Community honors Geneva Brown: educator, Sunday school teacher, golfer

Community honors Geneva Brown: educator, Sunday school teacher, golfer
April 30
00:00 2015

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D, For The Chronicle

In spite of the rain and the chill factor, more than 200 administrators, educators, former students, former employees, family members and friends made their way to the auditorium of the Simon G. Atkins Academic & Technology High School on Saturday, April 25, to honor the legacy of Geneva Anita Bland Brown.

On this special day, two crystal vases of pink and green gladiolus rested on each side of the podium. Easels of Brown’s paintings of landscapes, portraits and a still life lined the stage of the auditorium. Moore School musicians and singers walked onto the stage to sing “I Believe I Can Fly” and raised lit candles as they sang “A Candle for Remembering.”  One student stepped forward to say, “We know that Mrs. Brown loved all children. She taught us that if we believe in ourselves, we will fly.”

The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard, Professor at Wake Forest University, delivered the eulogy, and The Rev. Dr. Darryl Aaron, Pastor of First Baptist Church, welcomed the guests and read the Scripture. Those who spoke on behalf of the community included Mayor Allen Joines; The Honorable Denise Hartsfield, Forsyth County district court judge; Shirley Atkinson, graduate faculty member at UNC-Greensboro; Viola Sharpe of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.; Dr. Donald Martin, professor at High Point University; Jaeson Pitt, a former student who is an instructor at Quality Education Academy; Dr. Kenneth Simington, CAO, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools; and  Brown’s daughter, Dr. Wynne Brown, a physician.

Dr. Geneva Anita Bland Brown, 84,  innovative teacher, principal, administrator, and former member of the Board of Education for the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, passed away peacefully at her home on Thursday, March 26. Having lived in Winston-Salem for 63 years, Brown had worked in the school system since 1954 until she retired in 1992.  She was married to Wendell Delworth Brown for 44 years.

She studied at UCLA with Dr. Madeline Hunter for six years before opening Moore Laboratory School, the first magnet school in Winston Salem.  Moore School, opened in 1971, was the school system’s first open concept, non-graded, multi-age grouping, year-round school. Brown invited Dr. Hunter to Moore School for a week to conduct workshops with the teachers on the seven-point lesson plan and to observe in classrooms.   Brown retired from Moore after 19 years, from central office after serving two years, and completed over 18 years of service on the school board.  Don Martin discussed The Geneva B. Brown Education Fund that was established to provide training in resilience for teachers in the WSFC Schools. Teachers can apply at

Brown was a member of First Baptist Church, Highland Avenue, a Bible study teacher, trustee, deaconess and a member of the Women’s Service Council.  She was also a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and was director of the AKA Annual Golf Tournament for 10 years. Brown’s daughter, Dr. Wynne R. E. Brown, thanked the guests on behalf of her partner Kathleen Ann Werner of Clemmons; two grandsons, Jerry Cooper II of Winston-Salem and Wendell Tyler Cooper of New York City; and other family members.

“I want to thank all of you for being here. I grew up as an only child, and you are my extended family. The people I asked to speak, I invited you because I have wondered what my mother has been up to all of these years,” Wynne Brown said. “You are part of my family. We are grieving and celebrating at the same time. My mother was courageous. When she and her friend Ms. Lash who is 90 went to get their driver’s licenses renewed, I was scared. . . . My mother is still active. Don’t be surprised if she does show up for you. She taught me, ‘Here is the world. Go for it!’”

The Rev. Dr. Bill J. Leonard preached a eulogy called “Geneva Brown:  A Saintly Character.” He took his text from Matthew Chapter 25:35-40. Leonard described Brown as a “saintly character.”

“She taught and mentored character into the rest of us. Her character was informed by the depth of her faith, centered in merit and miracle. Her saintliness was a great equalizer,” said Leonard. Mayor Joines praised Geneva Brown as a “passionate individual. She was passionate about children and about golf. She would call me regularly for help and sponsorship with golf tournaments. She saw that as a great way to give back to the community. She gave me advice over the years, and I saw her as a mentor.”

Judge Hartsfield honored Brown as a special lady in her world.

“Long before the program ‘Black Girls Rock,’ Geneva Brown rocked. I am sure that because Maya Angelou wrote her poem ‘Phenomenal Woman,’ she must have known Geneva Brown.”

Shirley Atkinson remembers when Brown invited Madeline Hunter to Moore Laboratory School. She asked all of the educators and former educators of Moore School to stand. More than 50 were in the audience.

“She had high expectations for all children. She ran a tight ship. She wanted us to be on time, and we had better have that objective on the board. … She was very direct,” Atkinson said. “She used the putting green as an incentive for kids. What a legacy she has left us. What a passion for children.

Let’s keep making things happen for kids.”

Viola Sharpe read a poem called “The Dash,” which highlighted what Brown did with the line between her years of birth and death. She also honored Brown as an instructional leader. “She knew how to get the best out of you.

She would say, ‘If you can’t do it, get off the ship.’ She made me feel like I can go anywhere to teach. She was an instructional leader. She made us do some deep thinking, metacognition. … She was an awesome administrator!” Sharpe said.

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