I have begun the process of posting many photos of Sigrid taken over the years.
- Photo Album 1
- Photo Album 2
- Family Reunion (May 2016 – last photos)
- Wedding Photos
- Sigrid Slideshow (these were shown at the wake)
- Celebration of Life – Breezy Point, August 4, 2016
Sigrid Brandt Frawley
Before I can talk about my sister Sigrid, I have to tell you a little bit about our Aunt Anna.
Aunt Anna, my father’s eldest sister, was … Amazing. When Sigrid Anderson Brandt, my grandmother died at an all too early age, Anna selflessly served her father and family by caring for her three brothers, the youngest of whom was still in elementary school. This remarkable woman would put her life on hold for others and only when everyone was taken care of, would complete college – at a time when few women attended college – and go on to completed her master’s degree and begin her career as a medical social worker. An occupation devoted to helping others.
In the years that followed, Anna would accomplish much, travel the world, eventually marry the man of her dreams and settle in California.
Anna loved music, played the piano and sang in the choir at Riverside Church in upper Manhattan. The Brandt children all witnessed their first Broadway show and ballet at Lincoln Center through the endless kindness and generosity of our Aunt Anna. She was particularly devoted to my sister Sigrid, perhaps, I dare say, Sigrid being her favorite, and even arranged for Sigrid to take piano lessons from Anna’s friend Bridie (Bride-dee).
Anna was the family historian, the catalyst, mender of fences, communicator of news and deliverer of Christmas presents. She attended all family events and family emergencies and served as a quite an excellent babysitter in a pinch.
Although not a big sports fan, it was family legend that during a particular World Series season in the 1950s Aunt Anna’s presence on the sofa at 201 Clinton Avenue was reportedly THE reason that the favored team won. I might add that the “Anna magic” only worked when she strategically placed her feet under the sofa seat cushions.
Anna would outlive two of her brothers and remained the glue in the family well into her eighties. Sigrid and Anna remained close over the years and it was Sigrid who would be there when Anna decided it was her time to leave us. Sigrid comforted Anna in her last days, much like Anna had done with her mother.
My sister Sigrid was our generations’ Aunt Anna. Brilliant, fearless, headstrong, devoted, loyal, independent, determined, loving, fun-loving, giving and perhaps the most generous person I’ve ever known. A prolific note taker with a steel-trap memory, Sigrid could recall all the details, dates, and particulars of every event and experience – even to the end. She remembered all the names of the people she encountered…the nurses and aides that cared for her, calling each by their first names.
Sigrid was optimistic and future oriented. There was not much that could disturb her. She was a fighter and fought valiantly to stay alive, convinced until the end that she was going to beat cancer. She told us just the other day that she had never been afraid of the disease or of dying.
I could tell you many other stories about our sister Sigrid. The love and devotion she had for her husband Chris. Her love of travel and visiting new places, the book clubs, and the many parties and celebrations. I could tell you about Weight Watchers, the Stillman School 5k, ski trips to North Conway, NH and bicycle races around Manhattan Island. I could tell you about her work on the Parish Counsel, being a lector here at St. John’s Church, the many community groups and organizations she supported, the local food pantry, AL-ANON and her political aspirations.
She was most proud of being listed on the same ballot with Hillary Clinton during the recent 2016 New Jersey Primaries.
I could tell you about family vacations to Point O’Woods, sailing with Aunt Bev and Uncle Dick and her friends from the SEAS sailing club. I could tell you about the fun trips with Sharon-the-Nurse visiting Chris Frawley’s sisters and brothers in Florida. I could tell you about the, many, many wonderful neighbors and devoted friends Sigrid had – many of whom are here and nearly all of whom reached out to help her in the final months.
We could talk about Breezy Point, warm days on the beach with Dickie and Barbara and Kevin and Peggy; the nieces and nephews. Christmas Eve with Uncle Al Smith dressed as Santa – “Santa’s gotta split, kids.” Our stepbrother Christopher who has been a solid support, head chef and bartender. I could mention our sister Mary Britta who recently pulled things together to sell her condo in Oregon and is moving ahead with her new life.
And while my sister was many things to many people, above all, Marcella Sigrid Bridget Brandt Frawley was a teacher.
Sigrid, came into the world a blue eyed blond pixie. Beautiful and athletic, she loved baseball as a child and enjoyed family “rides” to Prospect Park to hit the ball around with her brother, sister and dad. She was a most devoted Mets fan, and for her 60th birthday purchased a monogram Mets jersey with the number 60.
She was also a devoted Jets fan and Giants fan, often obtaining tickets to treat friends and family to NFL games; the tailgating party included.
With grace and beauty, she completed high school, playing on the basketball team, performing in the high school drama club and competed on the St. Angela Hall Academy debate team. She would continue her acting activities in college and beyond, into local community theatre either as an actor or benefactor. Being elected president of The Chapel Players at St. Joseph’s College was one of her prized accomplishments.
Like many children, Sigrid loved to “play school.” But I think it was probably in seventh or eighth grade that Sigrid decided she would become a teacher. She excelled at her craft and was privileged to earn a coveted teaching position at the Dillon Center at Saint Joseph’s College upon completion of her bachelors. She would later go on to teach kindergarten in Farmingdale, LI and eventually in Tenafly, NJ. In addition to her bachelors in Early Childhood Education from St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, she earned two master’s degrees.
Over the many years, Sigrid taught hundreds, perhaps thousands of young children giving them the tools they needed to succeed in school and in life.
At her retirement from Stillman School a few years ago her colleagues shared and reflected on the tremendous impact she had had on them and her students. Recently, her last kindergarten class graduated from fifth grade and honored her for her service to them. Sigrid very much wanted to be there for that event, but was too sick to attend. But Sharon the Nurse recorded the event for Sigrid and we played it for her just before she left us.
Among the recollections, one boy remembered how Mrs. Frawley would play the piano as the class left at the end of the day, and other lad recalled how when he went to the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Ave. and saw Mrs. Frawley marching in the parade. “When she saw me she ran over and gave me a big hug and a kiss.” That little boy and his mother came to the wake last night to say good-bye to his teacher, Mrs. Frawley.
Sigrid also made it her mission to prepare future teachers, teaching pre-service teachers at Iona College and, most recently at Montclair State University. She was a demanding, yet caring teacher to all her students. Tough, but fair. To the end, she tried her hardest to help each learner be the best that they could be. No doubt her good sense and teaching skills will influence the lives of children for decades to come.
Sigrid LOVED teaching and was always proud to tell people she met about her vocation. Indeed, on her last trip to Memorial Sloan Kettering, as we were in the waiting room, there was a young boy about five years old watching and listening with headphones to a video on his mother’s iPhone. The little boy, unaware of the loudness of his voice, was singing along with the video making up the words and dancing to the tune. In the otherwise stressed and tense atmosphere of the chemotherapy waiting room, this little imp lit up the room with his antics bringing smiles to all.
Sigrid looked to the man sitting opposite from her and said, “I’m a retired kindergarten teacher. They do things like this at his age.”
Months ago, Sigrid insisted that she knew it was her mission to keep teaching. It was her essential motivation to live. She firmly believed that it was God’s plan that she remain on this earth to teach.
When she finally realized the time had come to stop the battle, I told her how much I loved her.
I told her that she was the GREATEST teacher I had ever known; that I had learned so much from her.
However painful it is to reflect upon this, it is clear to me that Sigrid was correct, it IS God’s plan that she continue to teach. But just not in the same way she had imagined.
In God’s plan, Sigrid has been called to teach us all about how to live our lives. She taught us this every day of her life, and will continue to teach us this in the future, just as God has intended.
Mrs. Frawley has been teaching us the most important lesson in life.
That lesson is to selflessly take care of and to love each other.
In the words of St. John:
John 13 – Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, you have love for one another.”
I only hope and pray that each one of you who were taught this lesson from Mrs. Frawley will practice this every day.
God bless you all, and as our sister Sigrid enters eternal life, may God bless her and keep her. May perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace.
SIGRID B. FRAWLEY (nee Brandt), 64, of Woodcliff Lake, NJ passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family and friends on Monday, July 4, 2016.
Beloved wife of the late Franklyn “Chris” Frawley. Dear sister of John Brandt of Augusta, ME and Mary Brandt of Portland, OR. Also survived by step-brothers; Kevin Smith and his wife Peggy, Richard Smith and his wife Barbara and Christopher Smith. Cherished aunt of Jennifer, Allison, Emily, Kevin, Tom, Brian, Katie, Michael and the late Meghan.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Sigrid graduated with a BA in Child Study at St. Joseph’s College (NY) and went on to earn a MS in Elementary Education at Fordham University and a MS in School Administration from Iona College.
Sigrid was a beloved Kindergarten Teacher at the Stillman School in Tenafly, NJ for 26 years before retiring in 2011. Since 2007, Sigrid was Adjunct Instructor of Early Childhood Education and Literacy Education at Montclair State University.
She has been a parishioner of St. John the Baptist R. C. Church since 1991 and has served on the Parish Council and as a Lector. Sigrid was active in the community and local government, working with various groups in Woodcliff Lake including the Helping Hands Food Pantry, Woodcliff Lake Senior Association and SEAS National.
Sigrid’s family and friends would like to thank the doctors and staff at Memorial Sloan Kettering and Mount Sinai Hospital for their compassionate care and on-going support. In particular, we would like to thank Diane Reidy Lagunes, MD and Laura Boucai, MD at MSK for their extraordinary support and care.
Funeral Mass 10 AM on Saturday, July 9, 2016 at St. John the Baptist R. C. Church, Hillsdale, NJ.
Visitation 5-9 PM on Thursday and Friday at the Robert Spearing Funeral Home, Inc., 155 Kinderkamack Road, Park Ridge, NJ. rsfhi.com.
Interment in Christ the King Cemetery, Franklin Lakes, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Sigrid may be made to your favorite charity.