The Way We Were: Betty and Tesch Brundick

The Way We Were: Betty and Tesch Brundick

By Victoria Register-Freeman


Betty Blount Brundick likes to point at the letter B cast in concrete above the front door of her home. Her eyes twinkle when she says,” Tesch married me for the B.”

The couple met at Lakeshore Junior High School in seventh grade.  Betty remembers, “My class opened Lakeshore. For part of seventh grade the junior high wasn’t completed, so we had to stay on the top floor of Ortega Elementary. When we finally moved over to Lakeshore, there was no electricity, no lockers, and no heat. I remember one rainy afternoon when our teacher had to move over to the window to read to the class because there was no light. We also had to bring our lunches and sit on the floor to eat them. When I heard a new boy was coming, I declared that he would be my boyfriend. And he was— for a week.”

Forty years later, the couple met again at a wedding. Both single now, they dated for two years before becoming husband and wife January 26, 1991 thus creating a blended family of eight children and twelve grandchildren. “We had thirteen grandchildren, but lost one tragically in an accident on the Buckman Bridge,” recalls Tesch.

Growing up in the Riverside, Avondale, Ortega area, both Tesch and Betty were connected to North Florida’s waterways.  Fannie Stockton, Betty’s grandmother, had a house near Sixth Street on Atlantic Beach and Betty’s mother, father and three sisters moved to the beach for a month each summer. “I walked up and down the beach with my friend Ann Yerkes. I really looked forward to my father’s arrival from his job downtown as the Duval County attorney. After work, he would come home to the beach and take me out to jump the big waves, always an exciting event. I remember also when my father was honored by having Blount Island named after him. I think he said it had been called Goat Island and he thought maybe Blount Island was a better name.

As far as bad outdoor experiences go, I got my worst sunburn ever not at the beach, but sitting on the sundial at the Yacht Club back when the pool was oriented in another direction. It was a windy day and I was talking to some friends, not realizing that I was frying. Something else I remember about the Yacht Club then was the fact the pool water was ice cold. I think it was spring fed which was not unusual. Betsy Lovett lived in Green Cove at the time and her pool was spring fed and freezing also. We didn’t complain because we were used to seriously cold water.

Tesch whose unique first name was his mother Fannie’s maiden name was connected to the St. Johns River via sailboat. “Frederick William Brundick, my father, took me out on the river when I was 11 or 12 and taught me how to sail. I loved it. Later, I became a member of the Rudder Club and spent lots of afternoons racing my Snipe class boat. I’ve done some ocean racing and won a few trophies. Billy Ross, Johnny Fewell, Tony Robida, Fred Cates and Bucky Mills were all part of the sailing adventure.”

After Lakeshore, Tesch transferred to Bolles, which was then an entirely male military academy. He remembers very formal dress parades wearing dark blue jackets, white pants. After the parades, the cadets handed flowers to their girlfriends.

Another early memory from Bolles is walking the Bull Ring. “When we got any demerits, we had to walk the Ring, a circular path at the school. I remember once I had to call a date and tell her that I had to cancel because I was walking. Her father got furious about my cancellation and called my father. I got out of the Bull Ring but had to make it up later. After that experience, I was a model cadet.

We had dances at Bolles. Some cadets had cars and they were sent out to bring the dates to the event. Of course they had to walk up to each door to get the girls. There was no tooting the horn in the driveway. At the dances there were almost more chaperons than dancers. And the chaperons took their jobs very, very seriously.”

Both Tesch and Betty remember the less chaperoned sorority and fraternity tea dances held at the Ortega Pier on Saturday afternoons. “I think they cost a dime or fifteen cents to get in,” recalls Tesch. The music came from a jukebox that we could tilt and make it play. Those were great afternoons.” Then after the “great afternoons” it was on to Sewanee for Tesch and Mary Baldwin for Betty.

Not far from the site of the former pier is the Southern Museum of History, a place Tesch, who saw much of the world in the Coast Guard, likes to support now with time, talent and treasure. Betty has been active in a number of civic organizations including Junior League and Colonial Dames.

Indeed, the baronial B on the front door could stand for Best Buddies because that is the feeling one gets around this delightful couple.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)