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May She Rest in Peace - Sister Elizabeth Marie Brell

Posted 3/30/2021

Sister Elizabeth Marie Brell, 93, died at Ursuline Convent on March 29, 2021. 

Sister Elizabeth Marie Brell
Rachel Ann Brell

Throughout Sister Liz’s long life she was passionate about family, education, teaching, travel, art, and her many, many friends of all ages and backgrounds.

Sister Elizabeth Marie was born in 1927 in Bloomville, OH, the eldest daughter of Clarence G. and Bernice Fike Brell. She was one year and four days younger than her brother Tom, her oldest sibling, and to the day she died the two of them never quite figured out who was the sibling “boss”. She grew up in Maumee, OH, and graduated from Maumee High School. She entered the Ursuline Convent in 1950 from St. Joseph’s Parish, Maumee. Sister Elizabeth Marie received her Bachelor of Arts degree in 1949 from Mary Manse College and a Master of Arts degree in 1964 from The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. She took advanced courses at Marquette University, University of Cincinnati, University of San Francisco, and Marygrove College and through a program at Ohio University, studied art in Florence, Italy.

Sister Elizabeth Marie began her teaching career at St. Angela Hall and continued at Good Shepherd, Our Lady of Perpetual Help, St. John, and St. Charles schools in Toledo; St. Mary, Tiffin; and St. Rose, Perrysburg. She served as principal at St. Gerard, Lima, and at St. John and Our Lady of Perpetual Help. She taught Art at Central Catholic High School. Sister Elizabeth Marie served on the Toledo Diocesan Liturgical Commission and was a co-founder of the Toledo Diocesan Elementary Principals’ Association.

Leaving the education field after 32 years, Sister Elizabeth Marie became a Licensed Practical Nurse, spending 17 years at the former Riverside Hospital and St. Charles Hospital (Toledo), where she especially loved working second or third shift in the nursery so she could rock the newborns. When Sister Elizabeth Marie retired from nursing, she pursued a variety of interests, primarily in art. She drew, painted, and made note cards (sometimes on paper she made). Her love for art began while she was in late grade school, when she took art lessons at the Toledo Museum of Art on Saturday mornings. Many years later she enrolled in a pottery course, soon becoming an accomplished potter. She loved these new mediums of clay, porcelain and stoneware, as well as the new friends she made. One particular piece she created, a “dwelling place” designed to replicate an African hut, was one of two pieces, chosen from among 50, to be exhibited at the Toledo Museum of Art. She made hundreds of bowls, platters, vases, and other primarily utilitarian pieces – selling much of her work each summer at The University of Toledo’s Art on the Mall, but also graciously sharing her work with her extended family. Today these cherished pieces are still in use or on display at most of her nieces’ and nephews’ homes.

Sister Liz loved to travel, especially in Western Europe, but was always up for a road trip anywhere, either driving alone or with friends. A special destination for many years was Muskegon, MI to visit her sister Pat and family. As she aged (and shrank in height) she had to sit on several cushions to see over the steering wheel, but it was a sad day when she had to give up her car keys.

In her later years, Sister Elizabeth Marie was chairman of the Ursuline Center Building Committee, oversaw the community’s vast collection of artwork, and enjoyed sharing her knowledge of that artwork and its artists with others. With her fine eye for design, Sister Elizabeth Marie decorated the Ursuline Center lobby and chapel throughout the year.

Sister Elizabeth was preceded in death by her parents; sisters, Mary Louise “Pat” (Ronald, deceased) Byersmith and Barbara “Poochie” (Peter, deceased) Weston; brother, R. Michael “Mike” (Ursula, deceased) Brell; sister-in-law, Joanne Seidel Brell; and niece, Rebecca Brell Heater. She is survived by her brother, Thomas “Tom”; numerous loving nieces and nephews, great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews, with more on the way; and her Sisters and Associates of the Ursuline Community.

Sister Elizabeth Marie donated her body to The University of Toledo, College of Medicine.

A memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorials may be made to the Ursuline Convent, 4045 Indian Road, Toledo, OH 43606. One may leave a tribute on the Ursuline Sisters of Toledo’s Facebook page.