Famed civil rights activist Joseph Lowery will be the featured speaker at Wednesday’s funeral for former state Sen. Robert Brown.
Brown, 61, was found dead at his Macon home Thursday of a gunshot wound to the head. His death was ruled a suicide.
David Oedel, a friend of Brown’s and a Mercer law school professor, said he expects an overflow crowd for Brown’s funeral service, which begins at 1 p.m. at Greater Zion Baptist Church, 2656 Napier Ave.
“There’s only 600 people that are going to get in there, and we recognize that probably there are more people who would want to go,” Oedel said Tuesday. “But that was his church. We thought it would be appropriate to have it there.”
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Lowery, a 90-year-old retired pastor, founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and led the march from Selma, Ala., to Montgomery.
Oedel said Tuesday he doesn’t know what Lowery will say about Brown at the funeral.
David Lucas, a former state representative, said Lowery and Brown worked closely together on legislative projects as well as Andrew Young’s race for the governor’s seat in 1990.
Lucas said Brown endured a bout with cancer several years ago and recently had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, getting a difficult prognosis two weeks ago.
“I don’t know what kind of pain he went through” in the first cancer fight, Lucas said Tuesday. “I would assume he didn’t want to go through that again. ... He was still walking and all, but the prognosis was not good.”
Lucas said Brown told him last week he’d had the flu, part of Brown’s long-standing tradition of keeping things close to the vest.
Brown left the General Assembly as the Senate minority leader to run for mayor of Macon this past summer.
Jim Marshall, a friend of Brown’s who is a former Macon mayor and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, told The Telegraph last week that Brown had some financial struggles and had lost the stimulation of a political life.
Speakers at the funeral are expected to include Lucas, Marshall, former state Rep. DuBose Porter, Bibb County Magistrate Court Judge Billy Randall, friend and professor Jackie Walker, and a contingent of Georgia state senators including Steve Henson, Vincent Fort and Doug Stoner. Brown’s pastor, the Rev. Walter L. Glover Jr., also is scheduled to speak.
A native of Greenville, a small town near Columbus, Brown stayed in Macon after graduating from Mercer University in 1971, according to his obituary that appeared in The Telegraph. Before winning a state Senate seat, he also served as a Bibb County school board member. In the obituary, Oedel wrote that Brown “will be missed deeply as a quiet-but-tenacious, witty and generous friend and leader who lifted up the smallest among us to an honored place at the table.”
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.