By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
WALNUT HILLS - Mary Vera Banks Brown, a businesswoman, church leader and community educator, died Thursday at the Deupree Community health center in Hyde Park.
The Walnut Hills resident was 86.
Mrs. Brown was married for 64 years to the Rev. Harry L. Brown, pastor emeritus of Bethel Baptist Church in Walnut Hills.
"She was a quiet person, but she did the work unbeknownst to others," her husband said. "She was humble but she was a dynamo.''
Her son, Dr. Ronald Brown of San Francisco, said, "She was a very courageous, adventurous woman who dedicated her life to inspire the lives of others. It was her mission to inspire their dreams."
At Bethel Baptist, Mrs. Brown founded Sunday School Class No. 25, which grew to a membership of more than 200 women. Interested in the character development of the church youth, Mrs. Brown organized teens and took them on trips.
Mrs. Brown was the co-founder and president of the Stars of Art Federated Club in the late 1940s and early 1950s a trustee of the International Visitors Association;and a member of the Woman's City Club, Cincinnati Historical Society and Tau Chapter of Iota Phi Lambda Sorority.
She supported and volunteered for the Fine Arts Association, the Cincinnati Symphony and Channel 48. She served as president of the Frederick Douglass School PTA from 1948 to 1950.
She and her husband traveled to more than 70 countries and took close to 40 cruises. She established her own travel agency, Brown's Tours and Travel Service, in the 1970s. She retired in the early 1980s.
She was honored as "Cincinnati Business Woman of the Year" by Iota Phi Lambda Sorority in 1967. She was one of five African-American women honored in 1995 as "Unsung Heroines" by Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, for her establishment of the first Girl Scout troop in an African-American church in the late 1930s.
In February, she was honored by Fifth Third Bank and radio station WCIN-AM as one of "The Most Influential Blacks in Cincinnati Over the Past 50 Years."
In addition to her husband and her son, survivors include two sisters, Eula Lightfoot of Los Angeles and Lema Fegan of Jersey City, N.J. Visitation is 4-8 p.m. Monday and 10-11 a.m. Tuesday at Bethel Baptist Church, 2712 Alms Place, Walnut Hills. The funeral service follows at 11 a.m. at the church. Entombment will follow the funeral service in Spring Grove Memorial Mausoleum.
Memorials: Mary B. Brown Scholarship Fund, Bethel Baptist Church, 2712 Alms Place, Cincinnati 45206-1331.
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