Scottsdale Leadership Blast from The Past Article, from the Branching Out October 2021 Newsletter
– Kurt Brueckner –
In last month’s article, we highlighted two recipients of the Herb Drinkwater Leadership Award, Betty Drake and Jim Bruner. This month we wanted to shine a spotlight on a recipient of the Frank Hodges Alumni Achievement Award, and we could not think of a better person to write about than Kurt Brueckner of Class 2. He was the recipient of the award in 2008. We met with Kurt after all of us had attended the latest Award Winner’s Committee which meets each year to select the next Drinkwater and Hodges Award winners. That decision is made by the previous award winners and is taken very seriously by everyone.
As we talked to Kurt, we were reminded of just how many very influential people take advantage of one little spark that sends them on to greatness. In Kurt’s case it was a breakfast with his fellow Scottsdale Leadership Class 2 Classmate Jamie Drinkwater Stockton. During the breakfast she asked him if he wanted to meet her Dad, Scottsdale Mayor Herb Drinkwater, and of course Kurt said yes. Well Herb Drinkwater never wasted an opportunity to seize on someone’s talents to help Scottsdale, so he asked Kurt what he was interested in and Kurt told him transportation issues in Scottsdale. Well in typical Herb Drinkwater fashion he appointed Kurt on the spot to be the co-chairman of his new transportation commission. That experience propelled Kurt onward in Scottsdale.
Part of the fun of these interviews is finding out about the backgrounds of these cool people. In Kurt’s case, he is from a small Illinois town called Pekin, which is just south of Peoria. Kurt’s father was also active in the community and helped on the campaign of the famous Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen who now has a U.S. Senate Office Building named after him in Washington, D.C. Kurt told us that he was always interested in making and winning arguments so that is why he thought about becoming a lawyer. When it came time to choose a college, he did like countless other midwestern kids have before him, he left the cold and snow of Illinois to come down to Arizona. Kurt ended up getting his undergraduate degree at Arizona State University and earned his law degree from the University of Arizona. We had a laugh when he told us that he can be happy no matter what the final score is at the end of the big ASU vs. U of A Football Game each year.
As Kurt began his law practice, Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce President Phil Carlson told him of this new group called Scottsdale Leadership that was being formed and that he wanted Kurt to help put together the organizing legal documents that would get the Leadership program off the ground. When that was done, Phil said well now you might as well go through the program yourself, which he did when he joined the second Scottsdale Leadership class which graduated in 1988. As we detailed above, Scottsdale Leadership was his first real opportunity to get involved in Scottsdale and boy did he do that.
Kurt has never even considered resting on his laurels. He is putting his talent and connections to use on new exciting ideas even now. Probably the most interesting idea that he told us about is his efforts to enhance the yearly Parada del Sol parade by bringing together the Scottsdale Charros, Scottsdale Leadership, and the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce to collaborate on ideas for each of these organizations to become even more involved in this signature event on the Scottsdale calendar. With common sense ideas like that it is no wonder he has been honored by groups like Scottsdale Leadership and the Scottsdale History Hall of Fame.
Kurt told us he has no plans to settle down and retire from his law practice. He and his wife Sue, who is Regional director of a Biotech firm, have been married for 38 years, have 3 adult children. Kurt is proud of the work he has done with his law firm, Titus, Brueckner and Levine over the years. He mentioned that his firm, which began in 1989, is the longest continuously serving law firm in Scottsdale.
Before we finished our interview with Kurt, he kind of summed up his attitude toward life and service to our community when he said, “you get out what you put in”. We thought to ourselves that he is living proof of just how true that is. There is no doubt that he has put a ton of effort into helping Scottsdale, and it is plain to anyone who looks at him and his easy smile, that he has gotten a lot of joy out of his efforts through the years. All of us can probably agree that is what it is all about in the end.