Brenham ISD to Celebrate 147th Anniversary and Distinguished Alumni
Four Brenham ISD graduates will be honored on September 2, 2022 as the district celebrates its 147th anniversary. Brenham ISD is the oldest public school in Texas, and each year the community celebrates with a luncheon and the recognition of four outstanding alumni who have shown leadership and public service after graduation. The event will be held at the Blinn College Student Center in Brenham and will include a noon meal and a program to honor the Distinguished Alumni.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni will include Mayme (Dennis) Gardner, Pickard High School Class of 1949; Clarence Gerke, Brenham High School Class of 1962; Gus Mutscher, Brenham High School Class of 1952, and Ben Seeker, Brenham High School Class of 1965.
Mayme J. Dennis Gardner has made many lasting contributions in the fields of education and music with her passion and dedication. After her high school graduation, she received her Bachelor’s degree from Prairie View A&M University and her Master’s degree from Louisiana State University. She also received her certification in Elementary Education from Southern University of Baton Rouge. During her 36 year tenure in education, she was a high school music teacher, elementary School teacher, reading lab specialist, assistant principal and principal in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. At Granville T. Woods Elementary, she implemented three programs which improved morale, attendance and academic achievement.
In 1991, Ms. Gardner was honored with a “Mayme Gardner Day” proclamation sponsored by the city of Kenner, Louisiana. She established Gardner’s Music School, and received numerous awards for outstanding work in organizing a community Gospel choir for adults, and sponsoring one for teenagers. She also worked with a community organization that helped low income families. In addition, Ms. Gardner received the “Edwin Hogan Outstanding Musicians Award”. In the church community, she supervised a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, taught Sunday School and served as church musician for over 65 years. She currently serves as pianist for “The Voices of Beaumont”, a group of seniors who sing for residents of local nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. She is a member of Cathedral of Faith Baptist Church in Beaumont where she spearheaded the “Lay Christian Counselors Ministry”, teaches Sunday School, writes and produces annual Easter pageants, and is a member of “Sisters 4 Sisters” Network which helps African American Women who have cancer.
Ms. Gardner is the widow of Royal Gardner and the mother of the late Ronald J. Materre, Alpha Materre Mack, and J. Brian Gardner. She is the daughter of the late Reverend James E. Dennis and Hester Williams Dennis of Brenham and is the grandmother of five and the great-grandmother of three.
Clarence Gerke graduated from Brenham High School in 1962 and is well known in Washington County as the President and Owner of Memorial Oaks Chapel and as a leader in community service. After graduation he attended Blinn College and graduated with his Associate of Arts degree, then he went on to attend the Commonwealth College of Sciences
with a mortuary school Associate of Arts degree. From 1990 to 2004 Gerke was a member of the Selected Independent Funeral Directors, the largest international independent funeral organization, and he served as their President from 2003-2004. In June of 2016, he was recognized for his 50 years of service as funeral director.
Gerke’s philanthropic endeavors include serving as the co-founder, organizer and Past President of Goodfellows of Washington County, an organization that provided Christmas gifts and holiday food for Washington County residents in need during the 1980s. He also organized a tribute, “Lest They Be Forgotten” to area veterans in 2010, an event in which 450 local veterans were honored at Brenham High School. In 2010, he was recognized by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce as “Man of the Year”. He has served on the church council at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Brenham, was a board member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Brenham Maifest Association, the Washington County Little League, and the Washington County Healthy Living Association. During his term as President of the Brenham Band Parents organization, he was instrumental (no pun intended) in starting the scholarship program.
Gerke was married to the late Janet Gerke, who was also recognized as a Brenham ISD Distinguished Alumnus in 2013, and has two children, Melissa Gerke-Lyons and Chad Gerke, and 4 grandchildren. He married Jill Vivroux in 2012 and they live in Brenham, where he is “semi-retired”.
Gus F. Mutscher played baseball as a Brenham Cub and graduated from Brenham High School in 1952. Named “Mr. Buccaneer” by the student body, he attended Blinn College on a baseball scholarship, and played baseball with the Blinn Bucs before graduating with his Associate of Arts degree. He then attended the University of Texas, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Reserve Commission in the U.S. Army. His accomplishments show a life dedicated to the betterment of his community and the State of Texas. His local efforts on behalf of Blinn College in securing additional funding and growth, as well as the development of its Alumni base and Hall of Honor, have helped to elevate Blinn as a great asset to our community and the surrounding area.
All of his achievements give evidence to Mutscher’s active participation in his community, state and nation. After college, he started in sales at the Borden Company in Houston and was awarded the Young Texan Award by the Houston Chamber of Commerce. In 1960, he was elected to the Texas House of Representatives, representing five Texas counties. In 1969, he was elected Speaker of the House; during his tenure the House increased state financial support for higher education, mental health, and other state social services. He was instrumental in the establishment of the Brenham State School, now known as the Brenham , State Supported Living Center, bringing jobs and careers to Brenham, and he also helped create the Star of the Republic Museum at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. In 1976 he was elected to the office of Washington County Judge, a position that he held for 12 years.
A longtime member of Grace Lutheran Church in Brenham, Mutscher served as Chairman of the congregation and chairman of the Washington County Cancer Society. He has two children, Gus Hurley Mutscher and Lisa Mutscher Mikus, and is the proud grandfather of four grandsons. He currently lives in Brenham.
Ben Seeker was a member of the Cub Varsity football team and graduated from Brenham High School in 1965. He received his Bachelor’s degree in History and English from Sam Houston State University and his Master’s degree in Education Administration from Prairie View A&M University. He served his country as an Army 1st Lieutenant from 1970-1972, which included a Tour of Duty in Vietnam. He has given himself to his country, state and community and has made mentoring youth and future leaders of our community a priority by sharing the concepts of patriotism, honesty, and leadership.
Seeker started his career as a school bus driver, teacher and coach in Burton ISD, then later he transferred to Brenham ISD. He was an administrator in Brenham for 20 years, mostly at Brenham Middle School, where he served as campus principal and initiated the 8th Grade Watch Program. He later worked for Tarlton Supply/Trepan Tools, which later became part of the MIC Group, and helped to launch the Vocational Training Program which is now known as the Hodde Tech Center. He is a member of VFW Post 7104 and a two-time Post Commander. He is a member of the Washington County Veterans Association, having served as Past President of that organization, a charter member of the Brenham Honor Guard, and has been a speaker at Veterans Day and Memorial Day programs at all schools in Brenham and the community. Recently, out of 6000 VFW posts in the world, only 270 received the award of All American. Brenham VFW Post 7104 was one of them, having also achieved All State honors.
Seeker is a long time member of Brenham’s First Baptist Church and has been married to his wife, Kay, for 39 years. They have 3 daughters- Jennifer Seeker Emerson, Kari Seeker Mika, and Shelby Seeker Colley.
The Brenham ISD 147th Anniversary celebration is open to the public. Seats at the celebration are $30 per person, or $240 for a table of eight. Reservations can be made by calling Brooke Trahan at Brenham ISD at 979-277-3700, extension 3715. You can also visit the administration office at 711 East Mansfield Street or mail a check to Brenham ISD at PO Box 1147. The deadline to reserve seats is Thursday, August 25, or whenever seats are sold out.