Let the family know you care by sharing this tribute.
Mother, wife, daughter, sister, dancer, swim instructor, synchronized swimmer, friend, singer, and community volunteer, our beloved Harriet Merle (Chaskel) Brantley passed away Sunday, October 16, following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.
Harriet was predeceased by her parents (Merle and Walter A. Chaskel), her husband James Edward Brantley, her brother, Walter B. Chaskel, her sister, Rose Chaskel, and her son, Steve Brantley. Survivors include her sons, Jamie Brantley, and Paul Brantley, daughter, Felicia Brantley Stanford, son-in-law Ronnie Stanford grandchildren Jamie and Jesse Stanford, and great-grandchildren Nate Shultz, Tinley, and Piper Williford as well as sisters-in-law Jacqueline Chaskel and Catherine Gericke, and nieces, nephews, and cousins.
Harriet was born on September 2, 1932, in Michigan City, Indiana, the youngest of parents who had three children in two years and a day. By the time Harriet was in the eighth grade the family had moved multiple times causing her to attend thirteen schools prior to a pivotal move by the family to Washington, D.C., where their father worked for the War Production Board. Harriet witnessed history in the making by personally seeing the entourage of President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Joseph Stalin entering Dumbarton Oaks for one of their wartime conferences as well as later being an observer to what she recalled as the emotionally draining funeral procession of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
The family’s post-war move to Long Island enhanced her early love of music, dancing, and sports, particularly swimming. Those early interests catapulted a career that included being a member of a synchronized swim team that toured South America and later was a dancer and singer in New York City. It was there that she met her husband, fellow entertainer Ed, who was a professional musician and trumpet player. After they moved to his home state of Georgia, she and Ed combined their musical talents as they raised their four children while he served several schools as band director, including many years at Tubman Junior High School.
Following their move to Augusta, Harriet taught several generations of children to swim and found great solace in her faith and in the Episcopal Church. She was a member of the Church of Good Shepherd Choir for 60+ years and also served on the staff of the Episcopal Day School. She retired from the Georgia Department of Vocational Rehabilitation as office manager. Harriet sang with the Augusta Choral Society for 20 years and served on its board of directors and held one term as president. She was also active in the Augusta Players and Storyland Theater.
Harriet volunteered so relentlessly during retirement that it was said she worked harder during this time than when she was employed. She was a loving friend and mother to countless people.
A memorial service will take place Thursday, October 27 at 6 pm at the Church of Good Shepherd, 2230 Walton Way, followed by a committal of her ashes and a reception in the parish hall.