Former Miami University, MAC wrestling champion, Richard Brunemann, dies at 90


Photo provided by the Brunemann family

Richard “Bruno” Brunemann during his days as a wrestler at Miami University.

By Lucy Greaney

Heavyweight wrestling champion Richard “Bruno” Brunemann may have been known for pinning his opponents in seconds, but when asking about Bruno, you would learn that violence and aggression were the opposite of how he lived his life.

Brunemann, 90, passed away peacefully on April 24, in his Oxford home.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, no public funeral celebration was held.

Brunemann was born April 9, 1931, in Mount Healthy, Ohio. Growing up, he admired his father, who started his own construction company, RB Brunemann and Sons, but found himself joining the army after high school. After his stint as a boxer in the U.S. Army, he returned to Ohio to attend Miami University.

As a member of the class of 1957, Brunemann was known for his world-class wrestling skills. As a 220 pound heavyweight wrestler, Brunemann was often much smaller than his opponents. According to fellow alumna and brother-in-law Jack Orcutt, students on campus knew that if you expected to see Bruno’s matches, you had to get there early, because they only lasted a matter of seconds. His MAC Championship titles in the 1950s earned Brunemann a place in the Miami RedHawks Hall of Fame.

Outside of the wrestling ring, Brunemann was known for his big heart. During his time at Miami, he met his wife, Karol D. Brunemann, who he referred to as “Mom,” said Orcutt. Aside from his Miami Merger marriage, he gave his heart to others through his hobbies and positive attitude.

Richard “Bruno” Brunemann, 90, died April 24, at his Oxford home. Photo provided by the Brunemann family

Horseback riding and fishing were Brunemann’s favorite pastimes, and he loved doing both with family, friends and especially his grandchildren. He lived part-time in Naples, Florida, which gave him an opportunity to fish with friends Frank Redden and Dick Spellmeyer, Orcutt said.

His fishing adventures were met with challenges. On a fishing trip in Florida, Brunemann and his friends got a rope from a crab trap wrapped around the prop in shark-infested water. This ended with his son-in-law, Brian, swimming underneath the boat and cutting the trap with a knife. When Brian could not catch his breath, they pulled him back onto the boat using a gaff hook around his belt loops. 

Brunemann also had a famous race horse named “Dude Quick.” Attending races was a family affair even for the youngest family members. Upon returning from a horse show once when his children were young, Brunemann realized that he had left his 5-year-old daughter, Jodi, at the race. He quickly rushed back to pick her up and told his wife that he was just getting gas, but it was only a matter of time before Jodi told her mother what happened.

He and Dude won many blue ribbons over the years, and Brunemann rode competitively into his 60’s, when his wife cautiously forced him to stop and spend his time fishing.

When asked how he was doing, Brunemann would reply, “I’m fresh from the backwoods, half horse, half alligator, a little touched with a snapping turtle; can wade the Mississippi, leap the Ohio, ride upon a streak of lighting and slip without a scratch down a honey locust tree.” Brunemann recited this Davy Crockett quote almost daily, according to his family.

Brunemann treated all people with respect, dignity and generosity. He would give people a place to stay, give people a job, or help them financially when he saw the need. One day when he was driving his daughter, Jenny, to work, he pulled over to invite a hitchhiker into the car. Brunemann believed that this was the best way to teach his children how to be kind.

Brunemann’s big heart can be attributed to his strong relationship with his faith, according to the family. His family vows to carry on his legacy of showing love for others and celebrate his life.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years Karol D Brunemann; son Jack Brunemann; daughters Jennifer Lyon and Jodi Campbell; and seven grandchildren.

The family requests memorials be made to one of the following: National Alliance on Mental Health or Clovernook Center for The Blind.