by Chuck Stanley

Troll Bridge

Brandi on the troll bridge, having a word with the troll. You don’t want to know. Neither did the troll.

Not scared of trolls at all. Trolls know better than to hassle Celtic women.
A Celtic Woman will open the gates of hell, escort your ass right on in, and do it with a smile on her face.

Troll bridge

dividing line

Her name was Brandi Nicole Stanley. Please remember her.


When she was seven months old, they said she had no chance of surviving the cancer.

She survived two major surgeries, spending five months isolated in a stainless steel crib with no family to visit her.

Brandi 12 months old at the medical center

One-year-old Brandi in her stainless steel crib at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. November 1990.

When she was 13 months old and placed in foster care, they said she had between five and eighteen months to live.

She survived 16 courses of chemotherapy and an episode of Sepsis.

Brandi at 15 months old, just before major surgery.

Brandi at 15 months old. Two days before major surgery to debulk the malignant tumor. She was given a 50% chance of surviving the surgery. Without the surgery, she had 0% chance of survival.

When she was six years old, they gave her psychological tests. They said she was mentally slow and would never learn to read beyond the third grade level.

She graduated high school with honors, attended college on a scholarship, and got her degree.  Still on a scholarship, she went back to college for certification as an EMT/Paramedic.

Graduation day

Graduation day Elizabethton High School 2007

When she was six years old, they said she would not be able to write beyond third grade level.

She began touch typing in the third grade.  By the time she was in middle school, she typed more than 40 words per minute. She wrote her autobiography for Language Arts class. By her first year in college, her typing speed was well over 100 WPM.

Autobiography which she typed for Seventh Grade Language Arts Class, age 13:

Autobiography pg. 1

Autobiography pg 2

They said she would have serious motor skill handicaps due to brain damage caused by the chemotherapy.

She played the bagpipes and bodhran (Irish) drums.

Brandi the Piper

Brandi with her Gibson bagpipes.

She shot a rifle and pistol at the Expert level. She was a member of the largest rod & gun club in the area. She was encouraged to enter match competitions, but the cancer came back before she had a chance to compete.

Brandi at pistol range

At the Sheriff’s Department Range with her Browning semi-automatic pistol.

The Look in the Zone

Indoor range with her .243 rifle. In the Zone of concentration. She has ‘The Look.’

She was a student pilot who liked aerobatics.

Brandi in biplane ready to take off

In a 450 horsepower 1942 Stearman PT-17 biplane, ready to take off.

The child with “no coordination” taught herself to tie her own shoes at age three.

She became an expert horsewoman.

Brandi on horseback

Brandi riding one of her favorite horses.

They told her many things she would not be able to do.

She said, “Don’t tell me I can’t do something, because I will prove you wrong.”

Hand feeding caribou in Alaska

Hand feeding a caribou in Alaska

Hand feeding a caribou in Alaska.
But YOU be the one to tell her she can’t feed an animal

The Highland spirit does not die with the body of a Scottish Lassie. She lives on in legend and song.

She said, “Don’t tell me I can’t do something, because I will prove you wrong.”


When she was 26 years old, her cancer came back.

She said, “I won’t go without a fight.”  She didn’t.

She fought until her last breath.


Clan Skene badge of Chief

Badge of Clan Skene, one of the most ancient of all Highland Clans.
The Lassie’s badge worn on her sash.

Brandi Nicole Stanley, the Celtic Lassie, would have been 29 years old today.

Let her not be forgotten, but be folded into the women of legend, fitting for a daughter of Boadicea.


About Chuck Stanley

Dr. Charlton (Chuck) Stanley is a board certified forensic psychologist, with interests in aviation psychology, peace officer selection and training, ethics and communication skills.
This entry was posted in Alaska, Aviation, North Carolina, Tennessee and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN 29 YEARS OLD TODAY . . . THE CELTIC LASSIE: 1988 – 2015

  1. shortfinals says:

    I had the singular privilege to meet the Celtic Lassie – she was all this – and more; and I miss her.

  2. Malisha says:

    Precious pictures. I especially loved her feeding the caribou — I think that one is Prancer, who works for Santa.

  3. She loved her mountains. She especially loved Roan Mountain, where she could walk on the Appalachian Trail in the snow, find flowers that exist nowhere else, and where the land itself seemed to speak to her.

    Roan Mountain is a 6,285 foot unique ecosystem in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Roan Mountain has a 150 square mile footprint. It is home to the endangered and rare Gray’s Lily (Lillium Graii), as well as tiny unique members of the orchid family.

  4. Terry Welshans says:

    Met her but once. Miss her, but not as much as you. You are in my prayers.

  5. I barely scratched the surface. Law enforcement with two sheriff’s departments, Licensed security guard, defending the helpless, lifesaver.

    When she interviewed for one of the law enforcement agencies she worked for, she was asked what her best asset was that she brought to the job. Her reply was, “My mouth.”

    She once stopped a fight on the upper tier of a cell block without ever getting up from her desk. She gave the offenders, “The Look.”

    Her unblinking cold blue-eyed stare could be terrifying if you were on the receiving end.

    But more often, her blue eyes had a wicked mischievous twinkle that could make the crankiest person laugh.

  6. Shirley LOYD says:

    Brandi, you were a very very special girl. Determined and you did prove them wrong. I know you are in the arms of God now.

  7. Gerald Brashears says:

    I never met Brandi Stanley but have a special family connection with her father Chuck. He is a very kind and wonderful man who loved his daughter dearly. She went to meet her Lord knowing that she was loved.

  8. Climbing into the cockpit of a Diamond DA20 Katana. Long hair and a strong crosswind, she becomes Cousin Itt.

  9. After coming back from an hour of dual instruction in that Diamond DA20 Katana, I asked her what they did. Typical of her, the response was a terse, “Steep turns. Spins.”

    I had to ask what she thought. She said simply, “It was good.”

    Pilot’s eye view of a spin in a Katana:

    No big deal, in her eyes.

  10. randyjet says:

    I have never flown a Katana,much less done spins in it. It looks like a great spinner since it lost only 2000′ for a six turn spin. The old Cessnas loose a lot more and I loved spinning them. I was an aerobatic flight instructor in a Super Decathalon and that was a great aerobatic plane with the 180hp engine. I noticed that the AI was a little screwed up after those spins. The C-150 Aerobat could really spin and do wicked snap rolls. I had one student screw up a spin entry when he released the back pressure on the yoke in the entry, and we wound up doing a half snap. I took over and was going to do a split S out of it, but we had too much airspeed, so I just rolled up right.Drat! Spins are a lot of fun.

    • I think spin training ought to be mandatory, but the FAA disagrees. It is not the only thing the FAA and I don’t see eye to eye about.

      Spin training saved me one day when I hit wind shear on landing runway 9 at UOX. Strong gust of wind from behind reduced my relative wind to ten knots less than stall speed while on short final. Spin training made me use rudder to recover from wing drop instead of aileron. Also went against instinct and shoved the yoke forward despite being only 700 ft. AGL. Pulled out just in time to flare for touchdown.

  11. Sue King-Marschalk says:

    “What happens in the Corvette stays in the Corvette.” Brandi was a delight to be around and brought sunshine to every adventure we shared together! Brandi’s love, laughter and beautiful spirit will always ride shotgun alongside me.

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