Brainerd in shock after sudden death of city council president

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Friends and colleagues of Bonnie Cumberland are shocked by this week's death of Brainerd's city council president and former mayor.

As the Brainerd Dispatch reports, authorities found the 67-year-old Cumberland dead in her home after she uncharacteristically missed Monday's city council meeting.

The Dispatch says Cumberland taught at Brainerd High School for 34 years until her 2002 retirement. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in the 1990s, during the eight years she served as mayor. Cumberland later told the Dispatch that her bout with cancer helped her appreciate life more and that to some people she was "...Bonnie. The mayor with breast cancer."

Cumberland also was active in her church, served on the city's Public Utilities Commission, and was named Brainerd's Citizen of the Year in 2001, according to the newspaper. Current Mayor James Wallin tells the Dispatch “She was really just a joy to work with. She was so dedicated to the city and the community in so many ways. She was really an attribute to the city and council and just a wonderful lady. It comes as just a shock to us.”

The Star Tribune reports Cumberland's cause of death is being investigated, with the Ramsey County medical examiner conducting an autopsy.

An editorial in the Dispatch describes Cumberland's associates, friends, and former students as inconsolable. Reflecting on her life, the editors write, leads to the lesson "...that in our busy lives, as we pursue business, political or other objectives, there’s no reason we can’t be pleasant and encouraging to others."

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