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Joel Brown

September 8, 1923 June 1, 2021
Joel  Brown
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Obituary for Joel Brown

A celebration of Joel's life will occur on

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Wood Funeral Home, Inc.
5537-39 West Girard avenue
Philadelphia, Pa. 19131

Public Viewing Only: 5:00- 630 p.m.

Homegoing Service will conclude on

Friday, June 18, 2021

Green Funeral Home
309 South church Street
Lake City, South Carolina 29560

Viewing: 10:30 - 11:00 a.m.

Service: 11:00 a.m.

Interment: Rest Lawn Cemetery (South Carolina)

An Incredible Journey—The Life of Joel Brown

Joel Brown was born in on September 8, 1923, in Williamsburg, South Carolina. His parents were Josh Brown and Ida (Singletary) Brown. He was the second oldest out of eight children with four sisters in the house during his time living with his parents. His siblings were Annie, Julia, Lilly Mae, Sarah, John Wesley, Jessie Mae and Winnie Mae.

His Father Josh was a share cropper which meant hard labor was a fact of life. Growing up in an era of Jim Crow’s racist policies and the near collapse of America’s economy with the Great Depression, it came as no surprise that Joel was expected to join his father to work in the field. He would go to school daily until noon, then return to the farm to work. As with so many people of color during this time, education was discouraged and Joel left school early.

When asked about his childhood, Joel remarked that often white farmers were put in positions of power as overseers, making sure that black farmers met their quotas. When he was told that he could no longer attend school by a white sharecropper, he asked if the daughters of the white sharecropper would have to work the fields too, because they were his playmates. The man replied “no,” and said that they would be going school. Joel said, “In those days, if blacks were caught talking back to whites they would be hanged.” During this oppressive time, Joel recalled one of his cousins being beaten on multiple occasions; to Joel, life was not something to be taken for granted. Joel also remembered during elections that white men would take trucks filled with black people to vote, and told them which candidates they would have to support. (Sadly, Joel departed this life disheartened by the current attack on civil rights including attempts to reverse and abandon voting rights).

At the age of 16, Joel began working with a construction crew that built houses as part of the public works project. Although he started as a water-boy, Joel’s intelligence combined with a meticulous and stellar work ethic saw him promoted to oversee the production of concrete blocks for foundations. When the project ended, Joel left his familiar surroundings to pursue opportunities in the North; subsequently, he moved in with his aunt and began working at the Budd Company where materials for the Great War were manufactured. Soon after his employment at Budd, Joel was drafted and given the promise his job would be waiting when he returned.

Joel recalled racism in the military which included, but was not limited to, Black soldiers not being allowed to eat in the mess hall until their white counterparts had finished—this led to more than one protest by soldiers of color. Nevertheless, Joel persevered and his military assignments took him to England and France, before landing in Normandy during World War II, he was then stationed in Belgium as an army special security police officer (SP) protecting supplies for the allied soldiers.

While on leave from his military service, Joel reunited with his childhood sweetheart and married Rutherlee Jenkins; subsequently, he was honorably discharged. During his married life, Joel studied and participated in numerous professional and personal development courses, earning a sundry of certifications. He was recognized for his distinguished work ethic at the Budd Company where he served not only as shop steward but later as a shift/floor supervisor, one who had oversight over several foremen in their supervisory roles.

He was happily married, raising two children, a daughter, Seener, and a son, Johnny. Joel, a man who accepted Christ as his personal Savior in his Youth, conducted himself in manner exhibiting Christian comportment, fully supporting his wife who was an ardent member of the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ of the Apostolic Faith; Joel embraced the role of father and ensured his children would be raised in a Christian household that sought God first and promoted formal education. His progeny would serve God as members of the clergy and find professional careers in banking, law, higher education, and music production.

Joel was an avid hunter, fisherman and sports fan (especially of wrestling, baseball, football and basketball). He was a man who believed in self-discipline. God blessed him to have a loving close knit family and to witness America’s outgrowth from Jim Crow to see Barrack Obama’s US Presidency, Kamala Harris’ US Vice Presidency, along with two black US Attorney Generals, and a US Defense Secretary.

Joel lived 97 years before succumbing to natural causes. He lost his wife, Rutherlee, in 1986. He is survived by his daughter Seener (Nathaniel), son, Johnny (Ruth), grandsons, Nathaniel Jr. and Gianni, sister, Sarah (Joseph), brother John Wesley (Helen), brother-in-law, Luther Jenkins, a host of nieces and nephews and a goddaughter, Diane. May God bless his soul.

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