Isabella Brady

    Services have been scheduled for the celebration of the life of Isabella Brady, who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly Wednesday, April 18, at Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.
    Alaska Native Sisterhood services are scheduled 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 24, at the Alaska Native Brotherhood Hall, with cultural services scheduled 7 p.m., also at the ANB Hall.
    On Wednesday, April 25, services will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church followed by interment at Sitka National Cemetery.  A reception will follow at the ANB Hall.
    Isabella Grace (Sing) Brady (Yeidikook’aa, Kiks.adi, of the Point House) was born on Feb. 18, 1924, to Peter Sing and Jenny (Simpson) Sing. She grew up near what is now Sitka National Historical Park in the area known as “The Cottages.” She often regaled her family with stories of the struggles of that time, but did not let the tough times of her early life define her. Instead, she took to heart from her early life the teachings of her grandfather who raised her, Peter Simpson, known as the “Father of Alaska Native Land Claims and of the Alaska Native Brotherhood.” In the forefront of the teachings she held onto was the importance of education, a lesson she would later stress to her own children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
    At age 16, Isabella suffered the loss of her mother, whom she dearly loved. At this time, she met the woman who would become her lifelong mentor and friend, Louise Weeks. To Louise’s question of whether she could pray for her, she replied, “Go ahead. It can’t hurt anything.” After this point, she gave her life to Jesus Christ, an event which shaped the rest of her life. Prayer, tithing, and service to her church were central in her life, as was witnessing to people about her faith in God and the power of prayer.
    After graduating from Sheldon Jackson School, she attended Jamestown College in North Dakota. She would talk about how when she got off the train, the President of the college had come to greet the “little Eskimo girl from Alaska.”
    She briefly interrupted her schooling to join the U.S. Navy and became a Navy WAVE, answering the call to “free up a man for active duty.” Even at 5’1” she was on the starting six of the Western Navy WAVES Basketball team.
    She finished college on the GI bill, becoming one of the first Alaska Native women to earn a college degree.
    When she left Sitka, she used to say she would never return to Sheldon Jackson, never get married, and never have children. Upon her return to Sitka, she worked at Sheldon Jackson, married Bill Brady (1950), and had five children.
    Early in their marriage she would find herself grateful for her college degree when she had to support their family while Bill was hospitalized long-term for tuberculosis. She worked at Mt. Edgecumbe High School for 14 years in several capacities: as a social studies teacher, a counselor, and as the head of the dorms, in which position she started the Girls Honor Quarters.
    Even after she left MEHS, her family continued to host groups of students in their home for Sunday School and Sunday brunch. To this day, she is still loved by many of her students from the 1960s and ’70s from across the state who visited her during her recent eight-week radiation treatment for breast cancer in Anchorage.
    In 1974, she took advantage of federal grants available for Native education and started what is now known as the Sitka Native Education Program. Growing up in a household and in times when it was believed that assimilation was the best way to go about advancing Native rights, she did not have the benefit of knowing her culture. She started the program so that Native youth could learn about their culture and thereby gain the positive self-image that would enable them to pursue whatever goals they wished in their future. She always gave credit to the elders who shared their knowledge, and it was her vision to preserve the Tlingit songs, dances, stories, language, and traditions, which are now used by several dance groups in town and even throughout Southeast Alaska.
    Over the years, she served on many boards and committees: The Alaska Native Education Council, the Sheldon Jackson College Board of Trustees, American Association of Retired Persons, the Native American Consulting Committee for the Alaska Presbytery, as well as for the Synod of Alaska-Northwest.
    She served on Sitka Tribe of Alaska Tribal Council, SEARCH Board, and CCTHITA. She also served many terms as both Deacon and Elder in the Presbyterian Church. She served countless terms as President and Chaplain of the Alaska Native Sisterhood Camp No. 4.
    She began the Sitka Community Dinners for Thanksgiving and Christmas so that “people who didn’t have anywhere else to go would have somewhere to enjoy a meal.”
    Her many awards over the years include STA Tribal Citizen of the Year, Shee Atika Charlie Joseph Sr. Culture-Bearer Award, Tlingit and Haida Living Cultural Treasure Award, SAFV Honoring Women and Jamestown College Hall of Fame, among many others too numerous to list.
    Her family was of utmost importance to her, hosting family dinners for every holiday and family birthdays.
    She was preceded in death by her parents, Jenny and Peter Sing, brothers Henry and Sam Sing, sister Lucille Maxey, husband Bill Brady, grandson Marcus Brady and daughter Jennifer Brady.
    She is survived by children Barbara James, Ralph (Diana) Brady, Louise Brady, and Judy Brady,;adopted children James Swift, Eileen Gallagher, and Vicki D’Amico; grandchildren Dionne Jackson, Jeremy (Anita) Brady, Keely (Dale Tucker) James, Stella James, John Peter James, Steven Morales, Vanessa Morales, Jeromy Childress, Josh (Teresa Moses) Lawrence, Natasha (Chuck) McGill, Lakrisha Brady, Kevin Brady, Ricky (Megan Nesheim) Goodall, Duane Lindoff, Nicole Lindoff, and David Brady.
    Also surviving are great-grandchildren Christopher James, Lenny Tucker, Brittni James, Brentyn James, Annabell Gonzalez, Alicia Gonzalez, Alaina James-McCarr, Christeen Jackson, Cheyenne Jackson, Craig Jackson, Louisa Jackson, Isabella Jackson, William (Liam) Brady, Jacob Brady, Andrew Lawrence, Eli Lawrence, Ethan McGill, Ambrielle DeMann and Brittany Bean; nieces Phyllis Garrett of Fairbanks, Renee Swanson, Kerribeth Sing and Valerie Sing of Seattle, Mary (Steve) McPherson of Spokane, and Penney Elzey of Walla Walla, Wash.; and cousins Evelyn Johnson, Snyder Simpson, and Louis Simpson.
    Pallbearers will be Jeromy Childress, Joshua Lawrence, Kevin Brady, Marty Dundas, Leonty Williams, Randy Gamble, and William “Gig” Mork. Honorary pallbearers will be Natasha McGill, Lakrisha Brady, Gil Truitt, James Swift, Harold Jacobs, Gerry Hope, Ben Didrickson, Carol Brady, Emma Borbridge, Jude Reis, Patsy Aamodt, Sophia Porter, Maggie Gallin, Mabel Moy, Tanya Bonorden, former Gájaa Héen Dancers, and Presbyterian Church members.
    In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations and contributions to the 100-year anniversary of the Alaska Native Brotherhood.
    Cards and condolences may be sent to Ralph Brady P.O. Box 904 Sitka, Alaska.

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