By all accounts, second-year law student George Brazier never met a stranger. His gregarious personality and positive outlook were apparent whether he was socializing with friends or answering a professor’s question in class. Outside the lecture hall, Brazier often could be found in the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) office, reading for his next class or sharing funny stories with anyone who stopped to chat.
“I could always tell when George was in the office because his laugh would echo down the hallway, even with the door closed,” said Makela Hayford, a third-year student and one of Brazier’s many friends at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. “He’d start telling a funny story and have to pause several times because he was laughing before getting to the punchline.”
“He could talk to anybody and, in fact, he talked to everybody,” Hayford said. “He met no strangers.”
This week, the Case Western Reserve University community is mourning the 52-year-old Brazier, who died at home Monday.
His journey to CWRU
Brazier did not follow a traditional path to law school. He spent six years in the military as a medic in the U.S. Army, earning the Kuwait Liberation Medal and Army Achievement Medal for his service. After receiving an honorable discharge, Brazier returned to his native Alabama and earned both a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and a Master of Business Administration at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He became an appraiser and property tax manager in Texas but became interested in studying law after encountering the many legal and regulatory issues involved in the real estate industry.
He enrolled at the CWRU School of Law in fall 2020. Despite the limitations of remote learning, he quickly made himself known to his classmates and professors, joining several organizations, including the Student Bar Association, BLSA and the Corporate Finance and Law Alliance. Friends say he was elated when the university welcomed students back to campus in August.
Though he enjoyed his business law classes, Brazier developed an affinity for international law. His time in Iraq gave him an informed perspective on the inherent tensions between the legal principles written in briefs and practical realities of wartime experiences.
“George was a highly engaged student, whose thoughtful, experience-based insights made an impact in his classes and the many student groups with which he was involved,” said Co-Deans Michael Scharf and Jessica Berg. “He came to us with a unique and valuable background, and his presence enriched our community. We both had the privilege of having George in our individual classes. We will miss him.”
Brazier could talk for hours about U.S. foreign policy, Hayford said. He enjoyed debating other students, often “stirring the pot” to enliven conversation.
“He loved the back and forth of debate, but he was always adaptable in his positions,” Hayward said. “You could tell how much fun he was having learning from the other side and defending his arguments. He never left a debate mad or upset—just appreciative of the exchange of ideas.”
Iris Glasco, one of Brazier’s three siblings, said her brother was an ordained minister who liked helping people. He believed he was being led by God to follow his interest in the law, even if it meant moving far from home.
“He’s from Alabama, was working in Texas and decided to go to school in Ohio. That tells me that it wasn’t an easy thing to do, but he was called to do it,” Glasco said.
Nadia Haile, a third-year law student, recalls one of the last times she spoke with Brazier.
“I was sitting in the law school courtyard and he stopped to chat, like he always does with everyone,” she said. “He was just so friendly. We got on the topic of birthdays, and he shared a story from his 52nd birthday last spring, saying it was the best birthday he ever had.”
Brazier told Haile he went to his favorite seafood restaurant in Cleveland, Pier W, and began chatting with a woman at the next table. It turned out they shared the same birthday and she invited him to join her family and have cake with them.
It was a birthday befitting the friendly Brazier, who kept folding chairs in the trunk of his car “just in case” a get-together needed more seats.
“Even though he went alone, he left with many friends. George was one of the friendliest people I know. I am fortunate to have spent time with him on this planet,” Haile shared.
Brazier’s family is planning a viewing Wednesday, Sept. 29, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Watson’s Funeral Home (10913 Superior Ave., Cleveland). Notes and flowers may be sent to: Iris Glasco, 305 Polo Court, Chelsea, AL 35043.
Students who would like support during this difficult time are encouraged to contact counseling services at 216.368.5872. This line is staffed by a counselor 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Faculty and staff can also access counseling at any time by calling IMPACT Solutions at 1.800.227.6007; more information about their programs can be found at myimpactsolution.com using code cwrueap.