Grace Blair Brake celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this year and has many happy memories of a life well spent to share! On the wall over her bed is a chart from Church World Service displaying the $2 million the six CROP Walks Grace started have raised over the years to fight hunger. The first walk Grace organized was in Bear Lake, Michigan. “I felt led to do it,” she explained. “I’ve always been interested in helping people with hunger – wells for clean water, food boxes.”
To start her first walk Grace visited ministers in the community to get their support. “It was fun to walk,” she recalled. “People took their dogs and baby carriages.” Grace went on to start five more CROP Walks in Michigan and Wyoming and the last one in Lakeland, Florida in 1985 when she and her first husband, the late Rev. Richard Blair settled down to enjoy retirement. “It makes me happy that all those people got help,” she said.
Grace didn’t stop serving others after she retired. At Florida Presbyterian Homes she served as president of the women’s auxiliary in the mid-90s. When asked how she was able to accomplish so much, she said “I never thought I could do things like that but the Lord helped me every time.”
If you really want to see her eyes twinkle, ask her about her husband Bill Brake, whom she wed in 2006 at age 92. They met for meals after he moved to Florida Presbyterian Homes. “It was quite a romance,” she remembers fondly.
Grace and husband Bill are pictured here with administrator Maria Rivera at Grace’s 100th birthday party on February 21, 2015. The Lakeland CROP Walk for Hunger Grace started over 30 years ago took place that afternoon. Amy Killgallon, Florida Field Director for Church World Service, is happy to report that five of the six CROP Walks Grace started are still operating today.