Lincoln Pius X Catholic High School

Mary Elizabeth Brake Memorial Scholarship

Mary Elizabeth Brake was born Sept. 18, 1952, the first of eight children to Herb and Virginia Reese. Herb, a medical student, and Ginny, a teacher, enjoyed their beautiful first born girl while residing in Omaha, Neb. Before the family moved from Omaha to Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Denver, Colo., Mary enjoyed the addition of two sisters, Mary Martha (Pius X graduate) and Mary Margaret.

While in Denver the family grew, with the addition of two brothers and another sister, Herb Jr., Charles, and Mary Patricia. Mary’s fourth sister, Mary Ann was born in Fort Knox, Ken. where the family was stationed until 1963. As the eldest, Mary Elizabeth carried a lot of the responsibility in caring for her younger siblings, baby-sitting, entertaining and loving them.

Mary’s elementary school years constituted a change of venue approximately every eighteen months. She was schooled in eight different states. Mary always adjusted well to all the changes. She was a good student, liked to read, enjoyed music and loved to play the piano. While living in Fort Sill, Okla., Mary became an accomplished horseback rider. With her favorite horse Candy Date, Mary took home many ribbons and awards in dressage and jumping.

The family moved to Lincoln, Neb. where Mary entered Blessed Sacrament Elementary School. She went on to attend Pius X High School and graduated in 1970. Mary’s first year in college she studied music at Fontbonne in St Louis, Mo, followed by a semester as an exchange student in France. Shortly after she arrived back home from France her third brother, David (Pius X graduate), was born. Mary was now the eldest of eight children. Mary continued her education at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She joined Delta Delta Delta sorority and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education.

Mary delighted in her two sons, Nathan, born in 1974, and Kevin (Pius X graduate), born in 1976. Moving to Seward, Neb. Mary opened a preschool, called the Stone House, which is still a landmark there today. Moving back to Lincoln, Mary, with great enthusiasm, taught gifted children. She was involved with many community affairs and never missed any of the boys’ activities. She made a career change to real estate where she excelled in serving those in need of a home. A big surprise to Mary and a blessing was the birth of her daughter Elizabeth Bayley Brake. Mary and Gene loved each other dearly, their new daughter Bayley, Nathan, Kevin and their extended family and friends.

On June 20, 2008, Mary Elizabeth died suddenly in a tragic horse back riding accident in Beaver Creek, Colo., while on a family vacation. She is dearly missed by Gene, her children, mother and father, brothers and sisters and extended family and friends. Mary was a woman gifted to love others. All her life she embraced and cared for her children and everyone else’s children; she nurtured her family and supported her friends. The gift of God’s Divine Love expanding through Mary gave her the ability to clearly see people’s talents and abilities and support and nurture them – helping them to be the best people they could be. “As my wife, best friend and working partner, instead of taking credit for anything, with which she deserved, she always preferred to tell me how well I handled the challenging situations that came up in our life,” said her husband Gene.

“She preferred to be behind the scene and not in the limelight,” Gene said. “Whenever she saw a need she would fill it; she was a friend to everyone. She didn’t ask first how you were doing; she took action and filled the need, the void, soothed your tired mind or fixed the complication before you were aware she had seen the need or heard about the problem.”

“My wife was a supporter of Catholic education,” Gene said. “Mary continuously dedicated herself to the Pius X Foundation. She was committed to help in funding and supporting Catholic education for all those who had a desire to learn in an atmosphere that nourished the precepts of Christ’s teachings. Mary was all about service and caring for others. Her dynamic energy uplifted and soothed. But, if you asked her how she found time to do so much she would tell you the source of her unlimited supply of energy was a gift from God. Through service to others she walked with Christ and by doing so, powerful things happened; people and situations changed for the better. Mary Elizabeth Brake, was a woman of grace.”

Excerpts from student thank you letters

“Thank you very much for choosing me to be the recipient of this scholarship. I am very thankful and I wished that I was able to express my gratitude to you in person. When I read about Mary Elizabeth I felt sad, but happy and relieved for her because she is loved and she loved her dear family too. To me, Mary is a role model because of her acts of love and support while being humble simultaneously. I want to be like her, someone who embraces others because it is the right thing to do and not for recognition.

The reason why I am attending Pius X High School is because I wanted to stay close to my cousins who I don’t get to see often and my parents wanted me to grow in a holy and virtuous environment. As I am entering my sophomore year, I am planning to study things related to the medical field in college. To help achieve my dreams of being some sort of doctor, I will be joining the math club. I’m still in Boy Scouts and it’s nice doing service projects. My favorite school subjects are Science and Theology. This scholarship that I have received has helped me and my family by reassuring us a little more about the future.

In my family I wanted an older brother, but I am satisfied that I at least have a sibling. Mary was blessed with a lot of siblings and her siblings were blessed to have her in their family. I’m sure that she is looking out for her sons from heaven where she is eternally happy with God. I empathize with your family’s loss. I lost someone who was very close and precious to me in my family not long ago. I still feel the pain whenever I think about her death and the times when she would be there for the people in our family, but I keep telling myself that I will eventually reunite with her in heaven. I thank you again…and my God bless you and your family.”

– Mary Elizabeth Brake Memorial Scholarship recipient

“I would like to thank you for this scholarship…I am so blessed to have received it! It will help my family immensely. We are a family with 4 kids all going to Catholic schools, so a scholarship is a huge blessing and a burden lifted off of my parents’ shoulders! I love going to Pius X for so many reasons and some being that Pius X has given me the opportunity to grow in my faith and step out of my comfort zone. With this being said, I am involved in Prism Show Choir, Campus Ministry, Pius X Theatre Department, Pro-Life Club, etc. Balancing these activities, along with getting [my brother who also attends Pius X] to and from his activities has helped me certainly prioritize as well as gain more confidence in living my life according to God’s plan.

With my free time I enjoy hanging out with my family and friends, as well as cross-stitch. This last year I finished up my 4th summer of corn detasseling with a wonderful Christian-based company. My hope is to continue working with this authentic company as long as possible. It is hard work, but it also allows for me to focus more on my grades. [As I approach graduation], I will have to start deciding where I want to go to college and I know my grades may help with scholarships. I have been shooting for straight A’s as long as I can remember, but I am always stuck with one or two B’s. I am still pleased with these grades, and so I just keep trying for that someday of all A’s.

Some of my favorite subjects are Chemistry and Spanish, where were the best overall classes both with the teachers and the course materials. Currently I am thinking in college I would like to study Chemical engineering or perhaps nursing with a minor in Spanish. My family and I again want to say thank you for granting me this scholarship and I am so blessed to have received such a large sum of money to better my educational experience!”

– Mary Elizabeth Brake Memorial Scholarship recipient

mary elizabeth brake scholarships
Fund Purpose/Criteria
Scholarship for Pius X students with GPA of 3.25% and above
Established in 2008
Students Supported: 50

Donate to this scholarship by typing the fund name into the designation box on our donation form.

Pius X

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