PLANT CITY – A building at a local church has been named in memory of a woman who devoted her life to nurturing children.
Annette Brown adopted a total of six children and fostered about 100 more prior to her death in 1991 at age 86. She and her husband Leroy, who died in 1975, were childless and started taking in children to fulfil her desire to have a large family. Some of the children she took in were even left on the doorstep of their Plant City home.
On Nov. 23, the multipurpose room at Emanuel Seventh-Day Adventist Church was dedicated as the Annette Brown Learning Center.
She was a founding member of the church, and donated $8,000 for construction of its Alabama Street sanctuary.
“Her vision was to always have a Christian school,” church Pastor Georges Fleurimond said.
At the center, the church will offer after-school tutoring on FCAT preparedness and other subjects.
One of her adopted sons, Moses Brown, said his mother would be proud.
“It’s a dream come true,” Brown said of the building’s conversion into a learning center.
The dedication service included singing, a keynote address from Pastor Jonathan McCottry, and a presentation from City Commissioner Bill Dodson, who read a proclamation from Mayor Mary Mathis declaring Nov. 23 as Annette Brown Day.
“It’s a great day in Plant City when we get to do these kinds of things,” Dodson said, noting that Brown’s selfless love for others left a lasting legacy.
“She loved God, people, and her church,” he said. “She wanted children others didn’t want.”
Moses Brown, who is a minister, recalled that his adopted mother wanted the children she nurtured to get a good education.
“She was a noted individual who gave us the opportunity to make choices,” Brown said.
He said that reading was an important part of growing up, with books always available in their home.
Born Nov. 17, 1904, Brown was married for 50 years to her husband Leroy. Apart from her work with children and her church, she also owned a beauty salon, a restaurant, and several rental properties.
Brown was instrumental in donating money for the multipurpose building that has now been named for her. Fleurimond hopes to offer more and more educational services at the center.
“We would love to finish out the work of Annette Brown,” he said.