With his death at age 89, Harts Morrison Brown leaves a legacy of family and friends whom he inspired to live passionately, to follow their dreams and to seek out new experiences, as he did.
The outspoken Cincinnati resident, who espoused the values of education, community and the arts, died of lung cancer on June 24.
Born June 4, 1922, to Clarence T. Brown, Sr. and Ellen Partridge Brown Speller, Mr. Brown was raised by his maternal grandparents, Harts Henry and Mary Ashe Partridge, in Cincinnati.
He attended Walnut Hills High School, where he was a member of the track team as hurdler and graduated third in the class of 1940, said his daughter Ama Brown-Fenton of Columbia, Md.
After graduation, Mr. Brown moved to Philadelphia to live with his mother. While there, he learned that the U.S. Army Air Corps was training African-American men to fly and maintain combat aircraft in Tuskegee, Ala. Mr. Brown enlisted in 1941 at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., and went on to become part of what history would recall as the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.
His dreams of being a fighter pilot were shattered during his training, when he was hit with a baseball, damaging the vision in his left eye. That didn't stop him from earning two Bronze Stars for his service in the European-African-Middle Eastern campaigns, particularly Italy, in World War II, his daughter said.
After his honorable discharge in 1945, Mr. Brown returned to Philadelphia, where he attended Temple University. There he met his first wife, the late Ada Bryant Brown, and began what would become a large family: their three children would be joined by five other children from two additional wives.
"He often joked that the two things he loved most were women and children," Brown-Fenton said. "He was a romantic through and through; he loved to write poetry, and he would definitely be the type to woo someone."
Mr. Brown earned his bachelor's degree from Temple in 1950 and worked in a variety of professions. During his time with the Social Security Administration, Mr. Brown worked toward employee rights and desegregation, encouraging changes and advancement for women and minorities, Brown-Fenton said.
After working as a college instructor in psychology at Loyola College of Maryland, Antioch College in Columbia, Md., and Federal City College, which became part of the University of the District of Columbia, Mr. Brown pursued a consulting career until his deteriorating vision forced him to take early retirement in 1985.
In his retirement, Mr. Brown, who had young children at home, became heavily involved with their school district, the Howard County (Maryland) Public School System.
Through working with the district's Black Student Achievement Program (BSAP), he became a member of the Council of Elders of the Black Community of Howard County, which began as a ceremonial group but soon branched out to take on additional roles supporting and recognizing student achievement, and in the local African-American community. His efforts earned Mr. Brown a "Maryland's Most Beautiful People" award in 1992, his daughter said.
Brown-Fenton said her father was passionate about the group because he believed in "encouraging young people to achieve the greatest that they can, and that mediocre is not OK."
"Whatever he was doing, he was very passionate about; he never did things in a slack-off manner," Brown-Fenton added. "If he said he was going to do (something), he did it and he gave his whole heart."
He encouraged his children and others around him to find their passions, too.
"My father was very, very smart and he encouraged all his children ... to try different things, be it foods or a new career," Brown-Fenton said. "My dad was a dreamer, and he always encouraged us to follow our dreams. He encouraged others to do what they really loved to do."
In addition to his daughter, survivors include four sons, Harts B. Brown of Philadephia, Rick Brown of Carson, Calif., Kojo Brown of Arbutus, Md., and Jason Marks of Warren, Ohio; three other daughters, Deborah Brown of Philadelphia; Dr. Nancy Brown-Holt of Woodstock, Md., and Dr. Ellyne Brown-Downs of Baltimore; a nieece,Jean Ellen Brown Vinson of Philadelphia; 13 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; one great-great-grandchild; and former spouses Dr. Ruth Payne Brown of Baltimore and Carrie A. Brown of Arbutus, Md.
Services will be 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Poplar Springs, Md.
Memorials: Harts M. Brown Memorial Fund, P.O. Box 1558, Columbia, MD 21044. Donations will support the Council of Elders of the Black Community of Howard County Scholarship Fund.