Skip Navigation

OU Mourns Passing of Joyce Brandes

Bridges Magazine words

OU Mourns Passing of Joyce Brandes

Woman with blonde hair in a cream sweater wearing a scarf

Joyce Ann Krittenbrink Brandes passed away surrounded by her family on the morning of Sept. 21, 2023. A leader in special education in Norman, Brandes received her bachelor’s (1972), master’s (2000) and doctoral (2004) degrees from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, joining the faculty full time in 2004.


Brandes began teaching special education in 1972 before taking a short break to start a family. She returned to the classroom several years later, teaching students with special needs at Cleveland Elementary School. At Cleveland, she taught children diagnosed with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and several other issues that complicated their education. Some of her students eventually became educators themselves -- one of her proudest achievements. In addition to teaching in her classroom, she taught students at Cleveland sign language for over 20 years.

Man in gray sweater, man in middle in dark sweater, woman on the right wearing a gray sweater all smiling

In 1998, she returned to the University of Oklahoma, receiving her master of education degree in 2000, while still teaching part time at Cleveland. After being hired by OU as an adjunct professor, she went on to earn her doctorate at OU in 2004, with the goal of “teaching teachers how to teach


She lectured internationally and was the author of dozens of articles, often centering on teaching strategies and autism. Her awards include the Walraven Award for outstanding contributions in special education in Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma Student Association Teaching - Advising award. She was also chosen as one of the four most inspirational professors on campus as voted by University of Oklahoma student-athletes. Brandes founded what came to be known as the "Brandes Prom" – a prom that enabled students with special needs to enjoy a prom of their own, a tradition that continues at OU to this day.

Woman at podium talking with woman in black sweater talking to young lady in a black party dress

Brandes retired as professor emeritus in 2017 so that she could spend more time with her grandchildren. She is survived by her husband, John Brandes; children, Jennifer (Drew) Mason and Brian (Ariana) Brandes; grandchildren, Riley Mason, Jack Mason and Konstantin Brandes; brothers, John, Jim, Mark and Paul Krittenbrink; sisters-in-law, Priscilla, Francie, Aggie, Debra and Donna; nieces, Kelly (Matt) McGuire, Sherri (Will) Blaik, Lisa (Danny) Eischen, Joy (Chris) Kusel, Autumn (Korey) McMahon and Kayla Krittenbrink; and nephews, Chad Krittenbrink, Christopher Krittenbrink, Fr. Carson Krittenbrink and Winston Krittenbrink. She was preceded in death by her parents, Curran and Dorothy Krittenbrink, and her brother, Patrick.


The family requested that donations be made to the University of Oklahoma Foundation, care of the Joyce Brandes Prom. Click Here to Donate


Click Here for Obituary