Spirit, Legacy Live on
Throughout the months of February and March, we celebrate Black History Month and Women’s History Month, respectively, highlighting the historical contributions of African-Americans and women to our society. As we embark upon these seasons, I would like to take the opportunity to celebrate a truly extraordinary African-American woman named Mrs. Lillie Mae Brownlee.
Mrs. Brownlee was very well known throughout our community for her kind demeanor, compassionate spirit, and her gift of hospitality. She routinely opened her home to anyone in need, and had a true love for all people, regardless of race, gender or socio-economic status.
Sadly, Mrs. Brownlee departed this world in November. However, her spirit and legacy live on. In fact, it is even more vital that we celebrate Mrs. Brownlee during this time, because we need constant reminders of our God-given calling to care for one another.
Mrs. Brownlee had a sincere love for the Lord, which permeated all her actions. In fact, her love makes me think of the Scripture found in Galatians 6:9, which reminds us not to get tired of doing what is good, because at the right time we will reap a harvest of blessings if we don’t give up.
Mrs. Brownlee was able to bless so many people simply because she never stopped trying to do the right thing. We all can be inspired by her desire to do the right thing; and prayerfully, we will not grow tired of doing well, and we, too, will reap God’s harvest of blessings.
Mrs. Brownlee also exhibited a spirit of hospitality, which is found in Hebrews 13:1-2. In this Scripture, we are reminded to keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters, showing hospitality to strangers, because we might be entertaining angels. Mrs. Brownlee showed kindness to everyone in need, whether she knew them or not, even if they were different. Often, we are hesitant to help people that we do not know, especially if they are different. We must all remember the spirit of Mrs. Lillie Mae Brownlee, and continue to show hospitality to everyone — no matter who they are.
This season, as we celebrate the achievements of both African-Americans and women, remember Mrs. Lillie Mae Brownlee, a remarkable African-American woman. In addition, as we remember her, let’s reproduce her desire to do what’s right by showing kindness and hospitality to everyone. Remember, in doing this we are not only paying homage to the legacy of Mrs. Brownlee, we are also giving honor to God. – The Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Cousin, Sr. is pastor of Allen Temple AME church in Woodstock.
-The Rev. Dr. Joseph N. Cousin, Sr. is pastor of Allen Temple AME church in Woodstock.
From Woodstock Mayor Donnie Henriques
“I remember meeting Lillie Mae and Dude in 2000, when I first got on council and they invited me to their annual Christmas open house. I arrived with my daughter, who was about 8 at the time. When we walked in, Maddie went up to them and gave them a hug. From then on, we were always invited back, as long as I would bring her with me, Ms. Lillie Mae told me.
“Then in 2006, my first year as mayor, we had the Spinners, a black R&B group, as our first concert of the year. I took a polaroid instant picture before the concert with the group. After the concert, I ran into Lillie Mae with her family, and I took out the picture and showed her. She looks at it for a few seconds, then looks up at me and said, ‘Which one is you?’ That was her in a nutshell … a great sense of humor.”
From Janice Johnston Kane
Posted on Facebook Nov. 19, 2018, the day Mrs. Brownlee passed away.
“Early this morning, precious Lillie Mae Brownlee joined the angels in Heaven. She was already an angel on this earth, pure in heart and spirit, filled with trust, acceptance, love and forgiveness … a true child of God, with such a deep, abiding faith. She was an important part of my life from my earliest memories, teaching me so much about goodness, mercy and love. After our mother died when I was 7, Mae stepped in and helped fill the hole in the hearts of my sister Lucy, brother Smith and me. She was our touchstone, and poured her love on us like a healing balm. In later years, when we were out together, she would tell people that I was her daughter. And I was.
“Mae had no enemies. In all of my 69 years, I never heard one negative word from her sweet mouth about anyone. She was pure love in action, and would defend any and everyone. She taught me how to be forgiving, to help people when they were sick or in need. She taught me how to cook, and I watched her feed practically the whole town of Woodstock! Her Christmas Tea was legendary, all the profits going to her beloved church.
“Mae was an ambassador for her church. She and her husband, Jay (Dude), raised money and, with help from friends, literally built their little church on Arnold Mill Road. Wherever Mae went, she always reached out to people. I drove my mom [Janice’s father remarried] and Mae from Woodstock to Michigan for my daughter Natalie’s wedding years ago. It was an epic trip, with so many priceless memories. But each stop we made, be it Cracker Barrel, outlet malls, motels, etc., Mae would always go up to perfect strangers. I can hear her now saying, ‘How you? Where you from? If you come to Woodstock, come to my church!’ And, they did come to see her and her church. From all places. Mae had that effect on people. They sensed how she was so special and filled with the light of deep faith and love for her God and everyone else. I would just sit back in awe and watch her in action, for all my life. There was no one like her and never will be.”
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