Remembering June Brown

June L. Brown (right), age 89, of Chambersburg, Pa., passed away on Thursday, June 4, 2020. She served 35 years as a United Brethren missionary in Sierra Leone. Private graveside services will be held at Norland Cemetery in Chambersburg. No other arrangements have been announced at this time.

You can read June Brown’s obituary on the Geisel Funeral home website. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her name to UB Global, 302 Lake St., Huntington, IN 46750. Designed “Sierra Leone Hospital” on the memo lane. Or, contributions can be made to King Street Church Joy Class, 56 North Second St., Chambersburg, PA 17201.

On June 9, UB Central posted a tribute from Dr. Billy Simbo. Here are tributes from people who knew June Brown well.

Respected by Everyone (by C. Ray Miller)

C. Ray Miller chaired the Board of Missions 1965-1993, and was bishop 1973-1993. He and his wife, Lanie, live in Fort Wayne, Ind.

When I think of June Brown, one word comes to mind: respect. I’ve seen this in many ways.

Lanie and I have crossed paths with June Brown many times, and in many ways, over the years. We knew June when she was a student at Huntington College. We saw the respect shown by her professors and fellow students. That respect was shown many years later, in 1993, when she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Huntington College.

When I was an assistant pastor at King Street Church in Chambersburg, June’s home church, I learned to know her family and I hunted deer with June and her family. They had such great respect for her. King Street Church showed their respect by honoring June when she came home on furlough and by supporting her.

The Board of Missions had the utmost respect for June’s expertise and her many years of faithful service. Lanie and I, on a visit to Sierra Leone, stayed with June in Bumpe. We were amazed at how many people knew her. We could clearly see the respect they had for her.

Likewise, June was deeply respected by her fellow United Brethren missionaries, whether they served in Sierra Leone or elsewhere. When she visited other missionaries–at board meetings, annual conferences, and in other settings–you could see their respect for her.

Lanie and I consider it a great privilege to have known June Brown.

A Great Teacher (by Dr. Ron Baker)

Dr. Baker grew up largely in Sierra Leone and attended Centennial Secondary School in Mattru.

One thing that will always remain in my mind is that Miss June Brown trained a team of Bumpeh High School students who proved to be intellectually superior to students of Centennial in the Christian Endeavour quiz competition. This was the 1968/69 academic year when Centennial was at its zenith in academic terms.

We had students like Habib Mohammed, Sahr John, Mohammed Conteh, Abu Mansaray, George Yakawa, Mahmoud Kamara, Francis Gandhi, Lucinda Quinn, and many others. Academically, Centennial was riding high. So that year we made the trip to Bumpeh High School, where the annual Christian Endeavour rally was being held.

Centennial fielded two teams for the rally. We had the junior team of which I was a member, and the senior team comprised mostly of 4th and 5th formers of Centennial. It was strictly a Bible quiz, and all the questions were taken from 1 Corinthians.

On the first day of quiz competition, the Bumpeh High School team knocked out the junior team in the morning, and in the afternoon they also knocked out our senior team.

This sparked a high level of animosity between the two schools. Bitter arguments were flaring up everywhere. But the bottom line was that we the students from Centennial were bad losers. We had come to the quiz competition with an air of superiority thinking that the quiz competition was going to be an easy walk-over for our teams.

But we had not reckoned with Miss June Brown’s coaching techniques. She burst our bubble and brought us back down to earth with a double knockout punch.

On the final day of the quiz, the Bumpeh High School team had to contend with the team from the Freetown UBC Church in Campbell Street. For obvious reasons, we were supporting the team from Freetown. But we were bitterly disappointed as the Bumpeh High School team coached by June Brown won the final quiz competition.

I do recall that the Bumpeh High School students, including Rev. Joe Abu (who was attending Bumpeh High School at the time), went on a victory parade all over Bumpeh town.

However the quiz competition was scrapped in the succeeding years because it engendered a lot of animosity between the two schools.

The victory of the Bumpeh High School team was testament to the fact that Miss June Brown was such a great teacher, that even one of the best schools at the time could not compete against her team.

As they say, “In living you make your life sublime, so that in death you leave your footprints in the sands of time.”

Consequently, Miss June Brown has left an indelible print not only in the lives of the students she taught, but also that of the UBC Mission in general. May her blessed soul rest in perfect peace.

Larger than Life (by Rev. Tom Datema)

Tom Datema grew up partly in Sierra Leone as a missionary kid, and later went back as a UB missionary. He is now pastor of the UB church in Zanesville, Ind.

June was one of a kind. I remember first meeting her as a five-year-old on the Bumpe High School campus where she lived. She was larger than life as the lady who played tennis every evening before heading down to the river for a bath, hunting monkeys in the surrounding villages, and drinking Coca-Cola for breakfast.

She patrolled the campus from her veranda and had a constant flow of students walking past to say good morning. Those conversations shaped the lives of hundreds of students. She was also instrumental in keeping missionaries focused on their work, and was a great example of how to work with patience and creativity.

A Saint and a Wonderful Friend (by Miriam Prabhakar)

Miriam and June are among the longest-tenured United Brethren missionaries.

June was a saint and also a wonderful friend. She always welcomed anyone with open arms, a hug, and a great big smile. I admired her simplicity so very very much. She had stories which could keep you engaged well into the morning.

She was a very courageous women, taking a stand for the Lord in difficult situations and being there for people to lean on. There were not many things she was afraid of, which really helped her as she served on the mission field.

My regret is that I did not have an opportunity to work alongside her. What a blessing and privilege for me to know her and learn what trusting and having faith in the Lord is, in any situation. She touched, served, and loved so many in the country which God called her to. Au revoir June, till we meet again in His presence.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will reward to me on that day” (2 Timothy 4:7).

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