Carmel man touched many as restaurant manager, friend


Shawn Bruntlett had the perfect temperament to be a restaurant manager.

“Shawn was a dear man, with not one mean bone in his body,” Cafe Patachou owner Martha Hoover said. “He was impossible to ruffle, even while staring down a line of tickets and being torn into a myriad of directions in the chaos that defines a busy restaurant.”

Bruntlett, 52, died March 13 of a sudden heart attack at his Carmel home. He had worked with Hoover at Cafe Patachou for 25 years, most recently at the Hazel Dell location in Carmel.

“He was the warmest of souls,” Hoover said. “If you ask his customers and his teammates, Shawn could have run for mayor of east Carmel and easily won. He was a gentle leader, a small giant who could have taken up space had that been his desire. He could have demanded more attention to himself, but he refused the spotlight.”

That steady demeanor was evident at home for his wife, Amy, and son, Kenny, a Carmel High School senior.

“Shawn was the calm in the chaos of our family,” Amy said. “He was nonjudgmental, accepting and always supportive. He was willing to accept my friends as family. He and my sister, Karin, were the closest of friends, like brother and sister. We loved one another despite our faults. Shawn was passionate about whatever he did. He taught Kenny and I to appreciate the simple things in life, something everyone could learn from. He was my biggest ally and my best friend. I love that man with my entire being, the best husband anyone could ask for, and I am lucky to call him mine.”

Carmel resident Brian Holle considered Bruntlett his best friend. They met in grade school in Lafayette. Holle said Bruntlett moved to a different Lafayette school district, but they reconnected toward the end of their high school years.

“We remained close since then and lived together at Purdue,” Holle said. “He was an overall great guy. Everyone loved him. He was so welcoming. He was so easy to talk to and an easy guy to have fun. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would say one bad thing about Shawn. He was a great dad to Kenny. He loved sharing baseball and fishing with him.”

Bruntlett was scheduled to go to Las Vegas March 15 with Holle, younger brother Eric Bruntlett and another friend for the start of the NCAA  Men’s Basketball Tournament. This would have been their seventh trip to Las Vegas for the opening rounds.

Eric played several seasons in the majors for the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies. Bruntlett loved following his brother’s career.

Baseball is a love the family shared. Shawn Bruntlett played football and baseball for West Lafayette Harrison High School, and he is a member of the school’s hall of fame.

Kenny wrote a tribute to his father that Holle read for him at the funeral. Kenny said he not only lost his father but his best friend.

“Going to baseball recently has felt odd, because knowing that I am going home, and not being able to hear his voice asking me questions for hours on end after practice is a very strange feeling,” Kenny wrote. “And it is not just coming home from baseball that has felt odd, but just about everything in life has felt strange knowing that I will not be able to hear his calm soothing voice every single day. But he was not just special to me, but a great father figure to all. I have had people reaching out to me recently describing how he was like their second dad, because they were so comfortable around him. He knew what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and the tone to say it to make whoever he was around comfortable and happy.”