Their Memory Lives On

The legacy of the Brizard family is a picture of faithfulness, frugality, and a commitment to Catholic education.

In 1915, when Lezin J. and Lydia Brizard moved to Jacksonville from Louisiana, they settled in Riverside and joined St. Paul Catholic church. They had five children: Joseph, Eloise, Vivian, Alice and Cecile. After they retired, Eloise, Cecile and Alice lived together in the family home on College Street and were daily communicants at St. Paul.

“They lived extraordinarily modest lives and were able to accumulate a sizable legacy,” said their attorney, Bill Joos. “They invested their money wisely, and they didn’t spend. And they loved their church.”

When Eloise died in 1990, Joos said that her two surviving sisters, Cecile and Alice, her beneficiaries, disclaimed the bequests on Joos’ advice resulting ina charitable bequest to St. Paul School and savings in estate tax. He also recommended that Cecile and Alice consider leaving endowments equally to St. Paul parish to support the St. Paul School, and the diocese for its ministries. “Those endowment funds build in value and provide an annual distribution for the purposes for which they were set up, in perpetuity,” Joos said.

Cecile and Alice each created charitable remainder trusts to benefit equally the school and the diocese. Upon their deaths, more than $3.1 million was left to the Catholic Foundation of the Diocese of St. Augustine as endowment gifts.

“On a personal level, I am thankful that my friendship with the Brizard and Button sisters and my legal advice to them has resulted in endowment gifts that are now valued at about $4.9 million, and that these endowment funds have resulted in annual distributions which should continue in perpetuity, “Joos said.

Father George Vaniyapurackal, pastor of St. Paul – Riverside, said the Brizard’s gifts have laid a foundation for the parish and school that have helped them fulfill their joint mission.

In recent years, the endowment has helped the church and school pay for many shared facilities.

In addition, the Brizard Scholarship Fund helps pay tuition for many students, especially during the summer months, Father George said.

For St. Paul principal, Kim Repper, this annual distribution is a lifesaver. “I’ve been here 10 years, and it’s an amazing reassurance to know that you have the recurring source of funding to support whatever has hit you in the face,” Repper said. “This building is almost 100 years old, and it’s always something – the plumbing, the roof, the A/C. And now COVID-19.”

Repper described the funds the school receives each year as a “wonderful safety net.” “I can’t imagine that these ladies knew what the impact of their gift would be. Because that money is invested properly, each year we know we will get something that will help us continue our mission of helping St. Paul’s children. It will have significant impact for years to come.”