The Richard and Renee Brabec family will be the recipients of this year's Schuyler Knights of Columbus' Family of the Year award.
The 2020 Knights of Columbus Awards Banquet as of Monday is scheduled for Saturday, March 28, at St. Augustine’s Parish Hall. Awards will be given to the New Honorary Life Members, New Honorary Members, 50-Year Members, 25-Year Members, Lady Knight of the Year, Knight of the Year and Family of the Year.
Richard Allan Brabec was the youngest of seven children born to Marcel and Valdene (Roether) Brabec. Rich grew up in Clarkson, and received his primary education from St. John Neumann Catholic School in Clarkson. A favorite of the nuns, Rich was a good student rarely finding the corner of the room. Renee Catherine Brabec was the oldest of three children born to Gerald and Sharon (Sobota) Brabec of rural Clarkson.
Renee always seemed to find herself playing sports at recess with the boys. The couple met at a young age through a mutual friend during a backyard game of football. Renee was the quarterback, and Rich played whatever position wasn’t taken. They became high school sweethearts while attending Clarkson High School, and both graduated in 1979. Rich went on to attend Wayne State College, obtaining a Bachelor of Business degree in May 1982, while Renee found employment at Vacin-Vavrina Inc. in Clarkson.
Wedding bells rang on Sept. 4, 1982, at Holy Trinity Heun Catholic Church. The headline read “Brabec - Brabec Nuptials” - not a misprint, just a rarity. The couple made their first home in Clarkson and belonged to Heun Church in rural Colfax County before moving to Schuyler in 1988. They were blessed with six children - three boys and three girls - all baptized at Heun. Andrew in ‘84, Jaimie in ‘86, Amanda in ‘89, Jordan in ‘93, Kylie in ‘95 and Kasey in 2000. The entire family are members of Catholic Workman Branch 80, now known as FCSLA.
While at Heun, Rich was an usher and a lector. Renee belonged to the Altar Society and began teaching Religious Education in 1994. In 2001, the family joined what is now Divine Mercy Parish. Renee continued to teach religious education until 2016, when the youngest, Kasey, received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Renee also served on the Inter-Parish Board of Divine Mercy and held the offices of treasurer and president.
Inspired by the Life Teen group at Divine Mercy, Jaimie became an EMHC in 2003. Rich, Renee and Amanda followed her lead, becoming EMHCs in 2007. Amanda, along with Andy, Jordan and Kylie, were all altar servers. Rich and Andrew joined the Knights of Columbus in February of 2004. Both are third-degree members.
Rich and Renee firmly believed that if their children were involved, it was their duty to volunteer to help. With six children, the couple kept themselves busy as the children were growing up and becoming more involved in activities.
The couple did their part to assist youth organizations in the Schuyler community by coaching softball, baseball, soccer, volleyball and basketball, as well as serving on several of their boards. Among these, they spent an extensive number of years helping with youth soccer. Rich began coaching in 1991 for the local AYSO as Andy became old enough to play. Both Rich and Renee coached and held positions on the AYSO Board with Renee even taking a turn as the Regional Commissioner. In 1996, Renee was instrumental in the founding of the Schuyler Soccer Club, a youth organization for children 18 and younger. This club allowed Schuyler youth to compete in soccer across the state of Nebraska and helped to develop local Schuyler athletes into highly competitive players.
The couple also became involved with the local Boy Scouts, in which Rich was a leader, PTO, where Renee took a turn as Treasurer and President, FFA Alumni, Music Boosters and The Warrior Booster Club where Renee served on the Board for 15 years including in the role of president.
But, no matter what the activity or where their travels took them, they always found a place of worship, and Sunday Mass was never missed. Year after year, the kids would remember the sporting event based on the details of the parish they attended rather than the facilities or outcome of the tournament. The Schuyler Board of Education appointed Rich as a board member in 1997, and voters elected him to retain his post in 1998. He continues to serve the district as the School Board President.
Outside of youth programs, Richard served several terms on the Schuyler Chamber of Commerce. He is a dedicated blood donor, reaching the 19-gallon level. Kasey has decided to follow his dad but is still working on his first gallon. Richard was also recently recognized for 18 years of service as a member of the Board of Directors for CHI Health Schuyler.
The couple said they feel very fortunate to have most of their children nearby. Andrew, his wife Jordan, and their son, Crew, live in Gretna. Jaimie and her husband, Rob Mosby, reside in Elkhorn with their son, Blaise, and daughter, Elliot. Amanda lives in Millard. Jordan is located in Los Angeles, California, Kylie is in Schuyler, and Kasey is a freshman at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.