Mary Ellen Brandell
1933 - 2010
Mount Pleasant, MI
Mary Ellen Brandell

Oct. 12, 1933-Sept. 24, 2010

Mary Ellen Brandell died from leukemia at her Mt. Pleasant home, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2010, surrounded by her children. She was 76 years old.

Her husband Dick Brandell, her brother Tom Sweeney, and her parents Joseph and Elizabeth Sweeney preceded her.

Charles R. Lux Family Funeral Home, 2300 S. Lincoln Road, will hold visitations on Monday, Sept. 27, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Tuesday, Sept. 28, from 2 to 8 pm. Mary Ellen's funeral Mass will be celebrated at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 29, with the Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, presiding.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to two funds Mary Ellen established at the Mt. Pleasant Area Community Foundation to continue her legacy: the "Dick and Mary Ellen Brandell Family Hospice House Fund" and the "Mary Ellen Brandell Access To Recreation Fund."

Mary Ellen touched the lives of thousands of people, but few knew this remarkable woman in her many incarnations.

Mary Ellen was the oldest of five children, but many assumed she was the youngest, not from mere appearance but from the vitality that flowed from her whenever she met you, or whenever she assumed a new civic duty.

She served as Vice-Mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Dean and Vice-Provost of Central Michigan University, and member or director of a score of committees and charities, most recently with the Isabella County Sesquicentennial Committee, Woodland Hospice, Access to Recreation, and a key contributor to the Elizabeth Hursch Story, the history of the first permanent settler in Mt. Pleasant.

As the inspiration behind many local service projects over the last four decades including the Volunteer Center at CMU and a founding gubernatorial appointee of the Michigan Community Service Commission, Mt. Pleasant honored her as a Citizen of the Year. She made her last public appearance at a Rotary Club luncheon meeting several weeks ago, in keeping with her commitment to community service.

While she devoted herself to local causes, the world also claimed her as a citizen. She traveled to China and Japan, Germany and France, Ireland and Italy, Slovakia and the Netherlands, and places in between. Both the City of Mt. Pleasant and CMU engaged her to serve as their ambassador to sister cities and university affiliates overseas. Friends she made in Europe, Africa, and other parts of the world often visited her in Mt. Pleasant.

Mary Ellen was a visionary without limits. After the birth of the seventh of her extraordinary children – daughters Mary Elizabeth Curtiss, Anne Marie Drolet, Kathleen Mumford, and Carol O'Connell, and sons Joseph, Richard and James Francis – she followed the dreams her talents demanded. She returned to school and attained her masters, specialist and doctorate degrees, then served as an administrator and professor at CMU for nearly forty years.

Additionally, she and her husband Dick started and managed Allied Health Services, a local communication disorders therapy practice.

Mary Ellen revered her ancestors and kept memories of them alive for her descendants, but she also lived for tomorrow. Before her leukemia became critical, she had outlined a new book she planned to write and made arrangements for her next trip to Germany, her mother's homeland to see her relatives once again.

She enjoyed the moment – a grandchild's high school graduation, a bargain at an outlet mall, a well-written novel, the acquisition of a special item for one of her many collections, or a laugh, often at herself. She enjoyed the almost daily delight of a letter or visit from a school principal or teacher among the hundreds of former students she had mentored.

Businesswoman, licensed speech therapist, teacher, spiritual leader, civic leader, political activist – these and other titles would also accurately describe her. But she would identify herself first as a mother and grandmother, though she was foremost a devoted wife, who selflessly cared for her husband at home for many years as his health declined prior to his death in 2004.

A large extended family adored her as their matriarch, its center of gravity. And as much as her friends and colleagues will grieve the loss of Mary Ellen, to her family she is irreplaceable.

Each holiday her seven children, fifteen grandchildren, her brothers Pat, Joe and Jim and their families, and other relatives would meet at Mary Ellen and Dick Brandell's home on Chippewa Street. When it became clear that Mary Ellen would not survive her cancer, one of her grandchildren asked, "What will happen to Christmas?"

To send a condolence to the family or share a story, please visit
To plant trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published by Morning Sun from Sep. 26 to Sep. 28, 2010.
No memorial events are currently scheduled.
To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Funeral services provided by:
Add a Message

Not sure what to say?

5 Entries
I am just learning of Mrs. Brandell's passing today and my heart is heavy. Back in 1977 as a young woman, she believed in me and hired me as a secretary in her office, when I could only type 13 words a minute! I don't know what she saw, but over the years I came to think of her as a mother. She was my mentor, my colleague and most dear to me, a friend. I believe that I have become the teacher, mother, wife and community member that I have by her example.

Her presence will be sorely missed by many. God bless the family as they go through these times without her. I know she put you first in her life, and because of that you are very blessed.

And to you Mary Ellen, I say thank you.
Chris Fisher
July 17, 2011
My deepest condolences to the entire Brandell family. I am very proud to say that Mary Ellen was my mentor at CMU as I studied to be a Speech and Language Pathologist. She is the reason I have had a fabulous 30 year career of helping others with communication. I have fond memories of many of her children including making pew bows for Mary Beth's wedding in my office at Moore Hall. Mrs B., my angel on earth, now rests in the arms of the angels in heaven. Her life will serve as an example for all of us. Sending prayers, good thoughts and strength to all of you.
God Bless You.
Jo Ann Langley (Dupuis)
January 19, 2011
To that wonderful Lady's family Jeannine & I offer our condolences. While I attended Sacred Heart Academy Mary Ellen came from Detroit and became out clasmate. A Classy Lady does not fully address her make up. She was a "fire bug" and so eloquent. When I left in my sophmore hear to go to St. Francis in Traverse City I always tried to contact Mary Ellen when I would come back to Mt. Pleasant.

As was mentioned in the obituary she cannot be replaced.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to her entire family and extended family.

Tim & Jeannine Kennedy
Henderson, NV
Tim & Jeannine Kennedy
October 4, 2010
Mary Ellen lived by example...
She shared her life through her willingness to touch the community in so many ways. We should all pay it forward in her memory. She will be greatly missed.
My condolences to her family.
Lucinda Clark
October 1, 2010
What a class act! Thanks for making my life better Mary Ellen.
Heather Harris
September 30, 2010
Showing 1 - 5 of 5 results