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Columbia Missourian

Madge Brown, 95, bridged racial divides through community service

By Chanelle Koehn
August 8, 2013 | 4:45 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Madge Mae Brown always had a heap of food on her table or cooking on the stove. Anyone was welcome to the meals she served — there were no strangers in her life.

“She did everything she could to make life easier for everybody,” her daughter, Marva Brown, said. “Wherever there were people with a need, she was there to help.”

Madge Mae Brown of Columbia died Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, at South Hampton Place. She was 95.

She was born Dec. 4, 1917, in Columbia to Harrison and Ardella (Bass) Washington.

As a Columbia native, she attended Douglass High School, where she met and fell in love with Sherman Brown Sr. They were married March 13, 1936. Together, they raised 10 children throughout 65 years of marriage.

Throughout her life, Mrs. Brown was an active member of the community. She coordinated a huge neighborhood picnic every year until her health declined. Mrs. Brown funded the picnic by helping neighborhood children sell treats, such as popcorn balls and brownies. They also sold flowers on Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Mrs. Brown also helped form a playground on the land where the picnic was held. Children, both black and white, would often gather there for competitive basketball games.

“We lived in an interracial neighborhood,” Marva Brown said, “but even the white kids called her ‘mom.’”

Mrs. Brown was also an active member of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church for many years.

“My niece recently told me that my mother taught her how to be a good Christian and served as a role model for her marriage,” Marva Brown said.

Mrs. Brown and her husband valued a love of family and were involved in their children’s education. She taught her children many skills, such as sewing and how to budget and use money wisely.

In her spare time, Mrs. Brown enjoyed doing crossword puzzles, visiting with friends and family and gardening.

Mrs. Brown is survived by two sons, Sherman Brown Jr. of Columbia, and Daniel K. Brown; four daughters, Marva Brown and Sandra Turner, both of Columbia, Nathalyn Forrest of Mexico, Mo., and Janice Brown of Milwaukee; and several grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren.

Many of her brothers and sisters, three daughters and one son died earlier.

Visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Monday at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 1707 E. Smiley Lane. Services will follow at 11 a.m. at the church.

Condolences can be posted at