Hazel Irene Bailey Brown, a retired nurse who was active in nursing professional organizations, died of old-age complications Monday at her West Baltimore home. She was 98.
Born Hazel Irene Bailey in Baltimore and raised on Division Street, she was the daughter of a mother who was a seamstress and a father who owned a tailoring business in South Baltimore. Family members said she had childhood memories of accompanying her grandfather to Ebenezer African Methodist Church on Montgomery Street, where he lit the coal fire in a stove early Sunday mornings.
She was a 1927 Frederick Douglass High School graduate and received a nursing degree at the old Provident Hospital School of Nursing in 1932. She received a master's degree in nursing from New York University at a time when the state of Maryland routinely sent African-American students out of state for graduate degrees rather than desegregate local schools.
Mrs. Brown worked at the Johns Hopkins Hospital's Wilmer Eye Clinic and at the Baltimore City Health Department. She was later the school nurse at Booker T. Washington Junior High School and at Douglass High School, where she retired more than 30 years ago.
She also taught nursing courses to evening school students at Douglass. She was also active in the Helen Fuld School of Nursing's alumni association.
Mrs. Brown maintained an association with Ebenezer AME in South Baltimore, where her mother's family resided. She sang in its senior choir for 70 years.
"Her beautiful contralto voice reverberated throughout the church," said a cousin, Jewell Stubbs of Baltimore. "Her father had brought a violin back from France and she played hymn tunes on it at Sunday school for many years."
Mrs. Brown was also the organizer and director of Ebenezer's Council of Religious Education.
"She was a giving and caring person who spoke with authority," said Mrs. Stubbs. "She was also a very elegantly dressed woman who wore gloves and hats at most occasions. In the winter, she had a full-length fur coat."
Mrs. Stubbs also recalled that her cousin kept a meticulous home and furnished it with pieces from Shofer's and Littlepage's furniture stores. She also entertained at card parties and church fundraisers.
"Her home looked like something from a design magazine," her cousin said.
In 1946 she was the co-founder of a nursing organization, the Chi Eta Phi sorority's Baltimore Gamma chapter, and remained active in the organization.
"She was always concerned about good health and helping young men and women go into the field of nursing," said another cousin, Irene Little of Baltimore.
In retirement, Mrs. Brown traveled extensively.
In 1996 she married Ernest "Cutie" Brown, a former Booker T. Washington School physical education teacher. He died two years ago.
Services will be held at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Ebenezer AME Church, 20 W. Montgomery St.
Mrs. Brown left no immediate survivors.