Active alumni association, community member will be missed

by Cheryl D’Mello

Brenda Joyce Fraley Kolchin, an active member of the Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School Alumni Association, passed away on Friday, Sept. 22 at the age of 79.

Born in Colcord, West Virginia, Kolchin moved to Oil City, Pennsylvania and then to Brecksville when her father got a job with J&L Steel in Cleveland. She graduated from BBHHS in 1962 and attended Miami University, where she met her husband, Michael Kolchin.

After graduating in December 1965 with a bachelor’s degree in education, Kolchin became a schoolteacher. She later received a master’s degree in education from Lehigh University where Michael was a Professor of Management.

For almost 25 years, she worked in the North Hampton School District in Pennsylvania as a teacher and reading specialist before finally retiring as a gifted teacher. She loved teaching and was loved by all.

In 2015 the Kolchins moved back to Brecksville to the house Brenda grew up in and she became active in the local community.  She actively volunteered in her neighborhood of Cambridge Village and was a deacon, Sunday school teacher and leader at the Independence Presbyterian Church. 

Brenda was also an integral member of the BBHHSAA and served in many capacities, including vice president.

“She was always willing to help or volunteer with alumni events and activities, such as the All-Alumni Reunion during Brecksville Home Days and the pancake breakfast,” said Lisa Greb, BBHHSAA first vice president.

The organization’s second vice president Annette Hess Manktkowski added, “In the last few years, Brenda led a symposium committee which focused on how to make the BBHHSAA a better organization.”

The six pillars she wanted the group to focus on included visibility, membership/growth, publicity, memorabilia, scholarship and fund-raising.

“Under her leadership, all six goals were put in motion,” Manktkowski added. “Through her monthly meetings, these goals were discussed thoroughly with sharing ideas and how to implement them.”

Kolchin was preceded in death by her parents, Margaret and Ishmael Fraley,  and her sister, Marian Fraley Hamm. She is survived by her husband Michael; her son, Geoffrey of  Aspers, Pennsylvania; and daughter, Katie, who resides in New York City; and sister Patricia Fraley Distel of Newnan, Georgia.

Brenda will be remembered as a wonderful neighbor, and an active and dedicated member of the BBHHSAA.

As Jeanne Carouse Travaglianti, BBHHS Alumni Association, President said, “She was passionate about leaving a better association to those behind us. She never lost her gusto to dream big. She truly embodied my mantra of ‘Once a Bee … Always a Bee!’”

Photo (above): Brenda Fraley Kolchin, BBHHS class of 1962 (back row, second from left), will be remembered for all the work she put into the BBHHS Alumni Association. Also pictured are additional members of the BBHHSAA, (front row, left to right) Jeanne Carouse Travaglianti, Annette Hess Mantkowski, Suzanne Fleming Young, (back row) Lisa Greb and Veta Gross Groth. Photo submitted by Avery Mowder.