Christine Browne was an active member of the Hyde Park Community, and an educator at Beulah Shoesmith School. Her daughter, Kristine Colson (née Browne), known now as Iqua Colson, attended Kozminski and Kenwood High School; her son, William “Buz” Browne, attended Shoesmith School, followed by Harvard St. George, and then Kenwood High School. Christine was active with each school and with Hyde Park’s educational community. She later joined a neighborhood group making calls and carrying petitions for a new high school. They were successful, and the new Kenwood High School opened in 1967.
Christine was born to Alexander and Lucinda Cole Webb on December 18, 1919 as the first of four daughters. Her parents sold their two-flat at 52nd and Wabash around 1921 and built their first house in Morgan Park, where she was raised. The family attended St. Edmund’s Church. Christine attended Esmond and Shoop Elementary Schools. Her family enjoyed summer vacations in Idlewild, Michigan as well as short trips to visit family in Cairo, IL and St. Louis, Mo. She was an honors graduate of Morgan Park High, receiving a partial scholarship to The University of Chicago. Since she wanted to teach she attended Chicago Teachers College, now Chicago State University, where she earned her B.E. She continued her Education at DePaul University, receiving a M.A. in Administration, followed by 60 hours in counseling, guidance, human relations and careers. Her career spanned forty years with the Chicago Public Schools: as a classroom teacher at Carver Elementary; as a Master Teacher at John Fiske Elementary; and after she moved her family to Hyde Park in 1963, she was hired as a Teacher and Coordinator of Special Projects in Music at Beulah Shoesmith School. In time, she became an Administrator at Shoesmith, after which she decided to move into Counseling and Guidance: first, as Department Chair at Flower Vocational High School; then, she was appointed Department Chair and College Counselor of Orr High School, where she concluded her career with CPS. She also taught adults in GED classes and counseled state workers. She always felt her greatest career achievement was working with high school seniors as they prepared to enter college, and following them through their first year to assure their success.
Christine was active in professional organizations, helping organize the Chicago Public School Counselor Council – becoming the second president. She was a regular speaker and seminar leader focused on Guidance Services for students. She transferred her church membership to St. Paul Episcopal Church and also served on the Board of Directors of the Hyde Park YMCA, focusing on Camp Martin Johnson, where her children spent their summers. She and other Board members made sure camp scholarships were provided to additional young people in the Hyde Park area. Though a talented pianist she never pursued music; however, in retirement she remained very active, focusing on several organizations - many of which were involved with the Arts. She maintained subscriptions to the Goodman and Court Theaters and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra. She was a docent for the Lyric Opera Lecture Corp and the Museum of Contemporary Art - she was elected president of the docents at MOCA. She was a board member of the City Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a board member of the South Side Friends of The Sinfonietta – and some of the work done on these boards, along with like-minded friends, moved those organizations forward in helping them to become more diverse and inclusive of talented but overlooked African American artists as well as other artists of color. In addition, she served on the Volunteer Advisory Board of The Museum of Science and Industry; she was a member of the Education Committee of the League of Women Voters; she served on Volunteer Training Committees at the Harold Washington Library; and she was a life member of Jack and Jill Associates, Inc. She enjoyed travel with friends and playing bridge in countless settings including The Hyde Neighborhood Club; she was a member of Les Plus Belles bridge club, and founding member of The Orchidettes.
Christine was also a life member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She was initiated Beta Chapter November 1940, then moved into Theta Omega, serving as Anti – Basileus under Henrietta Pelkey; she worked with scholarships for students and became chairperson of TOCS. In later years, she was a Chartering Chapter Member of Chi Omega Omega – 2005 – and became a Diamond Soror, representing 75 years, in 2015. She remained involved with the Chi Omega Omega Chapter who honored her by naming a scholarship after her which they will continue to provide on an annual basis. During the inaugural year of 2022, they awarded three students with a Christine Browne Scholarship.
Christine’s busy life did not slow down as she aged. She returned to St. Edmund's Episcopal Church, and in 2013 she left Hyde Park - where she had lived since 1962 - and moved to a wonderful independent living community where she lived in her beautiful one bedroom apartment and continued enjoying her life with such activities as book club meetings, concerts, lectures, meditation sessions, art classes, movies, and chair yoga; along with plenty of bridge and canasta. Throughout life, as she enjoyed wonderful days and faced challenges, she did exactly as she told her family to do: “…Just keep moving!”
Christine had a long, beautiful and fulfilling life. She passed away January 12, 2023. Survivors include her daughter Iqua Kristine Colson (husband Stephen) and grandsons Issa and Mikel of Montclair, NJ; her son William H. Browne IV (wife Sherry) and grandson William; her granddaughters Nakia and Starlit; great granddaughter Taylor and great grandson Lawrence; niece Nancy, nephews Warren, Roger and Randall and their spouses and families which include many grandnieces and grandnephews; and several friends and acquaintances…all of whom brought her much joy.
A memorial service will be held at St. Edmund's Episcopal Church, 6105 S. Michigan Avenue, at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 20.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the scholarship fund of Christine’s Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Incorporated, Chi Omega Omega. Funds may be made payable to Imani Pearls Community Development Foundation, 2035 S. State Street #16545, Chicago, IL. 60616. Please indicate Christine Browne Scholarship in the memo section.
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