By Deborah Dyer, director, Bar Harbor Historical Society
From the April, 1917, Bar Harbor Times
The death of Prof. Rudolf Ernest Brunnow of Princeton University occurred at his home after an illness of only two days with pneumonia. Bar Harbor was deeply shocked at his sudden death, the last in a series of tragedies that have seemed to befall the Brunnow home ever since the handsome villa was constructed here. (Note: the Brunnow home is located on the Schooner Head Road and the name of the home is “High Seas.”)
Prof. Brunnow was a German by birth and registered as a citizen of Germany. He held some of the highest degrees that it was possible for the German University to bestow and in his own department, that of Semitic lore, he was considered one of the leading authorities in the country.
For the last year or two he had done little active teaching and this season he had spent the entire year at his home in Bar Harbor, which was fitted for year-round occupancy. He was one of the favorite members of Bar Harbor’s summer colony and was deeply interested in the welfare of the town. He was an ardent lover of the walks and trails of his island home and spent many hours traversing the mountain paths here.
Prof. Brunnow’s fine home was built a number of years ago and he intended to bring his bride here. The house, one of the largest, at Bar Harbor, situated near Schooner Head and overlooking the broad ocean and the cliffs at its base, was constructed for their honeymoon. Before they were married, however his bride perished on the ill-fated Titanic, giving up her place to another and older woman. Two families of Bar Harbor’s summer colony were thrown into mourning by the ill-fated steamer.
Another tragedy in Prof. Brunnow’s life was the sudden death of his oldest son, Eric, last fall.
The boy, registered as a freshman at Princeton, left here to begin his studies. On his way he stopped for a night or two in New York with friends and was smitten with infantile paralysis, dying in two days, the grief stricken father having hardly time to reach his bedside.
Prof. Brunnow’s own death came as culminating chapter, owing to an attack of pneumonia which lasted but two days. Funeral services were held at the home, acting rector of Saint Saviour’s officiating.
A thoroughly likable, generous and respected man, Prof. Brunnow will be sincerely mourned by Bar Harbor people, with whom he had made his home, and who regret the dark cloud of tragedy that seems to have followed his last years.
Editor’s Note: Reports of Brunnow’s fiancé perishing on the Titanic are not entirely accurate. The woman, Edith Evans, was his friend. Officials at the Bar Harbor Historical Society say there is no evidence they planned to marry.
To find out more about Bar Harbor history, visit www.barharborhistorical.org.