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Brenda Broadbent

Brenda Bernhards Broadbent of Emmitsburg, passed away November 18, a week after her birthday, at Kline Hospice House in Mt. Airy. Brenda was a warm and caring person, and wore many hats in her life: teacher, librarian, entrepreneur, business owner, mentor, gardener, crafts person; a nurturer and lover of art and music. She was a lover of life and a wonderful wife to Richard, and beloved mother to Jane.

She was born on Armistice Day, 1950, to Fred and Betty Bernhards of Riverdale, MD, and grew up there. Teachers were Brenda's friends and she was a passionate student even in Riverdale Elementary schooldays. She graduated from Bladensburg High School in 1968, where she was SGA president and inducted in the National Honor Society. In 1972 Brenda graduated from Western Maryland College where she studied English, deaf education and was involved in SGA, student religious life, campus clubs, and tennis! She was a favorite of the late Dean Ira Zepp, remaining in touch all his life.

While teaching at Fairmont Heights HS Brenda and Richard met through friends, and they were married at the Adelphi Friends (Quaker) Meeting on the Winter Solstice in 1973. A foot of snow fell that day, the sky clearing to reveal sparkling stars for the evening wedding. Always a spiritual woman, Brenda welcomed the ways of Friends in her life and the family attended Frederick Friends Meeting many years.

After employment at the MD School for the Deaf, Brenda worked many years as a librarian at the Laurel and New Carrollton branches of the Prince Georges County Library and completed a Masters of Library Science degree at U of MD. Jane was born in 1981 and Brenda enjoyed mothering a student as much as being one.

Always an avid creator of crafts and art she developed a deep interest in calligraphy, taking lessons with lifelong friend and mentor Louise Megginson. Early in the 1980's she founded Paper and Ink Arts, a premier calligraphers supply store. When the family moved to Emmitsburg, the business became her fulltime work and for 30 years she and her team shipped books and supplies to calligraphers all over the world. She was especially popular at the annual international calligrapher's conferences where she freely shared her expert knowledge of calligraphic tools, supplies and techniques, and made hundreds of friends doing so. In 2003 she authored Parallel Pen Wizardry, a definitive monograph on uses of the Parallel Pen, previously unimagined even by its manufacturer.

Her business was sold in 2011 and Brenda was glad having more time to develop her own art and spend time in the flower and vegetable gardens she loved so dearly, though still teaching calligraphic styles at conferences across the country, and mentoring the new owners of the business. Outgoing and smiling beautifully, she was friendly to all, and the love of our lives.

In April 2016 Brenda was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. She persevered through surgery and chemotherapy with the same spirit she brought to art and gardening. Remission in summer 2017 was a precious gift to her and the family. But when cancer returned it did not respond well to treatment. Always a woman to take control of her life, Brenda stopped the treatments she felt were not improving her life. She would not allow cancer the use of her body any longer.

In addition to Richard and Jane, Brenda is survived by sister Linda Antaya and husband Rick, of Mequon, WI, and niece Melanie and family, nephew Michael; brother in law Phil Broadbent and daughter, Amy, sister in law Bonnie Esposito and husband John.

A memorial service in the manner of Friends is planned for January 14, 1 pm, with Quaker worship starting at 1:30, at Thorpewood, on Mink Farm Rd., Thurmont. Refreshments will follow. Kindly RSVP to Richard or Jane by mail or email.

Instead of flowers, please consider a donation to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (N.O.C.C.), 3800 Maple Ave., Room 435, Dallas, TX 75219, noting "In memory of Brenda Bernhards Broadbent, Frederick, Maryland Chapter NOCC," when donating.

Read other obituaries in the Historical Society archives