‘Moral leader’ for Greenwich: historic town leader Nancy Brown dies at 88

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GREENWICH – Called “a great healer and sympathizer of the people of Greenwich,” Nancy Brown is remembered as an icon in the history of the city government committed to providing for the less fortunate by those in need. knew her and loved her.

Brown died on March 11 in Bridgeport Hospital from lymphoma. She was 88 years old.

A town resident for 65 years, Brown was the town’s director of community development from 1978 to 2007 – the first black woman to head a town department in Greenwich’s history.

“She had this way of herself that was very confident and sure of herself,” Myra Klockenbrink, Brown’s daughter-in-law said Friday. “But at the same time, she was very withdrawn. She’s gained so much recognition and accomplished so much – but she never wore it.

“She had that kind of Southern way that was so graceful, and she opposed a lot of the limelight and attention given to her,” Klockenbrink said. “When she was recognized, she was always kind. She had a nice way of her.

Brown, who lived in an assisted living facility until shortly before her death, never lost what made her special – not even when she was hospitalized, Klockenbrink said.

Staff at both “tripped over looking after her because she was so adorable,” Klockenbrink said. “Everyone who came in contact with her, I think, was uplifted just by her presence.

U.S. Representative Jim Himes, D-4th District, fondly remembered Brown on Friday. Himes knew Brown through his role as chairman of the Democratic City of Greenwich committee and through his time on the Estimates and Taxation Council and as chairman of the council of commissioners for housing authority.

“She was so important to the city,” Himes said. He recalled his work to administer the Community Development Block Grants, which provide essential support to the city’s nonprofit services. “She has always been associated with this effort, with so many philanthropic efforts and with the city’s social services. She was a great healer and a supporter of the people of Greenwich.

After stepping down as the city’s director of community development in 2007, Brown became more active in city politics, he said. But she didn’t want to be seen as a partisan politician.

“She was a wonderful person,” Himes said. “She was one of those rare people who never had a bad thing to say about anyone. She has always been thrilled to volunteer and be a part of things in the city.

First Selectman Fred Camillo offered his condolences to his friends and family.

“Nancy has always been a positive presence in the city,” said Camillo. “I have seen her for many years and I never remember seeing her without a smile on her face. It’s a pretty good legacy to leave. She was always smiling, always kind and always optimistic.

Brown’s civic and social commitments covered a lot of ground. She was a member of the board of directors of Family Centers Inc. and served on the representative city meeting of Greenwich. She also helped found the Southwestern Fairfield County Urban League in 1969.

In 1976, she became director of First Woman’s Bank and Trust, which her family describes as a pioneering bank for women that provides loans regardless of gender or marital status. He also sensitized women to the creation of credit and the granting of loans.

His passion for helping people stood out from former Selectman Drew Marzullo, who was in regular contact with Brown until the pandemic struck last year.

“I can honestly say that Nancy Brown was one of the most influential people I have ever met,” said Marzullo. “Kind, awesome, funny and always available to offer advice when needed. I loved and adored him on every level. To say she will be missed would be an understatement.

Brown’s family recalled that they had actively campaigned for presidential candidates Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, whose election in 2008 was of great personal importance to them.

“I remember her telling me how proud she was to vote for Sen. Barack Obama, ”said Marzullo. “And I thought his election day would never come. But it did. And how happy she was.

All of Brown’s work in the community, especially helping girls and women, earned him a YWCA Greenwich Spirit of Greenwich award in 2014. YWCA President and CEO Mary Lee Kiernan, who knew Brown well, explained Brown’s impact on Greenwich and said she was “One of my she-roes.”

“Nancy was truly a brilliant, thoughtful and moral leader for this community and for the region,” said Kiernan. “She had an incredible work ethic. She has always been a focus on gender and race equity in her work. She has been incredibly productive and constructive in her role as administrator of the Community Development Block Grant and in her many roles as a volunteer with the Fairfield County Community Foundation and other organizations.

She has also done volunteer work and advocacy work for the Women and Girls Advisory Council. Among her honors, Brown was named Woman of the Year by the Greenwich Women Civic Club in 1987 and received the State Office of the Treasurer Contributions to the Community Award in 2005, the Greenwich Bar Association Liberty Bell Award and the Greenwich Democratic Town Committee Lifetime Achievement. Price in 2018.

Brown’s life and legacy was celebrated this week at a Greenwich DTC reunion by BET member Jeff Ramer.

Howard Richman, a resident of the city, who has worked with Brown on Democratic campaigns, including his own, remembered her as a friend he had known for decades.

“She has always been someone who went into everything she did for the community,” said Richman. “She’s been involved in so many different ways, and she’s made the city a better place for all she’s done for the community.

Brown left a “powerful legacy,” former Republican top pick Peter Tesei said. He recalls her work in community development – she “meticulously administered the program” with in-depth knowledge of all organizations asking for help – and highlighted her leadership by chairing the housing task force for the community. city ​​conservation and development plan 2009.

“Nancy was a very elegant woman,” Tesei said. “She was very determined to provide for the less fortunate living in Greenwich. … I found her a real joy to work with and someone who made a difference in the lives of people in the city who needed this advocacy.

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