“His life made ours better.”
Michael Brindley’s parents, Robert and Kristine, believed those five words best described how their son lived. Those words are now inscribed on a plaque attached to a new bench in front of the Naval Building, facing Lake Maxinkuckee. The bench was officially dedicated on Tuesday, June 25.
Michael Brindley was a first classman in Naval 2 – Super II – when he passed away suddenly last summer. The cause was determined to be sudden cardiac death, the second-leading cause of death among people 14 to 24 years old, his father said.
Following Michael’s passing, the Culver community came together for his parents and his Super II brothers. The boys, in turn, wrote short messages to Robert and Kristine expressing how much Michael meant to them. Kristine said they were struck by the phrases the boys used to describe their feelings. She shared some during the ceremony, saying they “mean the world to us.”
The boys wrote of Michael’s “kind heart and sweet soul;” how he could “turn your worst day into the best;” and how he was “forever my friend, forever my brother.” One wrote that “you could feel his presence when he entered the room.” And one that especially stuck with them was “His life made mine better.”
Col. Warren Foersch, the summer commandant, said he remembers Michael for his “quiet confidence” and how his eyes told you “he was where he wanted to be.” A principled leader, Naval 2 and the regiment can best honor Michael by following his example, Foersch added.
Don Fox, the past director of Culver Summer Schools & Camps, said Michael was “one of the most amazing people I have ever met.” And he told the Brindleys that Culver is “always your place” and that it was only appropriate that the bench be placed next to the Naval Building overlooking the lake that Michael enjoyed so.
He also read a note from the former Super II counselor Gabriel Gonzalez, who said the unit wanted to win the Communications Relay so badly to honor Michael’s memory, that when it didn’t happen, it forced the boys – and himself – “to face that winning was not the only way” to honor him, but there were “less glamorous but more important ways.” That included putting all they had into their work every time and living their lives for the benefit of others.
The Brindleys have established a charitable foundation to raise the awareness of sudden cardiac death. It is named Just1Mike after Michael’s blog. Along with raising awareness, the foundation will fund testing for the prevention of sudden cardiac death in teens, provide AED equipment, provide training for emergency preparedness plans in case of an episode, and provide scholarships in Michael’s name. Along with the website, there is a Facebook page that explains the foundation’s work.