William McKinley was president when she was born in 1904, and she would live to see 18 more take office.

Henrietta Peay Brown of Charlotte, whose eyes had seen much in the past 106 years, died April 10, 2011.

She was born in Blackstock, Chester County, S.C., and attended Chester schools. She joined New Zion Baptist Church in Fairfield County, S.C., and still called it her home church. She returned at least half a dozen times a year and was its oldest member.

Old Charlotte

She came to Charlotte in 1925 at age 21. This was in the era of thriving black neighborhoods near downtown – neighborhoods known as “Brooklyn” “Blue Heaven,” and Second and Third Wards, now homes Time Warner Cable Arena and the Carolina Panthers football stadium. Brookshire and John Belk expressways now carry traffic where “shotgun” houses once stood. Those houses and colorful businesses died in the city’s “urban renewal” of the 1960s.

There was also the “Queen City Classic” football game between the Second Ward Tigers and West Charlotte Lions. They were bitter rivals from 1947 to 1968.

Henrietta saw prices that today’s shoppers would not believe. Hotdogs cost a dime (some were a dozen for a dollar) and Irish potatoes 3 cents a pound and bananas for 10 cents a pound.

The Golden Rule

Church was a big thing in Henrietta’s life, and in 1925 she joined St. Paul Baptist Church and held various offices for 49 years. In 1974 she helped establish the First Mayfield Memorial Church, where she was a pastor’s aid and lent her voice to the choir. She served as a deaconess, missionary and member of the Young at Heart senior group.

She practiced the Golden Rule of “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” and it served her well. She believed her body was the Temple of Christ and never befouled it with alcohol or tobacco.

Henrietta met and married William E. Brown in the early 1930s and they welcomed son Clarence Andre, now deceased. They also adopted daughters Delores Foster and Barbara Mobley before William died in the early 1960s.

Henrietta’s personal motto dealt with trusting and believing in the Lord, her family said.

“She was pleasant to be around and blessed with a beautiful personality. She was well respected and often sought for her advice and wisdom,” her daughters said.

Most of Henrietta’s work was domestic, and she was known for her delicious cakes and pies – all made from scratch, of course. She still turned them out until very recently.

Henrietta enjoyed a long and productive life – and she lived it very well indeed.

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