Brenda L. Fletcher-McGruder passed away at her home on Monday, June 13, 2022. She was born October 10, 1946, in Appalachia, Virginia the daughter of the late Phillip D. and Louise (Adams) Fletcher. Her father was an Officer in the United States Navy and saw action in the European Theatre, her mother was a former Miss Appalachian and a bookkeeper for Old Dominion Freight.
Brenda attended Jacksonville University graduating Magna cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science and was the Valedictorian of the class of 1968. After graduation she became a Registered Medical Technologist and worked her way through graduate school at the University of Tennessee and was awarded a National Defense Graduate Fellowship. She earned her Master of Science in 1974 while married to her first husband, Donald Wayne Salter, an officer in the United States Army during Vietnam. She continued her clinical work while raising her only son Erik who was born in 1974. In 1978 Brenda began her career as a Clinical Research Associate publishing over a dozen research papers and giving many presentations across the world during her 35 year career. A favorite destination for her was Paris France in 2000 where she visited Normandy and was moved by the World War II memorials. She worked in many different therapeutic areas but her special talent was in Diabetes research. In 1982 Brenda met the love of her life James Eugene McGruder (United States Navy Vietnam Veteran) and after their marriage Brenda traveled across the United States and around the world while working for The Upjohn Company, Pfizer, and Astra-Zeneca. Together Brenda and James reared her son and his three daughters while traveling the country on vacations and maintaining a loving family home. The family always owned a motorhome and used it to see the country as a journey and a destination. Throughout their 40 year marriage Brenda and James were always a team: in the kitchen, finances, dancing, traveling, and rearing the children. Brenda and James are members of the First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo and were joined in marriage by the honorable David Mcshane. Brenda had a voracious appetite for reading books and always read the Sunday Kalamazoo Gazette newspaper. James and Brenda would often go out dancing whenever they could and if not they would dance in the living room to Lawrence Welk. She loved music and musicals, and her laughter was contagious to anyone in the room. In 1983 she purchased a Delorean DMC12, which was her dream car and together they drove to many destinations throughout Michigan. Always a chemist at heart, she experimented in the kitchen with recipes and perfected many family favorites including fruit cake, pumpkin and mincemeat pies. After retirement, James and Brenda indulged in world travel and visited Western Europe, Russia and the Baltics, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Central America, and across the United States. Her particular favorite state was Alaska, and they visited many times over the years. They always got up before dawn wherever they were to see the sunrise and enjoy the wildlife over coffee. Brenda and James went on many cruises around the world on their preferred Holland America Lines, documenting all the great moments on film. She had a great love for Architecture and loved to visit Frank Lloyd Wright sites and spend the Holidays at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. She was the center of the family and the world is poorer for her absence.
On April 6, 1982, Brenda married James E. McGruder who survives. Also surviving are their children, Erik Salter, Ellen McGruder, Pamela McGruder, and Stacy (Edward) McGruder-Orr; grandchildren, Bronson Wolfe, Jasper Wolfe, Angie (Matt) Ridenour, Heather (Junior) Downer, and Mae Fish; and great-grandchildren, Maddie, Vincent, Ike, Ryan, and Bradon.
A graveside service will be held 1:30pm Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Ft. Custer National Cemetery. Those wishing to attend should be in the cemetery assembly area by 1:15. In lieu of flowers, please consider a gift to American Diabetes Association or First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo. Services entrusted to Langeland Family Funeral Homes Burial & Cremation Services, 3926 S. 9th St, Kalamazoo MI 49009. To view Brenda's personalized web page, please visit https://www.langelands.com
American Diabetes Association
P.O. Box 7023, Merrifield VA 22116
First Presbyterian Church
321 W. South Street, Kalamazoo