As we honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I want to share the inspiring story of a Pt. Pleasant resident and explain his local connection to Dr. King and his wife Coretta Scott King.
I spoke with Charles A. Brady in 2007 to learn more about his background when the Pt. Pleasant Foundation for Excellence in Education was on-track to induct him into the 10th Annual Hall of Fame as the Community Leader Award Recipient. I sat in awe for days after we finished talking.
I learned Mr. Brady's commitment to children and his efforts as a peacemaker, promoting nonviolence and equal treatment for all races caught the attention and gained the support of Dr. and Mrs. Martin Luther King, Jr. early on. As a result – a relationship of mutual respect and friendship between the King Family and Mr. Brady dates back to 1965. He would later author a biography on Dr. King for the National Catholic Encyclopedia.
In the 1960’s, on the inside flap of a book entitled, “My Life with Martin Luther King, Jr.,” Coretta Scott King sent the following handwritten note to Mr. Brady, “Charley - With deep appreciation for your concern and support of those ideals of love, justice, truth, peace and brotherhood. May our common efforts hasten the day when Martin’s dream will be realized. Coretta Scott.”
Mr. Brady, a Certified Financial Planner in Manasquan NJ since 1981, graduated from St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark. After graduating from Seton Hall University in 1958, he served as an assistant to the vice president of a major gas corporation. Mr. Brady’s strong desire to help others led him out of Corporate America and into the Immaculate Conception Seminary where he was ordained a priest in 1966.
He served in several black communities in New Jersey, while assigned assistant pastor of Holy Spirit Church and St. Peter Claver Church in Orange and Montclair. Among his many accomplishments, he taught Dr. King’s nonviolent philosophy to black youth, and established athletic teams that won 3 national championships in 8 years. Mr. Brady’s efforts as an educator, coach, mentor and father figure inspired many of his students to become athletes and stars in college; and most became productive members of their communities.
Mr. Brady was a guest of Dr. King at the Southern Christian Leadership Convention; he had also been a guest in the King home; and often represented Mrs. King at functions in New Jersey.
Mr. Brady’s commitment to civil rights during this volatile time in our country’s history was met with resistance in some circles in NJ and as a result, Mr. Brady was forced to repel a myopic mob mentality that was behind a no-holds-barred effort to remove him from the important work of his parish.
Mr. Brady prevailed and he again found strength and support in the words of Mrs. King when she wrote in a letter dated, August 30th, 1968, “Dear Charley, ... the trouble you described in the Newark school was in many ways painfully familiar… it certainly requires more love, courage and strength to prevail and endure than it does to retaliate in kind. Your courage and determination to lovingly demonstrate the nonviolent brotherhood so desperately needed in the world is a source of inspiration and encouragement… With love, Coretta.”
No matter what the challenge, Mr. Brady continued to live the tenets of courage and encouragement every day. Beyond the establishment of the youth sports teams that won 3 national championships, he also helped kids - who could count on his commitment to them - win 4 eastern championships, 8 state championships, and 23 count championships!
He established and coordinated an alternative high school in Orange, NJ for students who could not learn within a normal structured environment. No matter what the challenges, Mr. Brady worked tirelessly to build confidence by inspiring each kid one unique student at a time. He helped every child find a place to contribute something meaningful because his experiences proved to him that every child had something meaningful to give and share.
A year after resigning from the priesthood, Mr. Brady met his wife, Carmie. A year later they married and had three sons: Matthew, Scott and Patrick - all of whom were exceptional athletes and graduates of Pt. Pleasant Borough High School.
When Carmie Brady passed away from cancer at age 50 on May 21, 2004, Mr. Brady and his sons decided her spirit would live on in their actions. They created a not-for-profit organization called The Carmie Brady Foundation which is dedicated to improving the lives of children and adults facing cancer and other devastating illnesses.
Author Charlie Brady wrote and published a book which is a moving tribute to his late wife's triumphs & struggles entitled, "I Will Live. My Children Need Me.: The Love and Life of Carmie Brady." I keep the signed copy Mr. Brady left in my mailbox in a special place because it provides a wonderful window into what motivates his family and so many of their first-circle friends to keep hope alive for complete strangers in Carmie's name.
Mr. Brady told me that his mission was to write a book that "could speak to the heart of everyone who has ever lost hope or the will to survive due to life's unfortunate circumstances." His mission was achieved and all proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to the Carmie Brady Foundation.
The Foundation has successfully raised hundreds of thousands of dollars and helped countless families & children. "The Brady Bunch" Walk for the Cure Team is 500 volunteers strong and growing.
This tremendous family has two upcoming events planned for early 2013** to aid more people and to continue their decade of support for the Carmie Brady Room at Hope Lodge. Hope Lodge is located just a few steps from New York Penn Station & Madison Square Garden and is sponsored by the American Cancer Society. Cancer patients from all over the world can stay at the lodge free of charge while they are receiving treatment at any New York hospital.
What was clear to me in 2007, was that every community Mr. Brady's remarkable life touched became a better community because he was in it. His biography has appeared in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who in the East because he earned it. He has appeared on CNBC’s Money Talk and other TV programs.
For anyone who judges a man by the company he keeps, this information will satisfy you: Mr. Brady is a 35 year member of the Elk’s Handicapped Children Committee and was 2003 Shillelagh of the year for the Friendly Sons of the Shillelagh, a club that has given over $300,000 to local charities and families.
Helping fellow citizens plan for their future & retirement while mitigating risk to help them reach financial goals and their dreams is also a noble calling. Mr. Brady is on the Presidential Advisory Committee of USAllianz, Franklin Templeton Funds, Hartford, and ING. He was also named to “America’s Best Financial Planners” by the Consumer’s Research Council of America in 2006.
In 2003, this past-President of the Sea Girt Chamber of Commerce was selected NJ State Businessman of the Year by the National Congressional Committee; he has founded organizations dedicated to supporting people in the field of Financial Planning and he has been a contributor to countless other local organizations including: Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Friends of Manasquan VFW, “Think Tub” - a group dedicated to raising funds for sick children; and finally he is a loyal repeat sponsor and supporter of many important organizations in Ocean & Southern Monmouth Counties.
Dr. King often called for “personal responsibility” in fostering peace. Our small town hero with the local connection to a mentor named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has made a difference in the lives of others for over five decades. The personal responsibility and leadership skills displayed by Mr. Brady throughout his life honors Dr. King’s legacy and all of us in untold ways.
** Upcoming Events supporting the Carmie Brady Foundation: Friday - January 25th Wine Tasting Event sponsored by Gerard's Wines & Spirits at the Crystal Point (Event is sold out) and Sunday - April 25th The Spring Fundraiser at Jenkinson's on the Pt. Pleasant Beach Boardwalk, (see www.carmiebradyfoundation.com for details).