Longtime teacher, civic leader Jean Brazelton passes away

Jean S. Brazelton:
Date of Birth: January 24, 1931
Date of Death: December 19, 2016

Jean was born Jan. 24, 1931 in St. Paul, Minnesota. She and her brother, Dr. George Neil Sausen, were raised by their loving parents George, Sr. and Florence. Despite growing up during the Great Depression, Jean enjoyed many exciting activities, such as ice skating during the winter and canoeing in the summer. She delighted in her annual pilgrimages to camps in various states; she loved horseback riding, swimming in lakes, hiking, and cooking over an outdoor fire.

She graduated in 1952 from the College of St. Catherine, located in St. Paul, with a B.A. in English, and then she taught in a small farm town in southern Minnesota. In a bold move, she headed west to California in 1954, teaching high school English and Physical Education in San Bernardino and then in Whittier at California High School, and she later (when her children were older) took an English teaching position at St. Joseph High School in Lakewood.

In 1956 she traveled to Europe with a friend from Minnesota, enjoying an adventurous trip throughout many countries during her summer break, which foretold many more travel excursions in her future.  This “travel bug” was passed onto her children, and she always encouraged them to be open to new experiences.

She had met the love of her life, her husband Robert (Bob), at a Catholic Alumni Club dance, and they married and settled in Downey in 1957, eventually raising 6 wonderful children and 12 grandchildren and staying very active in the community.  Bob agreed to learn how to snow ski, which was a prerequisite before they tied the knot.

She ran a busy household, guiding her children in their various activities. She coached basketball teams, started a Great Books program at Our Lady of Perpetual Help School, and participated in her own book group for over 40 years.  

Jean demonstrated a strong commitment to community service, serving as a Downey Parks commission member, presiding over the Parish Council at O.L.P.H. Church, and doing charitable work for the Downey Soroptimist Club, a volunteer organization that seeks to improve the lives of women and girls.

She was an ideal teacher in both academics and in sports; utilizing her background, she helped her children navigate the waters of academia, often providing feedback on her children’s writing assignments.  In addition, she taught her children to ride bikes, to swim, to snow ski, to play tennis, and to ride horses.  She guided her children through their developmental years, encouraging them to value literature and theatre arts.  She even taught children at her kids’ school how to folk dance.

We will always remember her infectious and positive spirit, generous heart, and concern for others.  She made time in her busy schedule to counsel her children and friends, offering advice and listening to them.  Her loving nature will live on through her family and friends.

The funeral Mass and celebration of her life will be held on Friday, January 13, 2017, at 10:30 AM, at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 10727 Downey Avenue, Downey, CA 90241.  A reception will follow at Rio Hondo Country Club. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Downey Family YMCA. The Risher Mortuary website has Jean’s obituary and provides the opportunity to post a message of condolence.