Martha Brown, 105, active in church, social clubs

January 21, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

Martha Brown always liked to say that when you start to slow down, you start to worry. She did little worrying.

Mrs. Brown, who died Friday at Windsor Ridge Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Catonsville where she had lived for the past four years, was active in numerous church and social clubs, organizations and committees well into her 90s.

She was 105.

"She had a keen mind, sharp wit and a feisty spirit," said her daughter, Ruth Lee of Baltimore. "She was always aware of current events and liked to talk about them."

Friends and family said Mrs. Brown attributed her longevity to two simple rules: no smoking, no drinking and a firm belief in God and the church.

The granddaughter of slaves -- her grandfather was a flag bearer during the Civil War -- the Baltimore native lived her latter years with her daughter in Northwest Baltimore. She had no formal education and was a homemaker most of her life.

She lived in East Baltimore much of her life and was known for caring for sick and housebound neighbors, and as a volunteer air raid warden during World War II in her community near Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"She made sure all of the lights were out and everyone was off the streets during drills," said John Kimbro, a longtime East Baltimore resident. "She wore the helmet and seemed to take her job very seriously."

The former Martha Dorsey married George Snowden in about 1908. The marriage ended in divorce. She married Zachariah Brown in 1927. He died in 1949.

She worked as a practical nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital from about 1942 to 1951 and performed numerous volunteer jobs in the city, relatives said.

"She kept her mind active by reading a lot," said her daughter. "Her favorite book was the Bible, of course, but she also liked to read the newspaper and novels."

Always a stickler for time and having a full calendar of events most of her life, Mrs. Brown always wore -- and checked -- her watch.

She had the timepiece when in the nursing home.

"She always had to have the watch at all times," her daughter said. "She woke up at 6 and she made the nurses give her her medicine on time."

"She was inspiration to a lot of other older people," said Gloria White, a friend from Mrs. Lee's days at Waxter Center for Senior Citizens downtown. "She's the kind of person that you kept on wondering when she'd slow down."

Services were held yesterday at Trinity Presbyterian Church in West Baltimore.

In addition to her daughter, Mrs. Brown is survived by three grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; 15 great-great-grandchildren; and six great-great-great-grandchildren. Another daughter died.

Pub Date: 1/21/98

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