Brenda B. Bridge, retired principal of the Children's Guild who was honored for her work with emotionally disturbed students, died Monday of cancer at Gilchrist Hospice. She lived in Pikesville and was 67.
Born Brenda Blumenfeld in Baltimore, she was the daughter of a Romanian father and Russian-born mother. As a child she learned Yiddish and English, and attended the city's honors school, Robert E. Lee No. 49, before graduating in 1957 from Forest Park High School. She earned a bachelor's degree at what is now Towson University and a master's from the Johns Hopkins University.
"Brenda quickly learned that if she was going to have more than a green sweater that had a hole under the arm and possess a warm coat for winter, she was going to have to find a means to earn money to buy her own clothes," said her companion, Terry Zinz Fishler.
At the age 15, she became a summer receptionist and secretary at Baltimore Contractors on Central Avenue. To get a discount, she also sold women's clothes at the Hutzler's Towson store.
She taught in the Baltimore County public school system at Woodmoor and Franklin Elementary schools before joining the faculty of the Children's Guild, a school for emotionally disturbed youngsters. She went on to become its principal and retired in 1996. The school saw its enrollment grow from 40 students to more than 140. During her tenure, it moved from Ruscombe Lane to Smith Avenue and again to McClean Boulevard.
"She brought the strong academic program to the Guild and successfully merged it with the clinical component. As these emotionally disturbed youngsters were transitioning back into the public school system, other educators took note of what Brenda was accomplishing," said Ms. Fishler, the Guild's former director of clinical services.
In 1996 she joined the Methodist Board of Child Care off Liberty Road in Baltimore County and became director of education at its school. She worked with older children and teens and established a program that mixed academics with vocational skills.
"She found a way to engage these troubled kids to become engaged in learning," Ms. Fishler said.
In late 1998 she joined the Maryland State Department of Education's special-education division.
At her 2004 retirement, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. awarded her a Governor's Citation for outstanding service. State Schools Superintendent Nancy A. Grasmick named her an outstanding special educator for her "many years of dedication."
After retiring from the state, she worked with Ms. Fishler to run the Golf Road Show Inc., a multimedia production company.
Ms. Bridge cherished an autographed picture she received at a meeting with Julia Child. She also enjoyed family meals for the Jewish holidays.
"She said she had no hobbies, but she spent hours in the kitchen. Walking into a food store for Brenda was like walking into a museum for the rest of us," said Ms. Fishler. "After her cancer progressed, and she had trouble walking, she would still go to the grocery store. She was in heaven."
Services were held Wednesday in Pikesville.
In addition to her companion, survivors include a son, Dr. David S. Bridge of Norman, Okla.; a daughter, Bari Hein of Germantown; two brothers, Dr. Herbert Blumenfeld and Dr, Samuel Blumenfeld, both of Baltimore; and two granddaughters.