(b. 3 October 1932)
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) curates about 72 vascular plant herbarium specimens collected by Mary Sue Munson Brehme, who usually signed her specimens simply “Munson.” All her specimens were collected in 1954 with fellow graduate student Frances Ernestine Silliman.
Mary Sue Munson was born in Washington, D.C., and was the daughter of Archibald Taylor Munson, a topographic engineer with the United States government, and Mary Cornelia Williams Munson. (1, 2) At Falls Church High School Sue Munson was the Secretary of the “Collector’s Club” and treasurer of the “Driving Club”. (3, 4)
Ms. Munson graduated with a B. A. in Biology from Maryville College in Tennessee in 1953, and came to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the fall of 1953 in the graduate program in the Botany Department; her particular focus was on flora of the Pee Dee River basin. (5, 9)
In October, 1954 she married Robert Woodruff Brehme who had earned his M.S. in Physics at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1953. (After serving two years in the United States Army, Mr. Brehme returned to Carolina to earn his Ph.D. in Physics in 1959.) (2, 6)
After her marriage Mary Sue Munson Brehme did no further botanical collecting, and instead focused on raising her four daughters. (9) In 1959 the Brehmes moved to Winston-Salem, where Robert had a faculty position in the Physics Department at Wake Forest University until he retired in 1995. (6) Sue Munson Brehme worked at Old Salem Museums and Garden for twenty-seven years, mostly in the Trades Department where she was adept at making leather shoes, leather fire buckets, split white oak baskets and other items used to interpret life in the village. (8, 9)
Robert Brehme died in 2016 in Belleair Bluffs, Florida, and was survived by his wife of 61 years, Sue Munson Brehme and four daughters. (7) Sue M. Brehme now lives in Durham, is an active member of The Association for Living History Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM), and still uses her botanical text to identify plants growing in her neigborhood. (9)
1. Ancestry.com. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012. Year: 1940; Census Place: Falls Church, Fairfax, Virginia; Roll: m-t0627-04261; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 30-9. United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.
2. Ancestry.com. Virginia, Marriage Records, 1936-2014 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia, Marriages, 1936-2014; Roll: 101169182. Virginia, Marriages, 1936-2014. Virginia Department of Health, Richmond, Virginia.
3. Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Falls Church High School; Year: 1946.
4. Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Falls Church High School; Year: 1949.
5. Ancestry.com. U.S., School Yearbooks, 1900-1999 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. “U.S., School Yearbooks, 1880-2012”; School Name: Maryville College; Year: 1953.
6. In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Bob Brehme. http://physics.wfu.edu/news/20/15f-16s/brehme/memoriam.html accessed on 7 April 2020.
7. Obituary: Robert Brehme. https://www.legacy.com/obituaries/tampabaytimes/obituary.aspx?n=robert-w-brehme&pid=177854876&fhid=16803 accessed on 7 April 2020.
8. pers. comm. Nicole Wallace, Alumni Records, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. email of 9 April 2020.
9. pers. comm. Sue M. Brehme to McCormick via telephone interview 17 April 2020.