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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.
Gerrie Saxon says
Harriet and Ed Brantley became close friends of Ken and Gerrie Saxon in 1961, when Ed and Ken were band directors in schools in the Augusta, Georgia area. Harriet and I continued that special relationship till now…61 years! I am sure our respective children will continue that “family ”
connection for some time to come.
I shall always be grateful for that long time friendship Harriet and I enjoyed, and though we seldom saw each other “in person,” we maintained that “familial togetherness” through those many years.
I pray Harriet’s children and grandchildren will know the love and comfort of our Heavenly Father…Harriet’s Heavenly Father…as they become accustomed to life here without their dear Mother and Grandmother.
Robert H. Ackerman, Jr. says
I have many great childhood memories of Mrs. Brantley when I visited my childhood friend, Paul, who lived down the street from me in Augusta. She was always interested in others and was a special person that you won’t forget after you get to know her. I have always thought very highly of her and offer my heartfelt condolences to her family. She was simply a lovely and extraordinary person!
Nancy Overbey says
Deepest Sympathy to Jamie and his family in the loss of their mother. One of the biggest sadnesses in life is when we lose a parent or child. Your Mom was a wonderful person, and Jamie, I must say, you inherited her comedic ways!
Barbara Feldman says
Harriet was my dear friend for over 37 years She had so many talents. She taught my children and grandchildren – and thousands more -how to swim. As our Storyland Theatre House Manager for many years, she made sure hundreds of thousands of children were seated on time for school shows. She was always there for her best friend, Peggy Williams, during her own Altzheimers battle. Harriet was witty, charming, intelligent and kind with a great sense of humor. We all adored her and miss her.