An Obituary: Elizabeth ‘Beth’ Brassel

September 20, 2023

Elizabeth “Beth” Brassel of Lowell and a former librarian at the Bedford Public Library passed away peacefully on July 28, 2023, surrounded by family and friends. She was 59 years old.

Beth lived each day of her life to the fullest, and never took for granted the time she had in this world. The daughter of the late Barbara J. (Lynch) Brassel and the late Dr. Roger W. Brassel, Beth was born in Montreal, Canada and grew up in Queensbury, NY.

She attended Saint Michael’s College in Vermont where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy. She received a master’s degree from SUNY Buffalo in American Studies, and later earned a master’s degree in library science from Simmons College.

While at SUNY, Beth was one of the editors for the inaugural issue of the journal Circles: Buffalo Women’s Journal of Law and Society, later renamed Buffalo Journal of Gender, Law and Society.

Throughout her life, Beth was active and adventurous, especially enjoying running, skiing, swimming, hiking and backpacking in Alaska, Montana, western Massachusetts and upstate New York.

After receiving her undergraduate degree in 1986, Beth joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corp and mentored children on a Native American reservation in Kalispell, Montana. In the late ’80s and much of the ’90s, she lived in western Massachusetts where dogs and time in nature were always part of the equation.

In 1991, Beth moved to Buffalo, NY, where she earned her first master’s degree, and then moved to the Boston area to attend Simmons College to earn her library science degree.

Beth Brassel

Beth was the consummate librarian, working first at Northeastern University and the Bedford Public Library, and then at the Pollard Memorial Library for 18 years, always dedicated to ensuring access to whatever information patrons needed.

As the Young Adult librarian at the Pollard, Beth developed a number of programs to support youth in reading, writing, and participating in interactive games including lively Dungeons and Dragons and interactive fiction groups. As her students, friends and colleagues at Pollard relayed, Beth’s sincere respect and love of children and young adults earned her an unofficial title as ‘Child Whisperer.’

After moving to Lowell, she took up rowing, reveling in her time on the water and the friendship of her rowing buddies. She was a voracious reader and loved language, a passion she shared with her mother, a trained linguist. She was also interested in the history of gay and lesbian communities in Lowell and civil rights globally. One project that meant a great deal to her was conducting interviews and scouring archives to document the lives of patrons of gay bars who were under police surveillance in the 1960s. She attended the 1993 March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay rights and protested anti-gay legislation in Massachusetts and nationally throughout her adult life.

Due to a childhood cancer, Beth coped with gradual vision loss throughout her life. In 2017, she began a partnership with her beloved guide dog, Leila. Beth continued to work as a librarian full-time and became an advocate for accessibility in her community. She also served for several years as Chair of the Lowell Commission on Disability.

Beth was kind, generous and empathic, qualities revealed by the many people of all ages, backgrounds and experiences whom she befriended over her life. She also had a sharp sense of humor that brought joy to her friends, family and especially the young people she worked with at the library.

In addition to her parents, Beth was predeceased by her older brother Tom, and is survived by her partner of 19 years, Tatiana Schreiber; her sister, Kate Brassel; and close friends whom she considered family, Debbie (Burt) Ames and Josephine Power; a posse of other close friends who came together to help provide care; sister-in-law, Suzanne Brassel; aunt Mary Brassel Zack and many other loving aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins in the Brassel and Lynch families; and countless beloved friends made and cherished throughout her life.

Donations in Beth’s memory may be sent to the Massachusetts General Hospital, Neuro-oncology Innovation Fund, 125 Nashua St., Suite 540, Boston, MA 02114; the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association-Young Parents Program, 465 School St., Lowell, MA 01851; or to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, 611 Granite Springs Rd., Yorktown Heights, NY 10598.

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