A SELL-OUT CROWD OF about 2,000 people filled the ballroom at Martin's West for the 20th Annual Fullwood Foundation Inc. Benefit & Recognition Breakfast. But this year, there was a notable exception. This was the first event after the death of co-founder Harlow Fullwood Jr. last January. Sure, the general atmosphere was one of warmth and community. But many there also felt a certain void.
"Particularly in my case, it's an empty feeling because I worked closely with him. I co-authored his autobiography," said Fullwood Foundation volunteer Herbert C. Sledge Jr., as he ushered the morning's honorees into a separate room for the breakfast's opening procession.
"You know it's funny, because this year I didn't have Harlow on the phone. 'Laura, come on now. Get that ad in.' He always called everyone. So, I miss that," said honoree Laura Phillips Byrd, president of the Baltimore Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Meanwhile, Fullwood's widow, Elnora Fullwood, seemed to be everywhere at once, making sure the morning progressed as it was supposed to, yet still managing to greet everyone with a smile and a hug.
"It has been an awesome task. ... One thing I've realized was how hard Harlow worked. ... But, we tried to follow through with [the breakfast] because we wanted to do [it] in memory of him," she said.
"[My wife] Candy and I knew Harlow. And, quite frankly, that's the reason we're here," said Johns Hopkins famed pediatric neurosurgeon and honoree Dr. Benjamin Carson.
"Harlow is here in spirit," agreed Dr. Levi Watkins, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine associate dean.
"There's no such thing as being without Harlow."
A DRINK WITH EDDIE BROWN
EDDIE BROWN, 67, IS THE FOUNDER and president of Brown Capital Management, an investment management firm he started in 1983. He and wife, Sylvia, are among the area's best-known philanthropists, having given away about $18 million, so far, to various charities. They live in Glen Arm and have two adult daughters and three grandchildren.
Have you found that your personal priorities have changed since the time you started Brown Capital?
They haven't. [My family's] value system has been consistent throughout the whole journey. Family comes first. We do have the faith-based underpinning. And then [comes] business. But, I've kept, over the years, a balance between enjoying life and earning a living.
That flies in the face of what a lot of other successful people say. Is it difficult to maintain that balance and not get immersed in work?
That's why a lot of them are divorced. Because it may have been a one-sided priority. ... It's never been tough [for me] because I've never been confused about it. The reason is that my wife and I have a very good relationship and communication and an understanding of each other's goals.
You two have been married for 45 years. What's the secret of your success?
I would say, loving and respecting each other. And being supportive of each other.
How do you have fun?
We love traveling and our goal is to visit the world. We have covered quite a bit so far, but we still have a ways to go. We are kind of outdoors types. We love hiking. We love biking. We love playing golf. You know, maybe that's one of the secrets; we're very compatible in our interests.
Any guilty pleasures?
A nice glass of wine periodically.
What about pet peeves?
I can't stand incompetence. I know my wife's pet peeve about me is that I'm very rarely on time.
How would you describe your personality?
I think, very calm. I guess people have said "unflappable." I consider myself very open to new ideas and different ways of doing things. I think I'm focused generally with a well-thought-out plan on whatever it is I'm seeking to do.
What would surprise people to learn about you?
That I'm not the least bit hung up on money. And I see it strictly as a means of doing good, helping others.
ONLINE Read more of the conversation with Eddie Brown at baltimoresun.com / drink
ONLINE Sloane Brown takes you to the party with a calendar of upcoming events and video reports at baltimoresun.com / scene