On Tuesday, December 6, 2011, an exceptional man passed on. Luther E. Brown, Jr. was a patriarch, a musician, an educator-a true renaissance man. Luther approached life with unmatched determination and zeal. He feared no one. Born in Taylor, Texas, he was the eldest son of Luther E. Brown, Sr. founding pastor of Mount Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in fifth ward, Houston.
At age 16, already a budding musician, he played trumpet in pool halls to earn cash. At 17, he joined the Coast Guard and went to sea as a Navy gunner in World War II where he saw action in the Pacific. A scrappy teen, he could fight his way out of any shipboard brawl. With GI bill in hand, and a new mature lease on life, Luther entered Dillard University where he studied classical music and began a life-long love of strings- he became a cellist.
At college, he also met his first wife and mentor, Jennie, an accomplished pianist. Luther continued his studies at Texas Southern University earning Masters degrees in music and in education. He began a very dynamic career with the Houston Independent School District. As a music educator, he was a trail blazer. He started the first string program for Houston’s inner city students, even bringing in members of the Houston Symphany Orchestra to conduct string clinics. As an assistant pricipal, Luther was the unofficial “clean up man.” He brought order where it was wanting, doling out equal parts compassion and discipline. He earned the nickname “Buster Brown” at the many schools he served including E. O. Smith, Ryan, Miller, Key, Jefferson Davis and Yates, among others. Most of all, he cared for his students and his community. He believed in the capacity of the children he educated and had high expectations of all.
In his personal life, Luther was a go-getter. He played cello in The Scott Joplin Orchestra and their string quartet. He enjoyed sports and played tournament tennis. (He met his second wife Mary Helen on the tennis court.) He was also an avid skier. Luther loved community service. He worked with at-risk youth post retirement at HISD’s Foley Academy. He was a member of the Ebony Opera Guild; he hosted graduate exchange students. He was also a founding member of the Rutherford B. Yates Museum Foundation.
Luther maintained ties to Mount Carmel but worshipped at Pilgrim First Congregationalist Church for many years. He then joined Houston’s First Unversalist Unitarian Church where he remained for two decades. Brother Brown was initiated at the ….
Luther is survived by a wonderful family including children: Amina Alquhaar (Sharon Grace), Elisa Brown, Meredith Brown, Michael Brown; grandchildren: Adillah, Tauhirah, Ali, Adam and Joy; nephews and nieces: Arvis, Cassandra, Donald, Charmaine, Dacia, Norman, Cedric, Alan and Earl and his beloved cousin Jacqueline Brown, MD