Bettye F. Brown, longtime teacher, volunteer, entrepreneur

Posted: February 19, 2014

BETTYE F. BROWN tried to retire as a 36-year teacher in the Chester-Upland School District, but she couldn't sit still.

She soon began working as a reading-enrichment volunteer with the AARP Experience Corps in Philadelphia, doing what she always did, improving the lives of children. She became a coordinator with the program.

In 2011, Bettye began working as the school-advisory-council manager at Universal Cos., a community educational-and-development company founded by music mogul Kenny Gamble.

"In that capacity, she mentored young teachers, worked as the coordinator with parents, and oversaw a staff of volunteers," her family said.

Bettye F. Brown, who devoted her life to the education and enrichment of young people as a teacher and community volunteer, and an entrepreneur who founded a travel agency, died Jan. 23 at age 71.

"Bettye was an accomplished educator, devoted wife, loving mother and trusted friend," her family wrote in a tribute. "She was loved by many and highly respected for her tireless efforts to enrich the lives of children."

She was born in Selma, Ala., one of the nine children of Adelaide Lowery and Fred Peterson. She attended Shiloh High School and Alabama A&M University.

After moving to Philadelphia with her sisters Danna and Katherine she attended Cheyney College, now Cheyney University, receiving a bachelor's degree in education. She later earned her master's in education from Temple University.

She married James Brown in 1967.

Bettye began her teaching career in Atlantic City, then moved to the Chester-Upland District, where she taught for 36 years at the Christopher Columbus School.

She was a leader in the teachers union and helped end a crippling strike by spearheading class-action litigation.

Bettye was a member of the Living Word Community in Philadelphia for 42 years.

She was active with the parents' group at Episcopal Academy, "and happily volunteered in and around the school," her family said. "She was regarded as a willing and energetic participant in several school projects."

After retiring from Chester-Upland, she began her volunteer work, and she and her husband founded Direct Travel.

They traveled throughout the world to evaluate resorts and hotels for clients, including many corporate contracts and church missionary trips.

"The young minds that she touched and molded during her many years as an educator are a lasting legacy of her contributions," her family wrote.

Besides her husband and two sisters, Danna Peterson and Katherine Diggs, she is survived by a son, Jason; another sister, Mary Ruth Bryant, and five brothers, Randolph, Samuel, Fred Jr., Thomas and Roosevelt Peterson. She also is survived by Brittany Ward, who was taken into the family in 2008 and raised as a daughter.

Services: Were Wednesday. Burial was in West Laurel Hill Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd.

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