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Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016 12:22 am

Driven to make a difference

BRONWYN LLOYD EVES Oct. 10, 1969 – July 8, 2016


“Everyone remembers something different about Bronwyn,” said her husband, Bill, “and everyone is going to miss her in a different way.” But whether they remember her as an art conservator, a mother, an aficionado of live music, a volunteer, or a friend, everyone who knew her will remember Bronwyn Eves as an extraordinary woman who died too soon.

Bill met Bronwyn in 1992 at a B-52s concert at the Illinois State Fair. Seeing her from afar, Bill “thought she looked cool, like someone you’d want to talk to.” He took off his watch and then walked up to her and asked her what time it was. Six years later, they were married.

In the interim, Bronwyn earned a master’s degree in Art Conservation, a field that is extremely competitive. Bronwyn’s alma mater, the State University of New York at Buffalo, is one of only a handful of universities in the United States to offer conservation degree programs. A native of Springfield, she had graduated high school at Ursuline Academy, earned an undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois and held internships at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C., and the Art Institute of Chicago prior to being accepted to graduate school. During the course of her graduate studies, she interned at the Museum of New Mexico and the Peabody Museum at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

After earning her art conservation degree, Bronwyn worked for a time at the Field Museum in Chicago and then opened her own practice, Bronwyn Eves Conservation Studios, Inc. Bill recalled the parade of unusual objects that passed through their apartment for Bronwyn to conserve; at one point they had Carl Yastrzemski’s 1967 batting triple crown trophy sitting on their dining room table awaiting treatment.

Bronwyn loved her training and her work. Her specialty was the conservation of ethnographic artifacts, which appealed to her because of the allure of the cultures and locales that produced them. After moving to Springfield in 1999, she did conservation work for the Illinois State Museum for many years, ultimately conserving more than 400 artifacts from its ethnographic collections.

Jonathan Reyman, former Curator of Anthropology at the Illinois State Museum, said that Bronwyn was far and away the best conservator he’d ever worked with.

“She was just really, really good. And I just miss her as a colleague. She had an incredible sense of humor,” Reyman said.

Reyman wasn’t the only one who thought so. Bronwyn’s close friend Fumika Brudnak can still hear Bronwyn’s giggle when she closes her eyes. “She used to make me laugh. She and I could joke about anything.” Fumika met Bronwyn when she moved to Springfield from Japan; new to this country, she was lonely and very homesick.

“Bronwyn introduced me to a lot of people in Springfield, and my life changed. Now I love my life in Springfield, and it’s all because of her,” Fumika said.

When her daughters, Amelia and Sophie, were born, Bronwyn enthusiastically embraced the role of being a mom. She was devoted to her children and loved spending weekends at their sporting events. “She was such a good mom; I cannot emphasize that enough. She loved her daughters and would do anything for them,” Fumika recalled.

In between juggling a career and motherhood, Bronwyn found time to volunteer extensively in the community. Her record of service includes volunteering at Iles School and serving on the board of directors of the Dana-Thomas House Foundation, the Springfield Public Schools Foundation and the Springfield Art Association. “Whatever she got involved in, she went all in,” said Bill.

 Many of her friends remember her as the first to lend a hand if someone needed help. Whether quietly working behind the scenes or taking leadership positions on boards of directors, Bronwyn found personal fulfillment in trying to be of service. “She was always driven to try to make a difference,” said her husband, Bill, “even if the difference was just a small victory of trying to be thoughtful and help someone out.”

Bronwyn was particularly passionate about the Art Outreach program at the Springfield Art Association, which brings art into classrooms of area schools through a network of volunteers. After her death, her family set up a memorial fund with the goal of expanding the program into underserved communities.

“A lot of people may never be exposed to art, so we wanted to make a difference. The Art Outreach memorial fund combines so many of Bronwyn’s passions: schools, community, kids and art education,” said her husband.

Bronwyn had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in her brain that ruptured on May 29, 2015, which resulted in a massive stroke. She succumbed to the effects of this stroke on July 8, 2016. Her passing deprived the community of an expert conservator, a selfless volunteer, and an all-around wonderful human being.

Bronwyn’s family members hope that people will remember her for the inspiration that she was, and that her legacy will inspire people to become more engaged in their community, whether with schools or service organizations or simply lending a helping hand whenever possible.

To make a contribution to the Bronwyn Eves Memorial Fund, contact the Springfield Art Association at 700 N. Fourth St., Springfield, 62702 or call 217-523-2631.

Erika Holst is the Curator of Collections for the Springfield Art Association. She was privileged to get to know Bronwyn through her work with that organization.

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