Mary L. Brylowski

Mary L. Brylowski

Mary Louise Brylowski, bibliophile, world-traveler, educator, and bonafide spitfire, passed away January 6, 2017 after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s.

Mary was born in 1937 to Amy and Wellington Lewis in Orchard, Iowa and grew up there along with her brothers Jim and Bob. After graduating from Osage High School in 1954, Mary left for Grinnell College. Grinnell was a transformative time for Mary, and she would often talk of her time there. Mary made it a point to attend as many class reunions as she could.

After college, Mary moved to Michigan, purchased ‘Sir Gallahad’ her Triumph TR3, and began her teaching career in Battle Creek. It was during this time that Mary met her future husband Arthur Brylowski, when they both raced cars in the local sports car circuit. Ice racing on Gun Lake was something they both enjoyed, even after Mary intentionally dumped Art’s car into a snowbank after a disagreement one afternoon. Mary and Art were married in 1961 and moved to Alamo Township.

After spending several years home with her children, Mary returned to teaching at Alamo Elementary where she taught third grade for Otsego Public Schools for over 20 years. Mary loved teaching and was always looking for new ways to bring the best from her students. She was instrumental in starting local participation in Odyssey of the Mind, and volunteered as a judge at the local and state level many times. The friends Mary made during her career remained her cohorts and companions for many years.

After retiring, Mary embarked on travels around the world as a Global Volunteer. Mary rocked babies in Romanian orphanages, painted school buildings in the Cook Islands, caught fish in South Africa, and taught English to teenagers in Italy. She saw the Northern Lights in Iceland, kangaroos in the Australian Outback, nomadic herdsmen on the Mongolian steppes, glaciers in New Zealand, walked on the Great Wall in China and saw polar bears in Greenland and more.

In-between her journeys abroad, Mary enjoyed spending time with her family, crafting with her friends, enjoying the occasional glasses of wine, shopping for interesting gifts, and volunteering in her grandkids’ elementary schools.

Mary is preceded in death by her parents; her brother, Jim and her husband, Arthur. She is survived by her daughter, Amy and her children, Abigail, William and Margaret; her son, Phillip (Sara) and their children, Catherine, Owen, Liam, Gavin and Eleanor; her son Andrew (Kim) and their children, Jacob and Natalie; her son, James (Jennifer) and their children, Cameron and Kristen; her brother, Bob (Ann); and several nieces and nephews.

According to her wishes cremation has taken place.

A private graveside service will take place at Alamo Center Cemetery at a later date.

Donations in Mary’s memory can be made to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Messages of condolence may be left at

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Messages of Condolence

  1. Sandy Leversee says:

    One fine lady. I worked with this dedicated teacher several years. To know her is to love ❤️ her.

  2. Susan Montgomery says:

    Dear Amy, Phil, Andy and James:
    My thoughts are with all of you. How sad we all are. Mary was a wonderful person. She was absolutely a favorite cousin, and I will cherish all my happy memories of her.
    love Susan

  3. Lois Vazquez says:

    Our moms are probably having a nice cup of coffee tonight in Heaven. What a legacy of life-long learning your parents modeled for everyone. Born naturalists and innovators, your family usually had exciting and ongoing experiments, inventions, constructions, animals, plants, homemade icecream, and dandelion wine. I have many happy memories of your mom. I admired her so much; Always will. Your dad was wonderful, too. Such a good friend to my dad.
    Thinking of your family now as you all go on, and so happy Mary is now at peace.

  4. Mary Rice says:

    Amy I am so sorry for your loss. Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease. My grandfather died from it in 1997. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  5. Buffy Welch says:

    Amy,Phil,Andy & Jamie
    I am so sorry for your loss. I always just loved your mom. Her sense of humor was second to none.
    Know you’re in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

  6. Diris says:

    Very sorry to hear of your mom. Thank you for sharing the photos posted and the times you had time to spend together. You’re a great daughter. Aloha

  7. Jill Barclay says:

    Amy, I have followed your pictures on FB of your visits with your mom and her love of donuts. Now that I have read what she did with her life I strive to BE her. What a life well lived! I can imagine the stories she shared and what a blessing those must be to have as you learn to live without her physical presence.
    Blessings to you and your family,

  8. Verlen & Judy Miller says:

    To all the Brylowski family: We are sorry for your loss. We have lots of fond memories of Mary and her influence of Alamo!

  9. Penelope Schellenberg says:

    Prayer’s to your family. Mary was a wonderful person. I have many fond memories of her.

  10. Sandy Leversee says:

    Mary was a special lady. A very committed teacher and friend to all. She will live on in all her students and all of us who loved her. Prayers for the family. If she could speak to her family she would say “Don’t cry for me I am in a better place. “.

  11. Janelle Turner Oberhill says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with your entire family at this time. I have such fond memories of Mary. Spitfire indeed. She even went on spring break with us! We were the middle aged women from hell! She will be missed.

  12. Heather Lincoln says:

    Although I was never personally a student, my younger sister was. Your mother changed the lives of so many students for the better at a very impressionable age. She set the stage and the standard for influencing with positivity and creativity.

    You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. We are so very sorry for the struggle she endured and your loss.

    God Bless.

  13. Tera (Fisher) Kinnane says:

    I’m sorry to hear of the passing of one of my favorite teachers and OM coaches. I treasure many memories of Mrs. B. and wish to express my condolences to her family. She was an amazing lady and I was blessed to have known her, been taught and encouraged by her.

  14. Patty (Rector) Chapman says:

    To the Brylowski Family:

    I am so sorry for the loss of this amazing woman you all have known as Mother, Sister, Aunt, Grandmother and Cousin. I had the great privilege of working with her at Alamo plus working with many of her grandchildren. A very special family indeed. She has left a great legacy for all of you. God bless and hugs!!!

  15. Lori Burrows says:

    Mary was a treasure for OPS and the world — when I met her the first time she made me feel as if we had been friends forever!! May you continue your love of life and knowledge in heaven as you did here on earth !! I was the lucky one for being introduced to such a wonderful human being !

  16. Kathy Stratton says:

    Our thoughts and prayers for all of the Brylowski family. Mary was a great neighbor, teacher for all of our children and friend. Her educating skills will be remembered by Alamo kids for a long time, as well as her delightful personality!

  17. Julie Betzler says:

    My first memories of Mrs. Brylowski span back to when I was in her 3rd grade class, 1977-1978. Oh what fun 3rd grade was! I was then privileged to get to know her as she volunteered her time at the First Presbyterian Church Health Clinic where I worked. We laughed about how she had me sit in the front row frequently due to my ongoing chatter. My best memory of Mrs. Brylowski was when she SURPRISED me and arrived at my wedding in Italy in Jan. 2000. She touched my life in so many ways and I am grateful for her!

  18. Laura Ketchum says:

    Mrs. Brylowski was my 3rd grade teacher (while she taught at Dix Street Elementary) in the early 90s. She was instrumental in my love of reading and learning! I will never forget her – she was an amazing lady. What a life!! I’m so glad she visited so many countries and I’m not at all surprised about the incredible impact she continued to have on the people around her.

    My deepest condolences,

  19. Mark Stafford says:

    I was one of the hundreds of students fortunate to be in Mrs. Brylowski’s 3rd grade class but somehow she took the time to get to know me and connect with me. As Laura mentioned, she always encouraged reading, and I remember devouring book after book in her classroom.

    In fact, 3rd grade was so impactful for me that I can still recall the layout of the classroom with clarity thirty-some years later.

    I was also privileged to be part of the Odyssey of the Mind program for many years, and I have memory after memory of Mrs. Brylowski challenging me through that program, pushing me to seek answers and think creatively.

    She will truly be missed.

  20. Mary Lou Boughton says:

    She was a great part of Sunday School at First Presbyterian for years – one of the teachers my mom knew she could always count on! Now, after enduring a difficult time with a horrible disease, she is healed into eternity and is at peace. Thanks be to God. Peace to all of you as your mourn her passing and remember a wonderful woman!

  21. Larry E Collier says:

    Mary was one of a kind and always kept me honest. She will be missed, but her influence will live on.

  22. Steve & Sally Laws says:

    James & Jenny,
    So sorry for your loss. Sending prayers to you & your family

  23. Gary and Barb Rhoades says:

    She was a wonderful teacher and one classy lady. Prayers for you and your family.

  24. Joe and Kelly (Hare) Sherwood says:

    Andy and family,

    So sorry to hear of the loss of your Mom. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  25. Mike and Kathy VanSparrentak says:

    Sending our prayers to all of you. She was such a great teacher. Our son Corey loved her as a teacher.

  26. Fay and Ron Tvetene says:

    I am part of Mary’s extended family on her Mom’s side. She was so pro family and was a big part of our “Willey” reunions. I am so sorry to here of her passing. It is ironic that her cousin, Kay, and Mary both died on Jan. 6th although several years apart. All of you are in my prayers and thoughts but I have no doubt she and other family members who have passed are having a ball together. She has a big smile on her face.

  27. Rev. Dan Minor says:

    It has been said the love of a mother is seen in her children and grandchildren.. This was certainly the case for Mary. While I did not know her personally, I see her love in Jim & Jennifer, Cam & Kristen. May God comfort you all. Rev. Dan Minor

  28. Ruby says:

    Mrs. Brylowski was my 3rd grade teacher at dix street elementary school in the year of 92 and 93. I beleive. May she rest in peace and prayers for the family at this time.

  29. Darlene (Shoger) Anderson says:

    My sympathy to Mary Lou’s family and friends. We were high school classmates in Osage, Iowa.

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