Brett Schurmann, a retired case manager for the state Department of Safety and Correctional Services, died on Wednesday of pneumonia at St. Agnes HealthCare after contending for 20 years with multiple sclerosis. The longtime Catonsville resident was 45.
Born in Baltimore, Mr. Schurmann was a 1977 graduate of Catonsville High School and a 1981 graduate of what is now McDaniel College in Westminster. There, he met Judith Evelyn Caldwell of Street, whom he married in 1983.
Mr. Schurmann began college with an interest in politics, but after interning in a program where he served as a mentor to juvenile delinquents, he changed career paths, said his brother, Mark Schurmann of Atlanta.
After graduation, Mr. Schurmann worked at a halfway house for prisoners who were in the process of being released. A year later, he took a job with Maryland's corrections system in Hagerstown.
At age 25, multiple sclerosis was diagnosed. The discovery came as a blow, said his father, Richard Schurmann of Catonsville, but he stayed with his job for 12 more years.
When the disease caused him to stagger, he walked with a cane. When it prevented him from walking, he came to work with a wheelchair. When the wheelchair was impossible to navigate around his office building, he transferred to another penitentiary.
His illness forced him to retire in 1996, when he returned to the home of his parents, who became his full-time caretakers.
In retirement, he fought the disease, exercising regularly at a YMCA swim program for people with multiple sclerosis.
A memorial service will be scheduled.
In addition to his wife, father and brother, survivors include his mother, Carolyn Schurmann of Catonsville; two daughters, Erin Schurmann and Lianne Schurmann of Catonsville; and his sister, Anne Schurmann of Montclair, N.J.