Robert B. Bruner, one of the most influential health care executives in the state of Connecticut
over the past 50 years, died peacefully in his Bloomfield home Tuesday morning. He was 90
years old. Known as Bob to his friends and colleagues, Mr. Bruner was a leader, an accomplished hospital administrator, and a bold innovator in the health care field.
He was also a loving husband and
father, and always had a way of making people laugh.
Bob served as President and Executive Director of Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford from 1970
until his retirement in 1991, and was a driving force behind the successful merger of Mt. Sinai
and St. Francis Hospitals at the end of his career. A graduate of Long Island and New York
Universities, Bob served as administrator of the University Hospital at SUNY Stony Brook and
Long Island Jewish Hospital before coming to Connecticut.
Bob played a major role in the development of health care programs and policies in Connecticut
throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Among his many accolades, he was appointed by Governor
Ella Grasso as a member of the State Commission on Hospitals and Health Care, and served
as the President of the National Commission on the Certification of Physicians’ Assistants (and
was among the small group of health care professionals across the United States who
advocated for the creation of the distinct function and career path of PA). He was also the
President of the Combined Hospitals Alcoholism Program, Chairman of the New England
Hospital Assembly’s Blue Ribbon Committee, Chairman of the National Conference of Chief
Executives of Jewish American Hospitals, and Chairman of the Capital Area Health Consortium.
He was a Fellow of the American College of Hospital Administrators, Fellow of the American
Public Health Association, American Fellow of the Royal Society of Health, and a recipient of the
Connecticut Hospital Association’s T. Stewart Hamilton, M.D., Distinguished Service Award. He
was also member of the teaching faculties of the University of Hartford, and both the University
of Connecticut’s School of Law and School of Medicine.
But he will be remembered as much for his warmth, wit, and wicked sense of humor. He used
humor to diffuse tension, to elicit peoples’ softer sides, to cheer up folks when they were down,
to convince people that his path was the right approach (which it almost always was); and to
bring people together in moments of celebration and joy. He always had a joke or story at the
ready, and his timing was impeccable.
He had many diverse skills and talents. He demanded excellence in a way that he did not have
to tell you, and instead you demanded it from yourself. He loved traveling with his family, and
took them on many adventures throughout North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. He
was a skillful electrician and mechanic – he tuned his own cars and would fix broken toasters,
radios, and other electrical appliances, a skill that unfortunately did not get passed down to his
Bob is survived by his wife of 67 years, Janet, his sons Steven and Marc, and his five
grandchildren, Hayley, Will, Amanda, Jeremy, and Talia.
A memorial service will be held at the B’nai Tikvoh Sholom Cemetery at 49 Clubhouse Rd,
Windsor, CT (which is not co-located with the B’nai Tikvoh Sholom synagogue in Bloomfield). A
reception will be held afterwards at the Bruners’ home, at 2 Spy Glass Circle in Bloomfield.
The family requests that any charitable donations in his name focus on social justice, the care of children, and/or the preservation of our national parks.