Lost & Found

Teen Tragedy Brings New Meaning to Professor’s Memoir

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But in the end, Retief and Brandon found the strength to reveal the true extent of their abuse—Retief, through writing, and Brandon, through the challenge he set forth in his suicide note. Brandon asked his family and friends to spread the word about the devastating effects of bullying, and his call has been answered.

A website for the mission was established soon after his death, and Simpson found herself becoming a public speaker. She had a speaking engagement at Susquehanna this spring when the Department of Music’s Opera Studio presented three benefit performances of Die Fledermaus (“The Bat”), a comic opera by Johann Strauss. Ticket proceeds were donated to the Brandon E. Bitner Memorial Scholarship, established by Brandon’s family to support the talents of Susquehanna music majors.

“For me, it kind of keeps Brandon’s love of music alive, but it’s also helping another student whose dream is music,” Simpson says.

Retief also supported that dream by donating the proceeds from his latest book launch, the paperback release of The Jack Bank, to the scholarship fund. Simpson says she was “surprised and grateful” for Retief’s support. “I look at Glen and I think, ‘He’s such a success story.’ And I wish all kids could be like that: pull through it and be successful, and not let the bullying hold them back.”

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