Marilyn Lessly Brace, 82, of Manasquan, passed away on May 27. She died peacefully at home surrounded by her children.
Marilyn was born on April 9, 1935 in Osage, Iowa, the daughter of Mabel Hailey and Stiles Lessly. She grew up in Osage, Iowa, and DeKalb, Illinois. She also lived in Indiana, New York City and was a resident of New Jersey since 1961. She attended Indiana University School of Music for four years as an organ major. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in music in 1957, and then attended Union Theological Seminary in New York City where she earned her master’s degree in sacred music in 1960. It was during her time in New York that she met her future husband, the Rev Charles R. Brace.
The two were married on July 1, 1961 in Manhattan, New York City, at the Church of the Resurrection. She was a church organist for over 60 years and played at many Episcopal churches in Monmouth County including St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Keyport, Holy Communion in Fair Haven, St. Mary’s by the Sea in Pt. Pleasant Beach and most recently for Christ Episcopal Church in Middletown. She retired from this last position in 2016. For several years she was a member of the Shrewsbury Chorale and also secretary of the American Guild of Organists – Monmouth County. She also worked for the Telos Corp from 1987-2001.
An avid Yankee baseball fan, she helped cheer the Yankees on Sundays at the ballpark or at home while listening to them on the radio. She had a great love of classical music, opera and church music. The radio was always tuned in to classical stations. Marilyn touched thousands of lives with her musical talents. Her knowledge of music, its history and its deeper meanings, was unmatched. Besides the organ, she also played the piano and the flute and had an exceptional singing voice. Other interests and loves included lace curtains, crossword puzzles, chocolate, coffee, gardening, opera, TV shows Downton Abby, Call the Midwife and Dancing with the Stars.
She was predeceased by her mother and father, Mabel Hailey and Stiles Lessly; and her husband, Charles Brace. She is survived by her four children, Christine Chai, Carole Brace, Daniel Brace and Jeffrey Brace; three grandchildren, Jacqueline Chai, Sebastian Chai and Gabrielle Chai; and her brother, James A. Lessly.
Services will be held at Christ Episcopal Church in Middletown on June 17 at 11 a.m. Her ashes will be interred in the Christ Church memorial garden with a gathering after the service in the church undercroft. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the Christ Episcopal Church choir.
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