Funeral services for Vivian Sue Brake, 76, West Plains, Missouri, will be held at 2:00 p.m., Friday, February 2, 2024, at First Baptist Church, West Plains, under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home.
Vivian Sue McMahan was born to Nick and Maudena (Turner) McMahan on December 29, 1947 in the Crista Hogan Hospital of West Plains, Missouri. The little red head grew up and attended grade school in Pomona, Missouri and high school in Willow Springs, Missouri, and while there, loved performing in choir and choral ensembles, participating in the annual school musicals, playing softball, and was especially proud to represent the school by attending Girls State. During February of her senior year, Vivian met a young sailor, Dale Brake and after a dozen or so dates, they united in marriage on August 28, 1965. Two sons were born during this union; Steven “Scott” Brake and James Dale Brake. Vivian left her earthly home at West Vue Nursing Home on Monday, January 29, 2024 at the age of 76 years and one month.
Once Dale’s Navy service was complete, he and Vivian headed to Desoto, Missouri where the two obtained employment at the former McDonnel-Douglas Aircraft Company. While there, Vivian served as a quality manager and excelled in that role. However, Vivian’s calling was in the field of nursing, and she pursued her RN diploma at Jefferson Memorial Hospital, where she worked in the OB department upon graduation. In 1977, Dale and Vivian moved to Marshall, Missouri where she continued her nursing career at the local hospital, as well as interpreting sign language at their church in Marshall.
During their time at Marshall, Vivian realized she had McMahan roots in the nearby towns of Blackwater and Arrow Rock. It was then that she started down the path of her genealogical journey and pursued membership with the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). Over the years, she was able to prove at least five American Revolution patriots via her McMahan line and was working on additional lines. Additionally, Vivian was able to prove Revolutionary War patriot James Turner on her mother’s line.
After a brief stay in Palmyra, Missouri, the Brake family headed back to Howell County, Missouri in 1979. Upon moving back to West Plains, she gained employment at Ozarks Medical Center as the Director of Nursing Education where she taught classes to staff as well as patients like prenatal classes. She also served
as Director of Public Relations where she was involved with providing a weekly article, “Taking the Pulse,” in the West Plains Daily Quill that included interests in various health issues. She also planned, organized and cleaned up after many galas benefitting the hospital. Vivian’s career led her to become Vice President of Quality Management where she was instrumental in aiding the hospital through two major renovations and the opportunity to become JCAHO (Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals) certified. Through her leadership, the hospital performed very well during their inaugural inspection, and were confirmed JCAHO certified on their very first attempt.
Vivian’s membership with the West Plains Chamber of Commerce allowed her work and community service to be acknowledged and led to her being recipient of the “Woman of the Year” award.
Vivian eventually felt called to pursue a career in senior living and transitioned to the role of Assistant Administrator of the West Vue Corporation group of facilities including the Village, Pleasant Valley Manor, and West Vue Nursing Home. Vivian was beloved by staff and residents over the eight plus years she was at West Vue prior to her retirement from working service due to health issues.
Upon returning to West Plains, the Brakes found First Baptist Church was a great fit for their family. As a member, Vivian was often found singing in the choir, ensembles or even solos; assisting with a deaf ministry; serving on various committees; and most lovingly, serving as Sunday school teacher with her husband and Scott and Judy McWilliams for the Seekers class.
Vivian’s love of genealogy and DAR led her to join the local Ozark Spring Chapter, NSDAR in 1980 where she served in various officer roles. She also served at the state level with the Missouri State Society Daughters of the American Revolution (MSSDAR) as committee chairman and as State Registrar during the Lemira Parks Administration. Vivian did maintain DAR Associate Membership with the Marshall Chapter, and she also joined the National Society Daughters of 1812 Brigadier General Thomas A Smith chapter founded in Marshall as well. Vivian’s passion for finding the puzzle pieces to knock down brick walls for prospective members also migrated over to her husband, son, grandson, cousins, and others to find and prove Revolutionary War patriots and completion of their paperwork for membership with the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). The fruits of those efforts resulted in the Ozark Mountain Chapter, SAR, awarding her the Martha Washington medal for service rendered to assisting with the application approval process for at least five SAR members.
Vivian is preceded in death by her parents, unnamed infant brother, sister, Margaret Ann (McMahan) Bauer, and brother Gary Leon McMahan.
She is survived by husband, Dale of the home; two sons, Scott and wife Penny (Jones) and James and wife Robin (Forcier); two grandchildren, Hannah and Nicholas; nine step-grandchildren; four step-great-grandchildren; several nieces and nephews – most of which are biological; dozens of cousins; and many friends form several communities including lifelong special friends, Nan Albin and Peggy Bradford.
Vivian will be greatly missed by all who knew or worked with her, but we rejoice that she is no longer in pain and in her heavenly home using that great voice in song.
Visitation services will be held from 1:00 until 2:00 p.m., Friday, at First Baptist Church. Burial will be at Mt. Zion (Olden) Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Mt. Zion Cemetery and may be left at or mailed to Robertson-Drago Funeral Home, 211 West Main, West Plains, MO 65775.