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Anna Brashears, social worker and church singer, dies

Anna Brashears "sounded like an angel," her music director said.
Anna Brashears "sounded like an angel," her music director said.

Anna Kathleen Denise Brashears, a social worker who worked with foster families and sang in her church band, died of glioma, a rare cancer, on July 31, her 26th birthday.

She was a patient at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and lived in Columbia.

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Born in Baltimore and raised in the Wiltondale community near Towson, she was the daughter of Douglas Wayne Brashears, a software manager, and his wife, Teresa E. O’Neill, who works for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

She attended St. Pius X School in Rodgers Forge and was a 2012 graduate of Notre Dame Preparatory School, where she sang and played the flute in the concert band. She performed in the school’s musical theater productions and was Lisle in “The Sound of Music.” She was also co-chair for the music committee of her class for the annual school Gym Meet.

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She played soccer and softball and was an avid choral singer. She attended the Children’s Chorus of Maryland and its school and sang in concerts.

“Anna was a lovely young lady. She had a kind heart and was willing to help,” said Sister Patricia McCarron, headmistress of Notre Dame Preparatory School. “She was well respected and loved by the faculty and students of our school. She brought beauty to the world through her music. Service to others was a hallmark of her life.”

Sister Patricia McCarron of the School Sisters of Notre Dame quoted Ms. Brashear’s yearbook passage: “Someday everything will make perfect sense. As for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.”

The headmistress recalled Ms. Brashear. “I always saw in her beautiful smile a sense of inner joy.”

Ms. Brashears sang with the 40 More Days musical group at the Sunday evening Masses at St. Pius Church until Christmas Eve 2019.

The group’s director, Ed Selinski, said, “She was a soprano and had a wonderful voice. She sounded like an angel. She sang a solo of “Silent Night” on Christmas Eve and her phrase ‘Sleep in heavenly peace’ was prophetic. She never raised her voice and never had a bad word to say. "

Carol Pacione, the former pastoral life director at St. Pius Church, said, “She was beautiful inside and out. She exuded joy. She had a peace about her, but she also had a vibrancy.”

Ms. Brashears earned degree in social work at Elizabethtown College and also sang at school events. She later received a master’s degree from the University of Maryland’s School of Social Work.

She joined Balance Point Wellness in June 2018 and became a mental health therapist. She subsequently worked at Mentor Maryland and assisted foster families.

She stopped working because of her medical condition in April of this year.

Ms. Brashears was engaged to be married to Joshua Shumaker, a talent acquisition manager. The couple were ardent fans of the Baltimore Orioles. They had planned a wedding for June 26, 2020.

They visited Ireland together and went to spring training in Sarasota to watch the Orioles. They also shared season tickets to games with her parents and established a home in Columbia.

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They attended Ravens games whenever tickets were available and enjoyed visits to the Renaissance Festival.

Bishop W, Francis Malooly, a family friend who heads the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, said, “I have known Anna since she was a baby. She was a delightful young lady. She was both spirited and low key.”

Her mother, Teresa Brashears, said that her daughter loved getting together with her O’Neill cousins and aunts and uncles. She made it a point to be at the St. Patrick’s Day parade and a dinner at an aunt and uncle’s home in Baltimore.

“It was one of the last the last things she did this year before her illness,” her mother said. “She also had her first fitting for her wedding gown before her diagnosis.”

A scholarship has been created in her name at Notre Dame Preparatory School.

A memorial Mass will be streamed live at 10 a.m. Friday from St. Pius X Church at www.stmarystpiusx.org.

In addition to her fiance and parents, survivors include two brothers, Matthew D Brashears of Nagoya, Japan, and Kevin P. Brashears of Chester; her grandparents, Arnold L. Brashears and Anna Geneva Brashears of Sykesville and James W. O’Neill and Mary L. O’Neill of Baltimore; a stepbrother, Jason D. Brashears of Alexandria, Virginia; and a stepsister, Amanda Berger of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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