Ethel McBrayer, lover of learning, Wildcats, dies at 99

kward1@herald-leader.comJune 3, 2013 

Ethel McBrayer sat with her son, Terry, at a Kentucky home game in 2010. Mrs. McBrayer had been a Rupp Arena fixture for years.

MARK CORNELISON | STAFF

Ethel May Brown McBrayer was 99 years old, but she read three books a week, had been taking harmonica lessons and cheered for the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball team at every home game.

Mrs. McBrayer died Sunday in Lexington.

"She never stopped learning," said her son, Lexington attorney Terry McBrayer. "Her mind never stopped.

"For years, we talked at 8 every night," he said. "We talked about Egypt and North and South Korea and the European conflicts."

She loved living at Sayre Christian Village, her son said, but her one quibble was that there were "too many old people" who wanted to talk about their aches and pains, while she was interested in politics and issues.

"She was a fascinating little lady that influenced lots of people," Terry McBrayer said.

Mrs. McBrayer was a longtime resident of Greenup, a school teacher who advanced to principal at Greenup High School.

She served on a number of boards and was active in various education efforts, including serving as an inaugural member of the Jesse Stuart Foundation, which works to preserve the legacy of the late writer and educator.

Stuart taught Mrs. McBrayer in high school, said Mrs. McBrayer's daughter, Judy Campbell of Frankfort.

After moving to Lexington in her later years, Mrs. McBrayer stayed active and continued to help others.

Campbell said she gave her mom a wool coat for Christmas, and Mrs. McBrayer gave it to someone who didn't have one.

"She was still encouraging the cooks at her retirement facility to get their GED," Terry McBrayer said.

In May, when Chrysalis House honored her with a Mother of the Year award at its second annual Mother's Day luncheon, Mrs. McBrayer delivered a 10-minute speech, complete with Bible references, Campbell said.

"There was not a sound in the room," she said.

But Campbell said her mom was never one to trumpet her accomplishments.

Last year, Mrs. McBrayer was honored by the Kentucky Assisted Living Facilities Association with its statewide Lifetime Achievement Award for people in assisted living facilities.

Campbell recalled her mother saying, "Don't tell anybody around here; I don't want 'em to be jealous."

Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at Greenup Christian Church in Greenup. Funeral services will begin at 3 p.m.

Wright's Funeral Home in Greenup is in charge of arrangements.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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