Barbara Saunders Brown, 81, of Wake Forest, died Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, at the Kate B. Reynolds Hospice Home in Winston-Salem. Barbara was born Sept. 8, 1932, in Morganton, the daughter of the late Vera Coxwell Saunders and Dr. John R. Saunders. She was raised in Richmond, Va. and graduated from Wake Forest University in 1954, when she was the Big Four golf champion.
Mrs. Brown was mentored at Wake Forest by hall of famers, Marge Crisp and Dot Casey. It was under their tutelage that she developed her passion for education and coaching. This led to a 31-year career in which she taught history and physical education and coached basketball, softball, volleyball and track and field. Mrs. Brown brought the first ever Girl’s State basketball championship to Wake Forest-Rolesville High School and her volleyball and track and field teams were undefeated for 17 straight seasons. Her career culminated with being named the first female athletic director in the state.
After retirement, Mrs. Brown was appointed to Wake Forest’s recreation board and the Wake County Board of Recreation. She became the first female chairman of both organizations and passionately drove improvement and the creation of multiple parks and recreation facilities as well as expanded athletic leagues and facilities for children. Mrs. Brown was a charter member of the Wake Forest Kiwanis Club and became its first female chairman.
Mrs. Brown was preceded in death by her husband, Robert L. Brown. She is survived by her son, Robert Michael Brown and his wife, Leslie Burnette Brown, of Bermuda Run; grandchildren, Katie of Chapel Hill and Zach of Bermuda Run; sister, Jan Hemric and her husband, Dick, of North Canton, Ohio; and brother, John R. Saunders Jr. and his wife, Mary Nick, of Richmond.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Brown-Saunders Scholarship Fund, c/o WFU Deacon Club, P.O. Box 7526, Winston-Salem, N.C. 27109.
Visitation was Wednesday evening at Bright Funeral Home and Cremation Center, 405 S. Main St. A celebration of Mrs. Brown’s life will be held today (Thursday), Jan. 30 at 2 p.m. in Binkley Chapel on the Southeastern Seminary Campus. Online condolences may be made at www.brightfunerals.com.