President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf last Saturday praised Dr. Mary Nema Brownell, acknowledging that her letters of advice, and in particular those that criticized her, inspired her and a lot of women in the country.
In a tribute to her memory, at the official funeral held at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Monrovia, President Sirleaf said Mother Brownell was an outstanding advisor who guided her well and sometimes criticized her through letters. She said Mother Brownell impacted her life, along with many others and played a leading role in peace building efforts in Liberia and the world recognized what she had done.
“I had great affection for Sister Mary and the love we shared will forever live with me and, I guess all of you, too who when she was alive were fortunate to meet her,” President Sirleaf said.
“Sister Mary did not fear to tell me the truth at all times, not even as the President. She treated me like her little sister that she wanted to see do her best at all times to serve the nation,” she stated.
President Sirleaf said even though Mother Brownell is gone, her life still lives on. “Mother’s lives on through every Liberian woman in what they do, and what they say; how they act; how they prepare themselves; how they behave. It lives on in every young girl who goes to school and aspires to be a leader; who can go back and read what she has done and be inspired and motivated to be able to achieve what they see in life,” she said.
She consoled the bereaved family and encouraged them to take solace in the Lord and in God’s strength because God did not bring them this far to leave them.
President Sirleaf said the late Mary Brownell distinguished her as a role model like Angie Brooks-Randolph, Madam Nehn Suakoko, and and D. Musuleng Cooper.
Foreign Minister Marjon Kamara, on behalf of the Government of Liberia, described the peace activist as one of Liberia’s foremost women advocates that served served her country diligently with truthfulness, decency and commitment. She also described Mrs. Brownell’s death as a national loss.
Delivering the Funeral Discourse, the Very Rev. Canon James B. Sele, Dean, Trinity Cathedral who spoke on the theme, “The Mark of a Successful Christian Life: Faith and Service,” described the late peace icon as a ‘humble servant and humanitarian’ who impacted the Church and her environment meaningfully – offering her time, life and services to the advancement of God’s work and humanity.
Rev. Fr. Sellee quoted Psalm 19:10, “More to be desired are they, the virtuous women than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.”
“She exemplified the qualities of a great leader, a mother and stateswoman,” Dean Sellee recalled. “She took the affairs of her church as her personal affairs and treated each with great respect, a vacuum has been created which might be very difficult to refill.”
Delivering the family tribute, Mitta Fahnbulleh said, “What speaks to the selflessness of my mother today are not the praises here, because they are common at almost every funeral; but the educated men and women among us here who received her mentoring and instructions, the school houses around Monrovia and beyond that received her as their administrator, other institutions of government, including the National Elections Commission (NEC) and the Monrovia Consolidated School System (MCSS) and most importantly, her advocacy for social justice and peace in this country and the sub region.”
Dr. Mary Brownell served the University of Liberia as instructor, administrator and later took the principal post at the Botswain Elementary and Junior High School after leaving the Bong High School as its principal in 1978.
The official gazette, prepared by the Government of Liberia to her memory, states that with distinction, she served the National Elections Commission as Commissioner during the 2005 presidential and general elections. Before that, she was the founder and national chairperson of Liberia Women’s Initiative (LWI); President, Women Development Association of Liberia (WODAL); Principal, Boatswain Elementary and Junior High School, Monrovia and Bong Mines School, respectively; patriot, administrator, humanitarian, disciplinarian, octogenarian, eminent civil rights and peace advocate, devout Christian and dedicated public servant.
Dr. Brownell, who died at age 88 at the J.F.K. Medical Center on March 14, 2017, was born unto the union of Counselor Nete-Sie Brownell and Mother Elizabeth Wede Wallace on March 12, 1929 in Cavalla, Maryland County. Burial took place at the Brownell Farm in Cinta, Margibi County.