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Mary "Betty" Brown

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Information about Mary "Betty" Brown

Profile image of Mary "Betty" Brown

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MedicalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civic Leader
Newspaper Columnist
Nurse

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Jewel Tones, Red
Favorite Food:
Trout, Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Italy, Paris, France, Switzerland
Favorite Quote:
Ye Know Not When The Son Of Man Is Coming, And I'm Ready.

Birthplace

Born:
3/7/1932
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
CivicMakers
MedicalMakers
Occupation(s):
Civic Leader
Newspaper Columnist
Nurse

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Jewel Tones, Red
Favorite Food:
Trout, Vegetables
Favorite Time of Year:
Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Italy, Paris, France, Switzerland
Favorite Quote:
Ye Know Not When The Son Of Man Is Coming, And I'm Ready.

Birthplace

Born:
3/7/1932
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Mary "Betty" Brown is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Civic leader, newspaper columnist, and nurse Mary Elizabeth “Betty” Brown has been a steady and stylish presence in Chicago and in Elgin, Illinois for more than thirty-five years. From her column, "Steppin Out with Betty Brown” in the Elgin Courier to serving as the first black nurse at Saint Joseph's Hospital in Joliet, Illinois, Brown has always been a trailblazer.

Born in Chicago, but raised in Schaumburg, Illinois on the estate of her father's employer, Brown and her two brothers had to learn to play quietly because the employer did not know his chauffeur's children lived in his coach house. Brown's mother also worked as the family cook, and after saving enough money, Thermon and Margaret Stephens moved their children to Elgin, Illinois. A multi-talented student of voice and dance, Brown was well known at her church, St. James AME Church, Wing Elementary and Elgin High School, but her mother discouraged her from pursuing singing.

Brown’s mother was a nurse's aide at Sherman Hospital and Brown decided to apply to the nursing program there, but she was promptly rejected. Disheartened, Brown approached St. Joseph's Hospital and became the first black nursing student in Joliet, Illinois. Not long after graduating, she married her sweetheart, Floyd Brown, who was just beginning to make a name for himself in Chicago radio. Brown served as a wardrobe and makeup consultant to Miss Illinois in the Miss America pageant for four years. She was named one of the One Hundred Women of Destiny selected by Marilyn Miglin & Associates. Brown received numerous awards for her civic work, including HI CHIC Award in Fashion, the Altrusa Outstanding Woman of the Year, Outstanding Woman in Advertising and the YMCA Margaret Henry Award.

Brown and her husband, Floyd Brown, live in Elgin, Illinois. They have two children and several grandchildren. Their son, F. Keith Brown, was the first black judge in the Northwestern Illinois suburbs. Their daughter, Diane Douglas, works in human resources.

Mary "Betty" Brown was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 26, 2006.

See how Mary "Betty" Brown is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mary "Betty" Brown's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes where she was born
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty Brown describes her siblings
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her parents' family backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her early childhood memories
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her experiences at Abby C. Wing School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her sibling rivalry with her brothers
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes Elgin High School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mary "Betty" Stephens describes her childhood career aspirations
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her experiences at Elgin High School
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Mary "Betty" Brown recounts the beginning of her nursing career
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes Elgin, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls her nursing experiences at Saint Joseph Hospital
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her training as a nurse
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls treating tuberculosis patients as a nurse
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown recounts meeting her husband, Floyd Brown
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls visiting family in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes living on the estate of her father's employer
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her and her husband's occupations
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls marrying Floyd Brown and the birth of her son
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her children
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her volunteer activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her private duty nursing and civil rights activities
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her experiences with racism
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her and her husband's careers
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls her activities after her children left for college
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls being a stylist for the Miss Illinois and Miss America pageants
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her fashion sense and extravagant wardrobe
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown remembers teaching etiquette classes
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes being a member of One Hundred Women of Destiny
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown recalls her work for the Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes being a society columnist
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes being a member of the Fashion Group International
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Mary "Betty" Brown explains why she chose to live in Elgin, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mary "Betty" Brown talks about establishing her own identity
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mary "Betty" Brown details learning how to iron from her mother
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her children's musical talents
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her son's cooking
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her grandchildren
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mary "Betty" Brown reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mary "Betty" Brown describes her close-knit community in Elgin, Illinois
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Mary "Betty" Brown talks about travelling with her husband and continuing her column
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Mary "Betty" Brown remembers her mother and grandmother