Dr. Joe Ellis Brown, Sr.May 24, 1933 ~ January 7, 2018 (age 84)
Funeral Services for the Honorable Dr. Joe Ellis Brown will be held Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. at the Bible Way Church on Atlas Road, 2440 Atlas Road, Columbia, South Carolina with burial in the Greenlawn Memorial Park, 7100 Garners Ferry Road, Columbia, South Carolina. Dr. Joe E. Brown will lie in state in the Chappelle Auditorium, Allen University, 1530 Harden Street, Columbia, South Carolina, on Friday, January 12, 2018 from 2:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. The family will be available to meet and greet friends from 6:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. during the viewing. Wilson Funeral Home, Newberry South Carolina is in charge of the arrangements. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Joe E. Brown Scholarship Fund at the First Citizens Bank, contact person is Amy Lea, 803-931-1017.
The Honorable Dr. Joe Ellis Brown, the son of Prue Ellis and Elouise Grant Brown, a native of Anderson County, was born and raised in Pendleton, SC. After graduating from Allen University, he decided to make Columbia, S.C. his new home. Brown started his career as a teacher at Atlas Road Elementary School, Columbia, SC. Within his first year of teaching, Dr. Brown was promoted to principal, which made him one of the youngest persons, if not the youngest, to be promoted as a principal in Richland County School District One. He continued his studies and received his master’s degree in 1961 from SC State University. During the 1964-65 school year, Dr. Brown accepted a position in North Carolina but returned to Richland County School District One the following year as a result of the students, parents and the leadership of the Hopkins community.
During his 30 years as a principal, he served Atlas Road Elementary, Hopkins High and Junior High Schools, and I. Ellis Johnson High School, Laurinburg, NC. To this day, you can still hear his former students saying phrases he often shared to motivate and guide them toward excellence such as, “Make the Best Better!” and “You are here for a reason and not for a season!” In addition to his career as an educator, Dr. Brown was the owner/manager of Brown’s Enterprise (bus touring company, a fuel oil company, several service stations, a pool hall, and other business ventures).
After retiring from the field of education and business, he decided to pursue a career in Government. He ran and was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives, District 73. During his tenure, on January 9, 2001, Dr. Brown became the highest-ranking Democrat in the General Assembly of S.C. and held the honor of being the longest ever serving black legislator in the S.C. House of Representatives (21 years), as well as the distinction of being the first African-American male to chair one of the seven standing committees in the Southern Legislative Conference, Human Service and Public Safety Committee.
Dr. Brown served as an annexation planner for the city of Columbia, S.C. He worked diligently without pay to have predominately African-American communities annexed into the city from 1987-2009. His 12-year annexation movement brought additional black voters to Columbia’s election rolls and was a major emphasis for electing the city’s first Black mayor. With over 50 years of serving others, Dr. Brown would cap off his long years of public service by returning to his beloved Allen University, where he volunteered full-time, every day working with alumni affairs, undergraduate affairs, the Student Mentoring Program and the Legislators’ Archive Project. He also served as the president of the Allen University 1000+ Plus Club. Dr. Brown cherished each opportunity to develop, mentor, share words of encouragement and provide financial support and a helping hand to anyone in need.
Dr. Brown has received numerous achievements and honors to include the Alpha Phi Alpha’s Charles W. Green Award, Allen University’s Renaissance Award and induction into the school’s "Hall of Fame", induction into the Richland County School District One’s Hall Fame, the United Negro College Fund National Alumni Council Outstanding Alumni Award, The Order of the Palmetto, The Senate “Order of the Palmetto Patriot”, BellSouth African-American History Calendar Honoree, The Naming of North Main and I-20 Highway as the “Joe E. Brown Interchange”, the NAFEO (National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education) Distinguished Alumni Citation of the Year Award, and Recipient of a Honorary Ph.D. of Arts and Humanities, Allen University. He has been named “Legislator of the Year” by the S.C. State Troopers Coalition, S.C. Association of Nurse Anesthetists, U.S. Youth Games, and S.C. Home
Care Association. He has also served on numerous boards and commissions and holds a life membership in several organizations to include: Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Dr. Brown came to the Hopkins community in 1959 and he still served as an active member of the
Hopkins community until his passing. He was an active member of St. John Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and former church auditor. Dr. Brown was a dedicated family man with outstanding leadership abilities. He was married to Dorothy Henderson Brown, and they were the parents of four children.
Dr. Brown is survived by his wife of 62 years, Dorothy Henderson Brown, daughters: Angela Gay and L’Tanya Gabriel, a sister; Amanda Williford, Sister and Brother-in-Law, Patricia and John Caldwell, and a host of nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by a daughter, the late Kathy Ann, a son, the late Joe Ellis Brown, Jr., and three sisters, the late Mary Staggers, the Late Carrie Williams, and the Late Eloise Brown.