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Cristene Vivian Bray Nee (Cris) Buelow

1950 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Cristene Vivian Bray Nee (Cris) Buelow Obituary
Cristene (Cris) Vivian Bray, nee Buelow

Redding, CA - Cris Bray ended her battle with triple-negative metastatic breast cancer on Sunday, June 3rd with her life partner, Neil, by her side. The fourteen-month struggle she mounted enabled her to enjoy numerous visits with her daughters and grandsons, celebrate her 45th wedding anniversary and, most significantly, welcome the arrival of her first granddaughter in January. As a wife, mother, grandmother, sister and sister-in-law, aunt, friend, neighbor, parent organizer and professional volunteer, Cris' kind spirit touched countless lives; her smile would simply light up the room.

Cris was born to Florence Alta Margerie, nee Niles, and Delmar Roy Buelow in Green Bay, Wisconsin on August 11, 1950. She attended Nicolet and St. Paul Lutheran grade schools, Washington Jr. High School (where she sat behind her future husband, Neil, in first period Algebra) and Green Bay East High School from which she graduated with honors in June 1968. Cris received a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh in 1972 and in August that same year she and Neil were married. After a year in Madison, Wisconsin, the couple located to Columbus, Ohio, where Neil took a position with Arthur Young & Company. Within eighteen months, they transferred to Milwaukee; eventually settling in Cedarburg in 1977. Daughters Mackenzie Alexis and Brianne Elizabeth were born in 1977 and 1979, respectively. In March 1984, Cris and the family found their way to San Jose where they would be joined by Hillary Brennen in 1991 and remained in the South Bay until Cris and Neil retired to Redding in 2005. Her retirement years were filled with golf (especially her hole-in-one), painting, travel (including six European river cruises), theater, wine tasting and enjoying relaxing times with her family and friends, including the Secret Society of Lunch Queens and Wild Women on Wine.

In 2010, Cris welcomed her first grandchild and would, forevermore, be known to the family as Oma. The Redding home became known as "Oma and Bumpa's House," a place the grandchildren longed to visit. Oma would always have ice cream for the grandsons; teaching them the proper way to lick the drips from around the cone; and she was endlessly entertained by their tireless laps around the kitchen or driveway. Creative Oma made traditions; such as, handmade Christmas stockings, magic growing jellybeans, and special paintings for each grandchild's bedroom. Much laughter was shared while swimming in the pool, learning from one another and enjoying each other. After learning of the impending arrival of her first granddaughter, Oma was determined to hold her in her arms. She was able to both treasure the newborn babe and watch her develop into a joyful infant full of laughs and smiles for Oma.

Cris is a beloved member of every community she joined. Although she utilized her degree while working with nursing homes and with the Psychiatric ward of a Columbus hospital and, later, as a substitute teacher in San Jose, Cris is first and foremost a volunteer. She could not help herself but to get involved with any organization with which her children were active. She organized Safety Town, the Cedar Creek Run and Kids on the Block with the Jaycettes in Cedarburg and was selected their Woman of the Year in 1981 and 1982; was President of the Almaden Gymnastics Boosters Club and Children's Playhouse of San Jose; served as Board member and manager for South San Jose SoftBall and was active as a PTA Board Member from grade school to high school. She was known as the Science Lady at Rachel Carson Elementary School in San Jose where she worked as an aide and led all students in science experiments, including setting up the school garden so urban students could actually see how familiar foods were grown. She shared her passion for painting by leading classes for grade school students at Los Alamitos in San Jose. When her youngest daughter began performing while at U-Prep and Shasta High School in Redding, Cris painted sets and created props for the productions. This sense of selfless responsibility, a trait both she and Neil share, lives on in her daughters as they navigate their own lives as parents and members of the greater community.

Of all her contributions, her most significant volunteer project was to be the Pink Ball Tournament. Shortly after her original cancer diagnosis and treatment in 2010, Cris was asked by the manager of The Golf Club Tierra Oaks in Redding to organize the Pink Ball Tournament for the benefit of local breast cancer organizations. For the next five years, October was Pink Ball month in her household and the presentation of the tournament became the culmination of an entire year of hard work by Cris and her board. Over the period the tournament ran, in excess of $60,000 was contributed to local cancer organizations.

Cris and Neil would like to thank Linda Montgomery for her unwavering help and support in Cris' eight-year fight with the disease. In addition, heartfelt thanks to the oncology nursing staffs at Mercy Hospital and UCSF Cancer Center for their outstanding care during the multiple treatments endured throughout these past fourteen months. Finally, thanks to the staff at Interim Healthcare; especially Amy, Ashley and Desiree who helped Cris and Neil through her final challenging weeks.

Cris is survived by Neil Eugene, her partner for nearly 50 years; their children Mackenzie Alexis (Neil Chazin), San Francisco, CA; Brianne Elizabeth (Jeran) Leymaster, Davis CA; and Hillary Brennan and her friend, Emery Hudson, San Francisco, CA.; their grandchildren: Orrin Delmar Leymaster, Clayton Eugene Leymaster, Noah Conner Chazin and Rebecca Joan Chazin; three brothers-in-law; four sisters-in-law; five aunts; multiple cousins and nine nieces and nephews.

Preceding Cris in death were her grandparents; parents and her sister, Connie Ann Kramer, nee Buelow, Lena Wisconsin.

A celebration of life will be announced at a future date. Interment will be the Pacific Ocean off the north shore of Kauai, one of Cris' favorite places in the world.

In lieu of flowers or other remembrances, Cris requests you consider a donation to charities in your local communities that aid the sick, the homeless or the battered.

A special angel has been born.
Published in Green Bay Press-Gazette on June 13, 2018
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