Mary Lou Brace

Date of Birth

July 24, 1935

Date of Death

January 30, 2020

MARY LOU BRACE died peacefully on January 30, 2020 at the age of 84.  She was born in Jacksonville, Illinois on July 24, 1935, the only child of Louis and Marie Neirman.

Mary Lou met her husband, William A. Brace, while he was a student at Illinois College. They married shortly after meeting and their love and devotion reigned until her death 66 years, four children and ten grandchildren later.

Their eldest child was born during Bill’s undergraduate years in Illinois and their second child was born during their Marine Corps years in Santa Ana, CA.  When Bill completed his military service, they headed back to Illinois so Bill could begin law school. Once there, they realized they were meant to be Californians. They immediately turned around, landed in the San Francisco area, where Bill attended and graduated from law school.  Bill was hired by the local Santa Barbara law firm known at the time as Cavalletto, Webster, Mullen and McCaughey on Victoria Street.  Reliable sources have reported that when the firm’s lawyers met Mary Lou, pregnant with child number three, there was no doubt they wanted Bill to join their ranks.  Mary Lou and Bill moved to Santa Barbara and have called it home since 1961. They completed their family in 1964 when their youngest child was born.

Mary Lou and Bill embraced their new city, joined the Jaycees and Jayceettes, as well as other charitable organizations, always giving back to the community. As a result, they made lifelong friends.  Mary Lou was a member and served as president of the Assistance League of Santa Barbara, served on the Juvenile Justice Commission, volunteered at Hillside House, and had a special place in her heart for the Santa Barbara Zoo.  She was a member of the local sorority Sigma Tau Psi, Camp Menopause, her Birthday Club and the Los Fiesteros Dance Club.  She took tap dancing lessons and was known to dance the night away.

The family spent summers at their cabin in Idaho on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River.  That destination still remains a family favorite but Mary Lou and Bill also traveled the world together and with friends. She recently spoke of their trip on the QE2 with a flight home on the Concord as one of her favorite adventures.

With her children grown and out of the house, Mary Lou and a couple of friends started LUV YA, a company that delivered gifts from parents to students at UCSB.  Though the business was successful, she decided to quit when the work got in the way of the couple’s travel.

She remained an active member in her book club and her bridge group until her final days and could be seen dining with Bill and friends at Harry’s several times a week.  Family gatherings at their home happened spontaneously and often.  There was never a day that she couldn’t feed a crowd with what was in the refrigerator.

She is survived by her husband and their children, Sandra Brace Zakis (Patrick), Robert Brace (Fernanda), Barbara Brace and William B. Brace (Meredith) and their grandchildren, William Zakis, Ryan Zakis, Stephanie Zakis, Walker Brace, Charlotte Brace, Bolden Brace, Georgia Brace, Augustine Brace, Catalina Brace and Magdalena Brace.

Mary Lou was the brightest light and the warmest heart in any room.   Come party with Mary Lou one more time as we celebrate her life on March 21, 2020 from 2 PM – 4 PM at The University Club of Santa Barbara.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to the Santa Barbara Zoo or The Assistance League of Santa Barbara.


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.