Beryl Kathleen Stoker Brown, age 95, Erwin, died on Saturday, October 4, 2014 at the Unicoi County Memorial Hospital. She was born in Salisbury, North Carolina, the daughter of Wiley Alexander and Sallie Mae Snider Stoker, who were both teachers. She gained her love of learning from her parents, who were both teachers. She was a lifelong learner who loved reading and believed strongly in the importance of libraries. She graduated from Mars Hill College and Carson Newman College and went on to do graduate studies in library science at Emory University.
After her marriage to Haynes Brown in 1941, she worked as a laboratory assistant at Duke University Hospital. When her husband graduated from the Duke Law School, she traveled with him as his service in the U.S. Navy led him to New York, Boston and California, where she lived while he served in the Pacific. Returning to Erwin after the war, she taught for a short while before retiring to raise her three daughters.
She was a member of First Baptist Church from her marriage until her death and served many years as the teacher of the Dorcas Sunday School Class. She also served as WMU Director, and as the leader of the Young Womens mission organization.
In the late 1950s she returned to teaching and spent 25 years in the Unicoi County School System teaching high school English, French, and History. During her years at the high school, she coached the Speech Club and enjoyed taking students to competitions in drama, debate, and public speaking. She was instrumental in setting up the first language learning lab at the school, allowing her students to take advantage of newly available audio technology. A highlight of her teaching years was taking a student group on a trip to France and England in the late l970s. Her love of teaching was passed on to her three daughters, all of whom became educators.
After her retirement in 1985, she pursued her interest in art by taking classes in watercolor, oils, pastels and stained glass. She also became an avid user and promoter of computer technology. She purchased her first computer soon after retirement and put it to use helping in her many avenues of civic involvement. Serving on the Board of Directors of the Unicoi County Public Library, she wrote a grant to help get the first computer at the local library and worked to put it to use to end the digital divide and make the new technology available to all learners. She served several years on the Watauga Regional Library Board and worked to get connectivity among all the libraries in the region. She also served on the board which oversaw the restoration and conversion of the old Clinchfield Railroad depot to become the home of the J. F. Toney Memorial Library.
Mrs. Brown served on the boards of the Clinchfield Senior Center, the Unicoi County Heritage Museum, the local chapter of the Red Cross, the Unicoi County Hospital Auxiliary, and The Harmon and Mary Monroe Foundation. She served many years and held offices in the Erwin Womens Club and the Erwin Monday Club. She also enjoyed participation in the Lanier Club, the Wednesday Club and the Criterion Book Club.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her husband of 53 years, Judge Milton Haynes Brown, her sister Hilda Stoker Griffin, her brother, Richard W. Stoker, her sisters-in-law, Olive Brown Blackwell, Nancy Alberta Brown, and Jodie Helen Brown, and her brothers-in-law, William Griffin, II and Hoyt Blackwell.
She is survived by her three daughters: Suzanne Brown Sumrall and husband John of Decatur, Georgia, Martha Brown Stromberg and husband Robert of Erwin, and Alexandra Russell Brown of Lexington, Virginia. Grandchildren are Julia Sophia Brown, Roger Scott Sumrall and wife, Rosemary, Noel Haynes Sumrall, Kathleen Stromberg Casson and husband Douglas, Robert Brown Stromberg and wife Camalgé, and Leanna Stromberg Granillo and husband Jeffrey. Great Grandchildren are Sydney Michelle Sumrall, Scott Nelson Sumrall, Martha Grace Casson, Alexander Mackay Casson, Claire Hart Casson, and Andrew Edward Granillo. She is also survived by her sister-in-law Jane Fogus Stoker of Charlotte, North Carolina and several nieces and nephews.
The family respectfully requests the honor of your presence as we honor and remember the life of Beryl Brown in a funeral service on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Erwin. The family will receive friends from 1:00 until 3:00, on Saturday, at First Baptist Church. Rev. Ray Sorrells will officiate and music will be provided by Brad Williams, Ila Nielsen, and family members. Interment will follow at Evergreen Cemetery. Pall bearers will be friends and family. Honorary pall bearers will be the past and present deacons of First Baptist Church.
For those who prefer, memorial contributions may be given in lieu of flowers to The Col. J.F. Toney Memorial Library, 201 Nolichucky Ave., Erwin, TN 37650; to Doctors for Global Health, P.O. Box 1761, Decatur, Georgia; to The Monroe Foundation (for the education of local health workers), P.O. Box 1471, Erwin, TN 37650; or to the Lottie Moon Offering for Foreign Missions at First Baptist Church.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family and viewed at www.valleyfuneralhome.net. These arrangements were made especially for the family and friends of Beryl Brown through Valley Funeral Home, 1085 N. Main Ave, Erwin, 423-743-9187.