Evelyn Anne Thigpen Brown, 82, former president and regional director of NC Garden Club

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Evelyn Anne Thigpen Brown
Evelyn Anne Thigpen Brown

Evelyn Anne Thigpen Brown, 82, passed away Friday, May 27, 2016, at New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington. Anne was the eldest of 17 grandchildren of her maternal grandparents, E.J. and Hettie Rose Pipkin, who settled in the Rhodes Friends Community of Wayne County in late 1800s.

Her paternal grandparents were the Rev. James and Georgianna Thigpen of Duplin County. On December 26, 1933, Anne was the firstborn of Herbert E. and Margaret Pipkin Thigpen of the rural Rhodes Friends Community of Wayne County. The Thigpen family grew with the addition of a brother, Jimmy, and three younger siblings, Betty, Mary and George, affectionately dubbed, ‘The Children.’

For a lifetime, Anne was a loving, generous, devoted and doting beloved older sister who served as a role model for her younger siblings. An honor graduate of Grantham High School in 1952, Anne and her brother, Jimmy, were renowned for their musical ability and frequently performed at weddings, schools, churches, local and state 4-H events and eventually leading to a Sunday Afternoon Radio Show at WGBR in Goldsboro. Anne was not only a talented musician. She was also an outstanding clothing designer who won many sewing competitions, including first place in NC Statewide 4-H Dress Review.

Her grandparents were instrumental in maintaining the Rhodes Friends Quaker Meeting and Anne and Jimmy provided musical contributions for services. A birthright Quaker, it was fitting that Anne elected to attend Guilford College in Greensboro. A brief career in Raleigh led to the introduction and 62-year marriage to North Carolina State ROTC graduate Dr. Carey Edward Brown Jr., formerly of Bethel. Following their marriage at Goldsboro Friends Meeting, their first tour of duty was in Montgomery, Ala., where Anne completed her B.S. degree at Huntington College. For 20-plus years, Anne and Ed shared a rich and exotic life traveling the world as a military couple, finally settling in Colorado Springs with Ed teaching at the Air Force Academy. Professionally, Anne excelled as a G-13 in the personnel department at the academy.

In her spare time, Anne pursued and mastered the art of oil painting, gourmet cooking, and playing the organ, nurturing her creative genius, while providing care for their beloved Brittany spaniels, Freckles and Ginger, and later, their adopted feline, Cady. Following a stint in the Air Force, and completing his doctorate in physiology at Colorado State, Ed and Anne retired to Louisburg, where Ed began a second career in education, serving first as academic dean and eventually vice president and interim President of Louisburg College. Anne made use of her business degree and served as secretary and administrative assistant of Louisburg Methodist Church for 20 years.

Her roots, growing up on a farm in Wayne County and returning to the local rural small town of Louisburg, became the backdrop for Anne’s love of the soil and environment. This love led to her involvement in the local garden club. This passion and her leadership skills elevated her to a lifetime membership with service; first as the NC Garden Club president; and then, national status as the South Atlantic regional director. In her tenure as president, her greatest legacy was bringing NC into the 21st century, utilizing Ed’s knowledge of technology to develop a website for the NC Garden Clubs, earning him the honor and appointment of lifetime membership for his contributions.

She affectionately took great pleasure in using her many talents for entertaining family and always acknowledging and valuing tradition as the cornerstone of each gathering. Each family celebration was thoughtfully and meticulously completed with elegant detail making family events elaborate and memorable. The 62-year union of Anne and Ed encompassed a lifetime of lasting love and great joy, touching and influencing five generations.

In addition to her parents, Herbert and Margaret P. Thigpen, Anne was preceded in death by her brother, James E. Thigpen; and dear brother-in-law, James Barnes.

Left to treasure her memory and legacy are her husband, Dr. Carey Edward Brown Jr., of Wilmington; three siblings, Betty Thigpen Wiggins (Harold) of Fayetteville, Dr. Mary Alice Thigpen Barnes of Wilmington and Dr. George D. Thigpen (Linda) of Goldsboro, and special sister-in-law, Elizabeth Thigpen of Carolina Beach; plus a host of extended family members comprised of loving nieces and nephews, adorable great-nephews and great-nieces and longtime caretakers, Faye Miller, Lynette Watkins and Amy Jones of Franklin County. At Anne and Ed’s residence in Louisburg, Anthony Carter was invaluable in assisting with home and garden care. Former, beloved pastor and personal friends, Larry and Zelma Williams, provided much spiritual assistance during Anne and Ed’s relocation to Wilmington and as they both experienced ill health.

In Anne’s honor, a memorial service is planned for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 4, at Winter Park Baptist Church, 4700 Wrightsville Ave., Wilmington, with Sr. Pastor Eric Porterfield officiating. A prelude video, ’80 Years in 40 Minutes,’ will begin at 1:15 p.m.

In Anne’s memory, donations may be made to The Garden Club of North Carolina Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 33520, Raleigh, NC 27636-3520.

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