Mary Bruch

Mary K Bruch (Kestermeier)

Saturday, June 28th, 1930 - Friday, June 5th, 2020
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Mary K. Bruch, Pioneering Microbiologist, Dies at 89

Mary Ruth Kestermeier Bruch 89, formerly of Marietta, Ohio, died Friday, June 5, 2020 at her and her twin sister’s home in Hamilton, Virginia. Mary and her twin sister Martha were born on June 28, 1930 in Marietta, Ohio to Albert Henry and Eleanor Mae Snodgrass Kestermeier. Born significantly premature at only two and a half pounds, the twins survived against great odds, thanks to the efforts of a young Marietta physician.

Mary obtained her Bachelor of Science from Marietta College and her Master’s in Microbiology from the University of Wisconsin–Madison at a time when the sciences were overwhelmingly dominated by men. As a female pioneer in the field, she excelled at her work as a microbiologist for the Food and Drug Administration, National Canners Association Research Laboratories, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, as well as in the private sector. She served for decades in the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and was acknowledged repeatedly for her excellence and service. Her colleagues recognized her wealth of scientific knowledge and experience and pursuit of the highest standards in antimicrobial science – a field more important now than ever.

Her mother Eleanor, a teacher, and father Albert, proprietor of Kestermeier Shoes on Front Street, supported and fostered Mary’s and Martha’s tireless curiosity and pursuit of science. Mary spread this love of learning to those around her and never hesitated to gift a good book she knew her friends and family would like. A proud daughter of Marietta, she also collected Ohio Valley pottery and glassware, which she sold at her several antique booths in Northern Virginia.

Her creativity and love were expressed in her cooking and gardening, and her family benefitted from her great interest in the science of the kitchen. As family matriarch, Mary never let a holiday or family occasion pass without proper celebration, recognizing the importance of sharing joy in life with those she loved. Her pride and joy were her daughters, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, who are forever indebted to her for instilling a lifelong love of reading, learning, and science.

Mary is survived by her two daughters, Elise Bruch of Portland, Oregon, and Miriam Burton (and husband Alton Burton, Esq.) of Bethesda, Maryland; four grandchildren, AJ Burton, Esq. (and wife Emma Simson, Esq.), Kim Bonilla (and husband Juan Bonilla), Cal Burton, M.D., and Tori Burton; three great grandchildren, DJ, Mariana, and Valentina Bonilla; and former husband, Dr. Carl W. Bruch, PhD, of Hudson, Wisconsin.

Funeral Liturgy with mass will be held on Friday, June 12, 2020 at 10:00 am at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption, with The Rev. Josh Erickson officiating. Burial will follow in New St. Mary’s Cemetery, where she will be laid to rest next to her sister and parents. There will be no visitation. To view the services live please visit

Donations may be made in her memory to the Dominican Sisters of Peace, 2320 Airport Drive, Columbus, Ohio 43219, or go to . The Marietta Chapel of Cawley & Peoples Funeral Homes is honored to serve Mary’s family, offering on-line condolences and many other resources by visiting .

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Mary K Bruch (Kestermeier), please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

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Service Details

  • Funeral Liturgy with Mass

    Friday, June 12th, 2020 | 10:00am
    Friday, June 12th, 2020 10:00am
    The Basilica of St. Mary of the Assumption
    506 Fourth Street
    MARIETTA, OH 45750
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    The Rev Josh Erickson
  • Interment

    Friday, June 12th, 2020 |
    Friday, June 12th, 2020
    New St. Mary's Cemetery
    Address Not Available


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Phyllis Vitolo

Posted at 12:39pm
My sincere condolences to Mary's family during this difficult and sorrowful time. I marveled at Mary's astute memory and valuable contributions at our ASTM and HCPA industry association meetings. Her love of microbiology never wavered as she provided historical perspectives and sound, critical detail to all of our projects. I am glad to have made her acquaintance and have fond memories. She will be missed. Sincerely, Phyllis Vitolo

David C. Barrett, Jr.

Posted at 09:26am
Condolences to Mary's children and grandchildren during this time of mourning. I remember visiting with Mary and her sister at a number of family gatherings in Marietta. I also remember visiting Uncle Albert and Aunt Eleanor at their home in Marietta. I have very fond memories of Uncle Albert as a very kind man.

Kathleen Baxter

Posted at 04:47pm
Mary was a strong and powerful woman so ahead of the times in so many ways. We are thankful to Mary for all her contributions to the Science of Microbiology and for being the mentor that she was for so many. May she remain in our hearts and minds forever. Photos of her receipt of the ASTM Internationals "Award of Merit", April 12, 2016 are attached. Fondly remembering her, Kathy Baxter

Linda Patenaude

Posted at 05:53pm
My sincere condolences to Mary's family. I met Mary at ASTM meetings and we became great friends. I have posted in the photo section a picture of Mary receiving an award at ASTM for all that she has done for ASTM and the Microbiology world. I cannot recall the exact year, but it may have been the last ASTM meeting she attended in San Antonio Texas. She was not feeling well at the time, but we insisted that she return to this meeting room in order that we could honor her. Mary, you are no longer in pain and until we meet again. Your ASTM buddy, Linda Patenaude

Brian Heimbuch

Posted at 01:30pm
Mary was an inspiration to me and others. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with Mary and learn from her. Please accept my deepest sympathy.
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