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UNC professor John Bromley students' favorite

Published April 9, 2008 at 12:05 a.m.

John Bromley was a scholar, a writer and an adviser to two Republican governors. But his intellect, which encompassed everything from Henry V to newspapering to economics, never interfered with his sense of fun.

When the urge struck, he'd liberate his University of Northern Colorado students from the classroom and take everybody to Dairy Queen.

Mr. Bromley died March 26 at North Colorado Medical Center, Greeley, after battling lung cancer for eight years. He was 70.

"He loved life and made mine feel meaningful when I had a hard time finding that meaning myself," former student Brandy Jackson wrote in the memorial book.

John Carter Bromley was born Oct. 5, 1937, in Denver. A graduate of East High School, he earned degrees at the University of Colorado and the University of Michigan before teaching English and American literature at Wayne State University in Michigan and at CU.

In 1970, he left the academic world to become speechwriter and research director for Colorado Govs. John Love and John Vanderhoof. In 1974-75, he was a political columnist for the Rocky Mountain News, then returned to the Capitol as legislative assistant to the Senate majority leader.

Mr. Bromley's UNC teaching career, which began in 1985, propelled him from journalism to English to history to business. In 2000, he became head of the President's Leadership Program at UNC, spearheading scholarships and mentoring. Named the university's adviser of the year four times, he was perennially chosen by students as a Mortar Board Favorite Professor.

He continued teaching until his illness slowed him four months ago.

"John really was a Renaissance man," said his fourth and last wife, Susan Plock Bromley. They were married Dec. 2, 1978, in Burlington, Iowa.

"At heart he was a writer," Mrs. Bromley said. His book The Shakespearean Kings, which grew out of a doctoral dissertation, was published in 1969. His journalism work included restaurant reviews for Denver Monthly in the 1970s, columns for Rocky Mountain Business Journal and, in recent years, theater reviews for the Greeley Tribune.

"He loved food and theater and collecting (antiquarian) books," Mrs. Bromley said. He also grappled with alcoholism, she said, before abruptly corking the bottle on July 4, 1978 - Independence Day.

A lifelong Republican, he recently surprised friends by coming out for Sen. Barack Obama.

Services were March 31 at Greeley's Allnutt funeral home. Burial was in Burlington, Iowa. On March 28, UNC students dedicated their annual Relay for Life walkathon to this favorite professor of theirs.

In addition to his wife, Mr. Bromley is survived by a daughter, Lauren Bromley Hodge, of Hillsborough, N.C.; a stepdaughter, Karen Marshall, of Grand Cayman; a brother, James, of Bethesda, Md.; and four grandchildren.

Memorial contributions may be made to the John Bromley Scholarship Fund of the UNC President's Leadership Program, in care of Allnutt Funeral Service, 702 13th St., Greeley, CO 80631.

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