ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW/AND FINAL REVIEW
FOR: Professor C. Scaros
BY: Sandra Harper
December 24, 2012
Eugene Brundige (Gene), was born July 19th 1944 in Athens County Ohio. He has been my Pastor for the last 13 years during which time we have become very close. He has been my mentor, personal counselor, spiritual councilor and friend for many years. My girls adore this man and respect just about anything he says and does. I chose to set with him because I have been fascinated with watching how he operates in two worlds that do not seem on the surface to be compatible in any way. He is completely at home in his duties as a pastor such as preaching, teaching Sunday School, visiting, counseling and mentoring, as well as being equally comfortable operating in the political world. I have witnessed and experienced time after time where his political connections have helped parishioners’ with information they may have needed. He is very well known in the community as a professional mediator and Pastor, and he knows people. Gene grew up near Athens Ohio, (which is currently Ohio’s 6th congressional district) (govtrack.us, 2012), a very small town at the time. The population from 1940 to 1950 was a modest, 40’ – 7,696 and 50’ 11,660 (census, 1995). He went to a very small school (The Plains) and graduated from Ohio University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree. He did his seminary work at Garrett Seminary in Evanston, Illinois and the Methodist Theological School in Delaware, Ohio. Gene says that because he was raised in the country and went to school in a very small village he was pretty much sheltered. He knew all his teachers and classmates and thought the world was a very safe place. He said that he remembers thinking that The Plains had very little crime or evil. Gene’s first awakening to this reality was after he started Ohio University. It was during the time that John F. Kennedy was assassinated. He recalls that “all at once I realized that things in the rest of the world were not as safe and quiet as they were in Southeast Ohio.” (E. Burndig, personal communications, December 13, 2012). Around the same time he had a personal incident that really shaped his future. One of his best friends in college was African American. He was going to get a haircut at the same barber shop that he had always gone to. Gene asked his friend to go along. When they got to the door the same barber that he had known since he was a small child met them at the door and said “We don’t cut ‘niggers’ hair here”. Gene was furious. He organized a group of students and they picketed the barbershop until the owner was forced to apologize to his friend. Gene said, “That single act became a lift of advocacy and political action for me.” (E. Burndige). In addition to these events he was also greatly influenced by the civil rights abuse he saw all around him. Racial injustice was very prevalent. Gene even went as far as to march in a civil rights protest and became very politically involved. Likewise women were discriminated against. He remembers particularly fighting hard within the United Methodist Church for fuller inclusion of women. Gene was delighted to add that, “today 2/3 of the people going into ministry are women and we have some fine women bishops.” (E,Brundige). While serving a small church in Athens County Gene performed the first bi-racial marriage. He recalls that it was picketed but the couple was happily married. He continues to fight for civil rights today by advocating for full rights for LGBT persons. Gene said that he considers this the next great civil rights battle. As we sat drinking our coffee, I asked Gene who was the highest ranking government official that he had met. With a grin, and somehow what seemed to be a bit of pride on his face he said “Jimmy Carter, before he was president.” (E., Brundige). He continued to tell me that because he was becoming politically active he was attracted to...
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