Institute, an internationally recognized school, and moved to Colorado with the dream of becoming a concert pianist.
At 19, she married Jacques Brourman, a Pittsburgh native and violinist. She put her musical aspirations on hold to embark on her greatest passion of all--raising a family--and followed his career path as a music conductor to Boise and then Charlotte, N.C.
Along the way she honed her skills in fundraising and event planning by hosting galas, benefits and concerts.
In 1961 the couple founded the Sun Valley International Music Festival in Sun Valley, Idaho, where students would come from around the world to practice music.
After moving to Pittsburgh in 1977, they founded the Bedford Springs Music Festival and she began working in development, public relations and event planning for the Pittsburgh Opera, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts and local hospitals.
"She earned pretty quickly a reputation for being masterful and artful," said her son, Paul Brourman of Chicago. "She became respected and regarded for putting on events with class, with caliber, but an aspect of subtly."
In 1990, she started her own firm and she began steering the history center from a vision to a reality.
She created the History Maker Award and planned the annual gala the last 21 years.
"She had impeccable taste," said Mr. Masich, who worked closely with Ms. Brourman in her capacity as fundraising counsel for the museum. "She was pitch perfect in her music, but if there is a similar idea for seeing things that are perfect, to make them magical at an event, she had that ability too."
Her selfless personality shone in all aspects of her life.
When she broke her femur on the way to the airport this year to celebrate a 24-year-old family tradition of fly fishing in Big Sky, Mont., she bypassed the hospital because she wanted to spend time with her grandchildren. The pain caught up with her when she reached Montana and she was hospitalized for the duration of the trip.
"She comes off as gentle, with a quiet grace and elegance about her, but when she is on a mission for one of her goals, there is no way she's going to not reach them," her son said.
Her family says the injury aided her health decline and she moved into her son's home in Chicago, where she could spend her limited time left with family before she died from lung cancer, despite never smoking.
"She mentored you without realizing you were being mentored," Mr. DeOrio said. "Her personalty and her belief in what nonprofits brought to the community just rubbed off on everything and everyone."
In addition to her son and ex-husband, Ms. Brourman is survived by a sister, Marlene Brodsky of Los Angeles; two other sons, Ronn Brourman of Pittsburgh and Jeff Brourman of Boise, Idaho; and four grandchildren.
A funeral service will be held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, 5509 Centre Ave., Shadyside, at 1 p.m. today. A visitation will be held one hour prior to services. Interment at Homewood Cemetery will follow the service.
Per Audrey, the family requests all donations sent to: the Canary Foundation for Cancer Research, 1501 S. California Ave., Suite 2500, Palo Alto, CA 94304 or the Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., Pittsburgh 15222 or the Sierra Club Moshannon Group, P.O. Box 513, State College, PA 16804
First Published December 17, 2012 12:22 am