Obituaries: Eva Brett Church, 1930-2022 | Obituaries | Seven days
Eva Brett Church, 91, beloved mother of Shauna, John and Penelope, died on Friday August 12, 2022 at Craftsbury Community Care Center, her Vermont home of four years – a home she frequently said felt very blessed to have found.
Born in Claremorris, County Mayo, Ireland, in 1930, the daughter of Ellen Forde Brett and Mr. Antony “Anto” Brett, Eva grew up on the family estate, surrounded by mountains, trees, walls stone and sheep she loved so much – and elephants. , for his father allowed them to graze on the grounds of Carradoyne whenever the circus passed!
An adventurer at heart, mum traveled to London to train as a nurse at St. John and St. Elizabeth Hospital, where she won the coveted John Lamb Award for Excellence in Nursing, the first of the many awards won during his career to help people in need. . After meeting our dad in the ER there (he was a London bobby at the time), they immigrated to Alberta, Canada, where dad worked on the design/build of the DEW system, and mom worked with indigenous people, an honor she would often recount in our childhood. After returning to England to have Shauna, the three moved to New York and New Jersey, where John and Penelope were born. Dad’s career took the family to Houston, Texas in 1964 and much later to Austin.
She was a wonderful mother, immersing us early in culture at Houston Jones Hall, summer programs at museums, one-on-one outings, and anything she could think of to “broaden our minds.” We were introduced to Scrabble as toddlers and heard a constant refrain of “Look it up!” when we asked what something meant. On family trips through Texas, she researched local history and forced a stop at all historical markers so we understood the local culture and perspective. (As we got older, we nicknamed them “hysterical markers.” Mom pretended she wasn’t amused, but in fact she was.) She celebrated Christmas like no other, filling — to the brim and over- beyond – stockings as big as we are, articles, refined for each, some sent from Ireland by Gran or Auntie Mary. She could sometimes confuse who liked dark chocolate and who didn’t; we would just laugh and say, “This must be for you,” and we would change.
Watching Mom get carried away by a Mozart French horn concerto was pure joy.
Always mission-oriented, in her 50s, Eva went back to school and earned her master’s degree in health administration at St. Edward’s University in Austin. She worked to improve healthcare access and support through programs at Holy Cross and Seton Hospitals and created relationships that she maintained until her death.
A strong advocate for the elderly, Eva became the first state ombudsman for central Texas retirement homes, before helping to create and implement groundbreaking programs such as Austin Groups for the Elderly (now AGE of Central Texas), North Central Caregivers, Drive-A -Senior, and the AGE Caregiver Resource Center. She served for a long time on the Central Texas Interagency Council (now Area Agency on Aging) and encouraged collaboration among like-minded programs. Working with Texas Adult Protective Services and the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, she introduced validation therapy to Texas and became an expert in supporting Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Ironically, it is Alzheimer’s disease that will claim its independence and it is her own daughter who will benefit from the support programs for caregivers that she helped to set up. It was mum’s expertise — and that of her aged care colleagues — that made us realize that Craftsbury Community Care Center was mum’s solution when she could no longer stay at home. Call it serendipity, call it karma, call it divine hand – we just know that a very worried woman walked through the doors of the health center and immediately felt safe. “I’ll be safe here,” she said. And she was.
We are forever grateful to the wonderful staff and volunteers at Craftsbury Community Care Center for their compassion and commitment to active and dignified sustained lives for seniors. Mom spent her last four years in joy and contentment, among trees, music, friends and fun, and her last days with the care and support of skilled people who loved her. And that’s exactly how it should be. We can’t thank you enough.
Eva was predeceased by her parents and her beloved brother, Hugh Brett. She is survived by her three children, Shauna Church of Brooklyn, NY, John Church of Austin, Texas, and Penelope Doherty of Craftsbury, Vt.; his sisters, Mary (Eamonn) Murphy of Templecarrig and Dublin, Ireland, and Julie (Brian) Chisholm of Watford, UK; his beloved niece and nephews, Paul, Brian and Rory Murphy from Ireland, Joanna Brett from NY, David Brett from UK and Phillip and Richard Chisholm from UK; many loving cousins and childhood friends, including Imelda Vahey Bush from the UK; special “girls” Patty Schick Gannon from Boston and Deirdre Darrouzet from Austin, Texas; and friends and colleagues too numerous to mention, but who all loved him and helped us so much over the past 10 years as we navigated this difficult disease.
A memorial service is scheduled for August 31 (weather permitting) at Craftsbury Community Care Center for residents, staff and friends. Eva will be buried in the family plot in Ireland in September, followed by a memorial mass in Austin, Texas in October. Please make memorial contributions to the Craftsbury Community Care Center Building Fund, 1784 E. Craftsbury Rd., Craftsbury, VT, 05826, in honor of the porch sitting Mom loved and to help others who need safe and supportive support. worthy, or make a contribution to the senior care organization of your choice.
Thank you mom for the arts, the music, the laughter and above all the love. We miss you so much but are grateful that you left in peace and are now with Grandma and Uncle Hugh.