So the Lord isn't the God of the dead, but of the living. This means that everyone is alive as far as God is concerned. Jesus, Luke 20:38 CEV

Sunday, March 24, 2024


 Today is the 112th birthday of my grandmother, Thelma Irene Brown.  

Thelma Irene Brown
25 March 1912 - 16 April 1991

"Nana" loved everybody. From her perspective, everyone in the world is all related as one great family. She never set out to prove or document it, but she loved to travel and enthusiastically celebrate auld and new acquaintances with gusto, talking kin with everyone she met. Her religion had little, if anything, to do with what people believed and everything to do with how they acted and treated each other. I never heard her argue about religious beliefs. Usually, if someone said something she disagreed with, she would just wrinkle her nose and make a cute face to express her disapproval, albeit sometimes silently staring a hole through them but more often cutting her eyes and offering a sweet smile. She was LGBTQ+ affirming when affirming wasn't cool, and she said same-gender couples who were in love should marry. Her deeply devoted and unconditional love held our wonderful cousins and extended family together closely in special ways throughout her life as no one else could. She never had time to not love anyone.

My grandmother grew up as a PK (preacher's kid) in Sumner County, Tennessee, on the Kentucky line near Westmoreland, and Hopkins County, Texas, near Cumby, under extreme economic hardships. She was afflicted with polio as a child. In their teenage years, she and her two sisters moved to Indianapolis to work in a nylon factory. She and my grandfather met, fell in love, and were married at Central Avenue Methodist Church (recently renovated as Indiana Landmarks Campus). As a young mother, she spent the first two years of my father's life confined to Sunnyside Terburuculosis Sanitarium. After that, no one could hold her back. 

Nana was a bundle of energy who slowed down for no person. A newspaper search yields a plethora of articles in the Noblesville Ledger about the activities of organizations, friends, family, and neighbors. She loved to host a variety of social events, which often included gathering around the piano for group singalongs. She was as likely to be found tuckpointing a chimney on the roof as at a formal gala sharing corsages she had made from her beautiful flower gardens. She and my grandfather sold Christmas trees every year in the sideyard. She wheeled and dealed at her garage sales, which she often held, with all kinds of antiques and household items she constantly collected and refurbished. She kept several bee hives in a small grove of cherry trees, ensuring daily honey and lots of cherry pies. All this only scratches the surface of her extremely adventurous life.

Irene taught Sunday School at Carmel United Methodist Church. She served as Worthy Matron in the Carmel Chapter No. 581 of the Order of the Eastern Star. She was very active in the West Delaware Home Demonstration Club and the Hamilton County Indiana Extension Homemakers.

Thelma Irene Brown and William Malcolm James Lawson were married on 1 November 1929. They had one son, my father, William Harris Lawson Sr, and one daughter, Dorothy Irene Lawson, who died at birth. They had one foster daughter, Betty Louise Mundy. Twenty-one years after my grandfather's passing, Irene married Allen John Lindley on 26 November 1988 at Carmel Wesleyan Church, with my father and I assisting the pastor as officiants. She died on 16 April 1991 and was buried beside my grandfather in the Masonic Garden at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens in Hamilton County, Indiana. 

Permanent Archive

Brown Surname Lineage

William Brown 1705-1807, father of  Leonard Seale Brown 1740-1833, father of  Robert Kimbrough Brown 1774-1849, father of  Jeremiah Harris Brown 1799-1880, father of  William Hiram Brown 1829-1905, father of  James Henry Brown 1855-1939, father of  Harris Brown Brown, father of  Thelma Irene Brown 1912-1991, mother of  William Harris Lawson Sr 1931-2000, father of the author.

Brown Migration

North Carolina > Tennessee > Texas > Indiana 

My 7th great-grandfather, William Brown, lived in Caswell County, North Carolina. There, his son Robert Kimbrough Brown was born. He then moved with his son Jeremiah Harris Brown to Sumner County, Tennessee, where the succeeding generations remained. My great-grandparents, Harris Brown Brown and Ina Belle Benton, also lived seasonally in Hopkins County, Texas, near Cumby. My grandmother, Thelma Irene Brown, and her two sisters moved in their teenage years to Indianapolis, Indiana, where my father and I were born. 


United States of America
  • Indiana
    • Hamilton County | Carmel 
    • Marion County | Indianapolis
  • North Carolina
    • Caswell County | Hillsboro
  • Tennessee
    • Sumner County | Gallatin | Westmoreland
  • Texas
    • Hopkins County | Cumby

Family Photo. "Thelma Irene Brown," ca. 1970. 


"A Historic Place to Meet, Play, Love," 2024. Indiana Landmarks Campus. Indiana Landmarks.  Accessed 17 March 2024. 

Ancestry ®. "Public Member Trees Database.” © 1997-2023 Ancestry®.   Ancestry.  User profile for William Harris Lawson, Jr., user Livingweb. 17 March 2024.

"Carmel United Methodist Church." Carmel United Methodist Church.  Accessed 18 March 2024. 

Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed March 17, 2024), memorial page for Thelma Irene Brown Lawson Lindley (25 Mar 1913–16 Apr 1991), Find a Grave Memorial ID 52959844, citing Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Fishers, Hamilton County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Roger Brown (contributor 48258483).

"Great Families, Great Place, Great Life," 2024. The Riviera Club.  Accessed 17 March 2024. 

"Hamilton County IN Extension Homemakers." Facebook.   Accessed 18 March 2024.

"IEHA." Indiana Extension Homemakers Association.  Accessed 18 March 2024.

Order of the Eastern Star. "General Grand Chapter." Order of the Eastern Star. 12 June 2023.

"Our History," 2023. Westminster Village North.  Accessed 17 March 2024.

"Sunnyside TB Sanitarium Indianapolis." Sunnyside Sanatorium was a tuberculosis hospital located in Oaklandon, Indiana, east of Indianapolis that opened in 1917. Generative AI Search Result, Google,  Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

The Noblesville Ledger. Search "Irene Lawson, 1933-1991, Indiana, Noblesville." Newspapers by Ancestry.  Accessed 18 March 2024.

Wikipedia Contributors. "Home Demonstration Clubs," 3 July 2022. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  Accessed 18 March 2024.

W. H. Bass Photo Company. "Sunnyside Sanitarium," 1925. Pamela Tranfield Memorial Collection. Indiana Historical Society.  Accessed 17 March 2024. Photograph.


The original date of this post is 25 March 2024, the 112th birthday of Thelma Irene Brown.

Updated 28 March 2024.

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