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“Sue was a huge influence on my life. Her encouragement, patience, and helping philosophy started my career and lead me to become a leader myself. ...Read More »
1 of 10 | Posted by: Nicki Tyler - Austin, TX - Friend

“Sue made me feel special and significant. Thank you Mrs. Mcbee. Your influence over me is still growing. I will never forget the time you spent...Read More »
2 of 10 | Posted by: Gail Mattsen - Cedar Park, TX

“Dear Bob-- Please accept our most sincere sympathies to you and your family on the loss of your Mother. She was a true Texan, and loved Austin. Our...Read More »
3 of 10 | Posted by: Jay Messer - Austin, TX - friend

“I am priveleged to have shared moments with Sue. What a delight and she brought smiles to me and many others. She was and will always be a bright...Read More »
4 of 10 | Posted by: Elaine Garner - Austin, TX

“Over the past week we have been reminiscing the many years we have been blessed knowing Sue & her family. We've laughed & we've cried but they have...Read More »
5 of 10 | Posted by: Carole Grundman-Sanchez & Debbie Cook-Craft (Granger, Tx) - MN

“I consider it a genuine pleasure to have known both Sue and Frank as well as Bob and Marilyn. I have nothing but fond thoughts of Sue and all the...Read More »
6 of 10 | Posted by: Michael Stephen Rosen - Austin, TX

“Dear Sue: Thank you for your gracious help in relocating my large family to Austin from Boston when I joined Tracor in 1970. We have loved Texas...Read More »
7 of 10 | Posted by: Bob St.Pierre - TX

“I wish I'd known this lovely lady, Sue McBee. I read the obit in the Houston Chronicle and was particularly taken by her poem, "The Gift." I have...Read More »
8 of 10 | Posted by: Sherry B. Simpson - Houston, TX

“Dear Friends, I was a bride of a day when we moved to Austin, Texas in 1965. My husband was in the Air Force assigned to UT. Oh happy day ... I...Read More »
9 of 10 | Posted by: Sue Peschier - S. Yarmouth, MA

“I write in behalf of many in the College of Communication at U.T. but, especially, for my predecessor as dean, DeWitt Reddick. He knew, as do I,...Read More »
10 of 10 | Posted by: Roderick P. Hart - Austin, TX


SUE BRANDT MCBEE, beloved wife, mother and grandmother, journalist and poet, humorist and civic leader, quietly passed away at her home at Westminster Manor in Austin, Texas, on January 3, 2011. Oh, what a wonderful life she lived!

Born September 23, 1923, to Robert Hubert Brandt and Bertha Wilhemina Frieda Maria Augusta Lamps Brandt, in Hamburg, Germany, Sue presciently was confirmed as Regina (the Queen). A mathematician might calculate her age at 87, but if ever asked she always insisted she was 19. And seeing her flawless complexion, jet black hair and the twinkle in her eyes, who would dare to argue with Sue McBee?

Sue’s father and her uncle spent a number of years before and just after her birth traveling to and from the United States as crewmen on freighters out of the port of Hamburg. On many of these trips, Robert would return home with Hershey and Baby Ruth chocolate bars for his daughter hidden in rolled newspapers, perhaps explaining Sue’s insatiable affection for anything chocolate. The brothers were finally able to open a small business in New York City and the Brandt family immigrated to the United States through the portal of Ellis Island. Sue’s pride in having joined so many other hopeful immigrants in their journey to America served as a constant motivation for her lifetime of achievement and her empathy for those still seeking fulfillment of their own American Dream.

In her own words:

The Gift

The gift they gave me
Was America
After World War One
My parents – young, war-torn, afraid –
Left their mothers’ graves,
North European ways, old friends
To find new hope
And make their infant child
This gift: America
They found new friends, hard times,
The cowboys he loved
In boyhood books.
They found new English words,
A capitol, a university,
Land of their own, a small bright house
In which to live in peace.
The gift they gave me,
Meaning more than life,
Was then, still is, America.

Fortunately for those who knew Sue, her father’s New York business faltered so he looked for opportunities elsewhere. Seeing a recruiting advertisement from the University of Texas for machinists in its Physics Department, and having always been intrigued by the mystique of the Texas cowboy, Robert accepted a job that would be his life’s work until well into his eighties. Once again, the family boarded a ship for a new home, arriving this time in Galveston, and then traveling to Austin and a house on South Lamar just blocks past Barton Springs Road. Ultimately, Robert’s work in the Physics Department was of such high quality as to make him one of the most sought-after craftsmen in the lab. Sue’s mother, Bertha, joined the State Archives staff and similarly devoted most of her life to her career there.

Sue learned to speak English, a skill she unapologetically insisted should be mandatory for all immigrants truly wanting to be part of the American experience. And she attended St. Mary’s Academy up to the 7th grade, an experience she always cherished and looked back on with both amusement and not a little trepidation:

“I came there, an immigrant child, to get an education under the tutelage of nuns in black habits with white pleated headdresses. The classes, small but elite, were filled with girls named Brady and Tips and Nash . . .

“ But most of us were just ordinary kids who learned to read and add and get along as best we could . . . I learned to write old German script from sweet-faced Sister Ada, an ancient little nun from Alsace-Lorraine.

“I think we were Little Ladies, mostly, during the school day in that large, forbidding structure . . . But after school . . . a delectable metamorphosis took place.

“It was after school . . . that the Secret Society always met . . . there was something wonderful and dangerous about having a secret clubhouse behind [a gigantic statue of] Jesus, squirming through the heavy green bushes to get there and then giggling and whispering lest the nuns find out. (Of course, they knew. Those nuns weren’t dumb.)”

From, Echoes of girlish voices haunt now-vacant lot, “Remembering Austin”.

Sue discovered her love for writing and poetry in middle school. At Austin High, she, along with an amazing group of young writers including Cactus Pryor, Liz Carpenter, Dean Finley Herbst, Jimmy Banks, Windy Winn and Wray Weddell, all of whom remained BFF’s, worked on the Austin Maroon newspaper and, with the guidance of J.W. Markham and her beloved English teacher, Mary Nell Granger, learned the art of journalism. She often spoke of how lucky she was to have discovered at so early an age exactly what she wanted to be and how sad it must be for others who never really know that feeling. She also spoke often of how lucky she was to live in Austin, Texas, home of such literary giants as J. Frank Dobie, Walter Cronkite, Dean DeWitt Reddick, Liz Smith, John Henry Faulk and Bill Wittliff, not to mention The Headliners Club and the fabulous Texas Book Festival, initiated by then Texas First Lady Laura Bush and Mary Margaret Farabee, where she was fascinated to meet such writers as John Graves and Elmer Kelton, and as thrilled as a schoolgirl to mingle with celebs like Robert Duval. In 1999, Sue was herself an honoree at the Book Festival for the publication of her poems in “Lines for a Texas Town”.

Graduating from Austin High at the age of 16, Sue moved directly to then-Professor Reddick’s Journalism School at the University of Texas where she became editor of the Daily Texan. In no way shy or reticent, Sue led the Daily Texan in a vocal defense of the administration of Homer Price Rainey, the University’s 12th President, who was being criticized by the conservative Board of Regents for his seemingly overly progressive curriculum. Challenging even Rainey’s patriotism, the Regents ignored the protests of Sue’s editorials and fired Rainey. Governor Coke Stevenson refused to reinstate him. It was a battle royale that warranted even Time Magazine’s

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