Brenda Bradley Bisbee (affectionately known as “B” or “B-cube”) died peacefully May 27, 2023 at age 92, with her husband of 53 years, John, by her side.
Born in Boston on August 26, 1930, Brenda grew up in Belmont, Massachusetts, daughter of Ruth Earl Bradley and Robert Ivan Bradley, with younger sister Sandra Bradley Clark, predeceased. She graduated from Boston University and was a lifelong educator, volunteer, advocate, and philanthropist. She held several teaching positions at Nashoba Brooks School in Concord, MA, happily culminating in a position as school librarian, where she discovered and championed many young authors of children’s books. Later she enjoyed continuing education courses and seminars at Radcliffe and Simmons College, where she furthered her knowledge of psychology and women’s rights. She particularly enjoyed a Radcliffe course with Sophie Freud. She also worked in development at her alma mater, Brimmer and May School, where she learned to assist with fundraisers for nonprofit and charitable organizations. Before “retiring” from Massachusetts to Burlington and Fayston, VT in the late 1980s, she met Rev. Dr. Jill Rierdan at Wellesley College, who became a longtime friend and Wake Robin resident. At Wellesley College’s Center for Research on Women, Brenda assisted Jill as a research assistant on various projects including gender identity, depression, and body image. This work inspired her focus on championing the rights and wellbeing of girls and women.
Once in Vermont, Brenda helped found the Vermont Women’s Fund. She also advocated for and succeeded in bringing forward an amendment to the Vermont Constitution, approved by the voters on November 8, 1994, to revise its language to be gender inclusive. Governor Dean recognized Brenda in 1995 with an award for outstanding volunteer community service with the Governor’s Commission on Women.
She also volunteered relentlessly for multiple nonprofit organizations and commissions, including Planned Parenthood, Vermont Public, Pro-Choice Vermont, Vermont Stage Company, Vermont Council on the Humanities, Vermont Works for Women (Rosie’s Girls) and the Green Mountain Cultural Center, benefiting a large swath of Vermonters.
Brenda was pleased that her birthday fell on the anniversary of Women’s Suffrage and she celebrated her 80th birthday by hosting a fundraising event at Lareau Farm in Waitsfield that benefited the Vermont Women’s Fund. Her family and friends are proud that her legacy includes the long-lasting impact of her tireless efforts to give back to her community and empower each person to live as themselves.
Brenda and John moved to Wake Robin and found a home with great friends and support and dogs for patting on daily walks on the beautiful campus. She initiated the Sages and Seekers program that brought Waldorf School students in Shelburne to the residents of Wake Robin.
She is survived by her husband, sons Captain Brad Simonds of Sugarloaf Key, Florida and Joshua Simonds of Shelburne, Vermont, and their families; Michael Bisbee of Magdalena, New Mexico, Daniel Bisbee of Crestview, Florida, Alice Bisbee of Hull, Massachusetts, and Janet Bisbee of Duxbury, Vermont, and their families. They express special thanks for the extraordinary care and loving support of the Cedar staff at Wake Robin.
A Circle of Remembrance will be held at Wake Robin, and the family will have a private memorial later in the summer.
In lieu of flowers, make Brenda proud and give support to something that means the most to you. If you need inspiration, pick the Vermont Women’s Fund or Vermont Works for Women.