Brad Noel dies at 88

Elizabeth “Brad” Noel, who spent most of her adult life in the service of students and their parents, died January 23, 2019 at the age of 88 at Seabury Retirement Community in Bloomfield. In her final years she was robbed by Alzheimer’s disease of any memory of the many Weaver High students, parents and others who remember her appreciatively and fondly.

Born in West Hartford to Ned and Margaret (Hadley) Foulds, she sang in the First Congregational choir and graduated from Hall High. The summer after earning her B.A. from Oberlin College she volunteered in European work camps with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), then began a graduate year in guidance and counseling at Cornell University. At a campus meeting of young Friends, she met her future husband Don; they courted that year and married in August 1953. She then taught junior high in Ithaca while Don completed his B.A. She liked to say that in a few short weeks she earned an M.A., Mrs. and Ph.T – a master’s degree, married name, and Putting hubby Through.

Brad spent much of her life in service to others. In July 1954 she and Don joined the AFSC to direct weekend and summer work camps in Japan, expanding the program and helping college-age Japanese initiate and manage such efforts – in a country that then had no word of its own for “voluntary service.”

After two and a half years, they left Japan for a year’s travel home through Asia and Europe, living out of knapsacks that they sometimes shouldered but more often stowed on ships, rail cars, buses and airplanes. They spent three months learning to know India, visited friends in a dozen other countries, and led an AFSC work camp in Berlin before coming home to job-hunt while living with Brad’s mother.

After Don joined the Hartford Times in 1958, they began building their first home – of Japanese design — in New Hartford. Their daughter Emily spent part of her first year living in a tent beside the construction site. By the time their son Ken was born the house was mostly complete, and Brad became a library volunteer and then an elected member of the town school board. Increasingly involved in city and civil rights issues, the family moved into the racially-changing Blue Hills neighborhood of Hartford in 1964, where both children attended public school, and where Don and Brad would live five decades.

After another year’s sojourn abroad, Brad resumed her career in education, first as a shared-time classroom teacher at Hartford’s Rawson School and then as a Weaver guidance counselor for 25 years, most of that time as department chair. She pioneered use of computers in guidance records; led a student exchange with Japan; co-wrote a widely distributed booklet encouraging young women to take control of their own lives; and helped hundreds of students become first in their families to attend college, often taking small groups to visit campuses and set their priorities and goals.

She was an officer in the National Guidance Association, several years as East Coast president. The first woman trustee of the Fox Foundation, she helped award scholarships to Hartford students and mentored many, a foundation tradition she often continued well beyond graduations. She was an active member and First Day School teacher in Hartford Quaker Meeting. In Blue Hills she was a block captain, organizing neighborhood activities. She participated in the great 1963 March on Washington, the 1983 follow-up, and many marches and vigils in and around Hartford.

After retiring in 1992, she was elected to the first of four terms on the Hartford Board of Education. She was often the Board’s representative on magnet schools stemming from the Sheff vs. O’Neill lawsuit (in which she was a first-day witness). She also represented the Board on the Hartford Public Library and Capitol Region Education Council boards, among others. She initiated and hosted almost 200 access-TV programs, Brad’s Beat, exploring city schools.

She loved to travel, and was pleased to have been twice around the world and twice more halfway and back. A decade after the knapsacking trip, the family in 1966 spent a year abroad when Don won a newspaper fellowship to study in Cambodia and Romania. Brad set up temporary housekeeping in Phnom Penh and then in Bucharest, schooled the children and took them to meet friends in Japan, India, Jordan, Greece and Austria. The family wrapped up the year camping through Russia. Later family trips included several to the western United States.

She also loved gathering groups of friends to vacation – at their Jamaican rental home and in South America, Europe and Asia. A weekend foray to Boston Symphony Tanglewood concerts was an annual event for three decades; for twenty years they bicycled the 65 miles.

Her other hobbies included sewing and knitting clothes for the family, and gardening. In New Hartford she canned and froze vegetables and fruit to eat throughout the year; their Hartford garden was smaller but hardly less bountiful. Well into her 70s she insisted on mowing her own lawn. She and Don were avid birders; watching visitors to feeders outside the breakfast nook was a joy, especially in her later years. Their travels often included (or were planned around) birding; taking a grandson eagle-watching was a special treat.

She was a longtime member of a Quaker women’s book club and of a multi-cultural women’s discussion group. She had several lifelong nearby friends from elementary school. She and Don were supporters of the arts in Hartford: season subscribers to the symphony, ballet, opera and theater companies, all often shared with friends.

Besides her husband of 65 years she leaves her daughter Emily, son-in-law Tim Sullivan and grandson TJ Noel-Sullivan of Hartford; brother Donald Foulds of Waterbury; nephews Kevin, David and Jeffrey Foulds of New York and Torrington; sister-in-law Maggie Semola of Helena MT and nephews Mark and David and niece Christina Noel and their families in Montana and Texas. She was predeceased by her son Ken, her parents, her beloved in-laws Don and Catherine Noel, sister-in-law Arlene Foulds and brother-in-law Jon Noel.

Her family is grateful to the caring staff at Seabury Meadows and the Seabury Health Center, and staff and volunteers from McLean hospice care. Memorial gifts may be made to the Seabury Charitable Foundation or to the Brad and Don Noel Family Fund at the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Friends may call on February 15 from 4 to 7 at Carmon Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave, Windsor, and a memorial service will held Saturday, February 16 at 10 am at Hartford Friends Meeting, 144 South Quaker Lane, West Hartford.


92 thoughts on “Brad Noel dies at 88

  • A life well lived is one that touches so many other lives as Brad did. Joining many others in celebrating Her remarkable spirit and legacy and praying for her family as you mourn. Christine Negroni

  • Dear Don, Emily & the extend Noel “clan” & family far & wide…

    We send biggest hugs & smiles sprinkled with tears as we think of you & the thousands of people around the globe that were lucky in knowing Brad… whether of decades or just a few moments — Brad’s company & character are/were/will always be 100%+ “The Best”… Rest in peace, Brad.  We will carry on with/for you.

    !dnuora lla sguH

    Sad to learn of Brad’s passing.  What a trooper!  Always doing good for humankind.  A legend, mentor, unstoppable enthusiasm & generosity, kindness beyond fathoming & sweetness unrivaled blended with wisdom, dignity & caring the likes of which are rare & nearly impossible to describe.  Brad Noel, a former colleague & dear friend, was one in a million… make that one in a million, million!  We pray that Brad’s memory will be for a blessing & she will live on in us, our deeds, our thoughts & that the positive energy that was Brad will never die. Amen & Amen.

    Al & Bobbie
    Delray Beach

  • Sending my condolences to the Noel family ,she was such a blessing at Weaver, she will be greatly missed..

  • Mrs. Noel was my counselor at Weaver High School. She so loved her students and pushed us to be better academically but more importantly better citizens. I and so many. mourn and celebrate a loving and giving woman, who willingly put other first. My condolences and thank you to the family for sharing such a gem of person. Mrs. Noel you were such a blessings and truly one of the Lords ministers on earth.
    Thank you, your student Eugene Robinson class of ‘81 Weaver High School.

  • Such a life well lived. And, I’m so incredibly sad. I knew Brad through Quaker Meeting and the Sullivans. Love, light and peace to Brad and her very wide circle of friends and family.

  • As you say so well, Don, her passing is both a sadness and a blessing. I will fondly remember what a friend and ally to me at the University of Hartford. She always asked tough questions, but when she decided our ideas made sense, she was a powerful and skillful partner—and we have two wonderful magnet schools on the University’s campus to show for it. My deepest sympathy.

  • I remember her very well. Rest In Peace you touch many many lives on this earth. May you also do so in heaven.

  • Dear Don & Family:
    My deepest condolences to you. It is sad to hear of my dear counselor, mentor, colleague, neighbor and friend…Brad Noel’s passing. She had a great impact on my life and she will live on in my heart forever.
    It is said “You give but little when you give of your possessions, it is when you give of yourself that you truly give”. Brad was the kind of person who gave a tremendous amount of her time and talent and therefore she will be missed by all. RIP!

  • My deepest condolences to the Noel and Sullivan Family. One of the greatest educators our community has ever had. She will be thoroughly missed.

  • Hartford is all the better (as am I) for having had Brad in our lives. She was a friend and a warrior. A generous, feisty soul. I valued our talks and respected her push. There was only ever one Brad. She’s gone but not forgotten.

  • Oh, Don. I grieve for the loss of Brad but I celebrate an incredibly well loved and lived and traveled life. And 65 years together?! Hallelujah. That’s wonderful. Brad made her mark in many measurable and creative ways. Thank you for telling her story so well, especially when she could not. There is no one better. So, keep telling her story and be comforted. You are being held close by many.
    I remain- In all kinds of solidarity- your fan

  • Don,
    I am so sorry to learn of Brad’s passing. I know that the last few years have not been easy but it was a life well lived. Since the day we met in Jamaica in the 1968, I have been inspired by the commitment you both have had to serve others and explore the world. It has been a privilege to know you both. I think of you often.
    Peace and Love ,

  • My deepest condolences to the family. Mrs. Noel was my guidance counselor at Weaver High and then our lives came full circle during her last tenure of service on the Htfd. BOE. She worked tirelessly, stood firm and was not afraid to stand alone on her beliefs. May her soul rest in peace. Judith

  • Dear Don,
    So sorry for your loss, but what a life you shared. She sounds like an amazing woman. Keeping you and you family in my thoughts.


  • I was saddened to hear the news of Mrs Noel.
    Grateful and thankful for her many contributions to the educational system.
    Sending my sincerest condolences and prayers of comfort for the entire family.
    Weaver High c/o 91

  • So sorry to hear of Brad’s passing. A colleague on the Board of the Hartford Public Library, I was always impressed with her engagement, deep care for, and stewardship of our mission. She was a force, but always gracious. She has left our community a much better place. My condolences to you.

  • Don, Emily, Tim, and TJ
    My sympathies on the loss of your wife, mother, mother in-law, grandmother. Although I only had a short amount of time to know Brad, I am happy that I got to meet her and hear some wonderful stories of her life. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  • Mrs. Noel, thank you for being such a great counselor, mentor and friend. Taking me on college tours and facilitating my participation in the Japan Exchange Program totally changed my life and expanded my horizon. You are such a gift to all that knew you. You will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Noel Family.

  • What beautiful words, a worthy tribute to a remarkable woman. Brad dedicated herself to Hartford’s students, not only throughout her career, but in her many years on the Board of Ed (when I knew her). Always an activist, multi-talented, a quiet leader who led a life of service, adventure and great love, she was truly selfless. Respect and profound gratitude, thoughts with Don and her family. Thank you to the universe for the gift of this woman.

  • My sincere condolences to the Noel and Sullivan Family. Mrs Noel was my guidance counselor at Weaver High School. She was a compassionate and caring guidance counselor who loved her students and always went above and beyond the call of duty. In my senior year, I wanted to visit Northeastern University and had no means of getting there. She took me on my first college visit. I kept in touch with her after I graduated from college. She made a profound impact on my life. My wife is a Guidance Counselor and she has the same passion for her students as Mrs. Noel

    May her precious soul rest in perpetual peace.

    Errol A. Smith – Weaver class of 1980

  • A beautiful, public-spirited life beautifully memorialized. Condolences to her family, who will find comfort in her memory.

  • My condolences and prayers of comfort to the Noel family. The loss of this woman who was dedicated to making life better for a bunch of Weaver High School students who often didn’t know where in life they could go. She was the one who inspired them to soar! Thank you Mrs. Noel. Now rest with Kesus. Your work here is completed. Never to be forgotten.

  • My condolences you and your family Don. And thanks for your wonderful words about her wonderful life. Brad was a true champion of children and will be missed.

  • Don, Family, and Friends,
    Will always remember one of the happiest and most confident persons in Brad.
    Her joy of life infected me and I was proud of that.
    Our deepest condolences and sympathies.
    We pray for you and your family’s strength and splice in this time of grief.

  • Sorry for this news! I do remember meeting this delightful.lady in Ithaca ….my hometown on the Cornell campus in Willard Straight ! What a joy and what a wonderful life. Condolences are e tended!

  • My thoughts and prayers go out to you, Don, and to Emily, as Brad moves into the Light. I have happy and gratefully held memories of my times with you and Brad, and the sharing of our families during earlier times. Brad has been a gift to you and to the community: she is an example of what a well-lived life looks like. Peace.

  • To the Noel Family:

    Please Know that Brad was a life changer. She did so much for most of us from Weaver High over the years. But for her encouragement and assistance I probably would never made my career!!! Thanks for sharing her with us over the years!!! God be with you all. She lived a good life and will be mourned by many great people!!!

  • Heartbroken She save my life when I was a student at Weaver ,she was loved by many students tears my heart goes out to the family.

  • Sending sympathy to Don, Emily, Tim, TJ, to other family members, and to Brad’s friends around the globe. With thanks for her many years of service.

    May her memory be a blessing.

  • Don,Emily,Tim and TJ
    My condolences to all of you on the loss of Brad. She was a very spirited and helpful person too many. I am glad to I have known her over the years and to share so many talks about kids ,travels ,family, dogs, you name it ,we would talk about it. Thank you so much for sharing her with so many of us God bless you Barbara

  • Mrs. Noel was a mentor to me at Weaver High School. She challenged every student she came across to be and do their very best. I can still hear her saying “Now…let’s use some critical thinking tools to work through this problem together.” She was a treasure that touched many lives. I loved that she loved to teach anyone that would listen as that is a rare trait. My condolences to you Mr. Noel and your family. Alzheimer’s does take a lot away, however, it doesn’t erase her kindness, friendship, fellowship, genuine soul, or the love she gave. The legacy she built will continue to live on in those she encountered. I aspire to be a quarter of her. Thank you for sharing her with so many students in the Hartford Public School system. She gave us hopes, dreams, and a future. I will dearly miss her. May you find peace in her memories.
    Que Dios la bendiga a ella ya tu familia (May God bless her and your family)

    Bridgette (Booker) Hudson – Class of ’84
    Fox Foundation Scholar

  • I’m saddened to hear of the passing of Mrs Noel. She was an inspiration and a guiding presence in my formative years at Weaver High. I extended my deepest condolences to her family.

    Donna Lambert
    Weaver ‘94

  • Praying for the Noel family Mrs Noel was a wonderful person she was so encouraging to me and she will be missed by all she came in contact with over the years.

  • Thank you for all you gave to so many. Rest in peace. Such a life well lived.
    Condolences to you, Don, and Family.
    Gloria Long and family

  • What a beautiful tribute to Brad. Thank you Don for sharing such a detailed story of her amazing journey on earth. She was a powerhouse of an individual. Her passion for Weaver High and Hartford area students in general was inspiring to me during my time as Dean of The Hartt School. She lived a full and rich life. God bless her.

  • My deepest condolences go out tot the entire family! For many years I had the pleasure of working along with Brad as we together assisted Weaver students in excelling in school and then pursuing college educations. Brad was a true trailblazer who unselfishly worked hard for all her students. I am really honored and feel blessed to consider Brad a true friend and will always have fond memories of her friendliness! God bless her!

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