President Annette Brasher died unexpectedly in December

California State University, Bakersfield lost a leader and inspiration to the Roadrunner community on Dec. 11 when Annette Brasher, president of the Black Student Union, died unexpectedly.

“Annette was an amazing woman, who worked tirelessly on our campus, both with the Black Student Union and as a work-study assistant to serve her fellow students,” said President Lynnette Zelezny. “At 54, Annette was an inspiring example of what we know to be true here at CSUB: It is never too late to enrich our lives in the pursuit of higher education and a university degree.”

Family member Janice Farley said it was a lifelong desire to help others that persuaded her sister to earn her associate’s degree from Bakersfield College in 2019 and transfer to CSUB in the spring of 2020, with the intention of becoming a counselor or teacher.

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“She was a phenomenal woman,” Mrs. Farley said. “She loved laughing, loved making you laugh. She enjoyed life. She was electrifying and could dazzle a crowd or one person. That’s just who she was.”

Brasher was so devoted to her studies that she left the hospital against the advice of friends and family to complete her finals, said Fitzgerald Graves, who met Brasher when the two were students at BC. They both decided to join the Black Student Union at CSUB when they transferred. Fitzgerald will assume the role of president of the club when classes resume Jan. 24.

“She had the same objective throughout her academic journey,” her friend said, “and that is to empower others through learning and education and opportunities. Through BSU, she saw a way not only to do those things but give back to a community and help others push away some of the stigmas or fears that an institution this size brings to students who may not be college ready.”

Through CSUB’s work-study program, Brasher joined Student Financial Services on April 8, working with students to address questions about their fees and accounts.

“My department and I were deeply saddened to hear of Annette’s sudden passing,” said Student Financial Services Director Julie Oberlies. “She was a joy to be around and had a passion for helping people. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who were touched by her kind spirit and are now grieving her absence. She will be missed.”

Brasher moved to Bakersfield from Los Angeles more than a decade ago, and her experience at CSUB was incredibly positive.

“She loved CSUB,” Mrs. Farley said. “She was going to move to Texas with me, but I believe once she did get that job at the school, that lit her up. You could hear the excitement in her voice. She was doing what she loved.”

Brasher was an avid fan of the San Francisco 49ers, loved to shop and attended church services regularly — online in the last few months, because of COVID-19 safety precautions.

“She was a super loving and caring person,” Fitzgerald said. “If you needed a ride, she’d give you a ride. If you needed someone to talk to, she was there. You wanted a good-smelling aroma candle, she’s going to be the one to bring it to you. She was a leader outright because of how she carried herself and led in her life and the adversities she overcame. I’d say she’s like your favorite auntie. There’s nobody that didn’t love her.”

Brasher is survived by her son, Louis, and three grandchildren, including her 14-year-old granddaughter Stephanie, whom she was raising. She also leaves behind her partner, Kevin Grotts, two sisters and brothers. Another of her sisters died just days ago. The family is currently arranging two funerals.

“With God, we’ll get through this,” Mrs. Farley said.