Chickasaw Hall of Famer, WWII veteran Jeraldine Brown dies

Jeraldine “Jerry” Brown, a 2018 Chickasaw Hall of Fame inductee, veteran of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps during World War II, and member of the Chickasaw Warrior Society died Nov. 25 due to COVID-19 complications.

She was 99.

Mrs. Brown was born in Oklahoma City, Oct. 28, 1921 to Annie Rennie Colbert-Meek and Alymer Hightown Meek. While growing up, she stayed connected with her Chickasaw family during regular Sunday dinners in Purcell.

“My mother would say, ‘Remember that you are Chickasaw.’ When I would ask her about my nationality, she would say, ‘Chickasaw and some other things,’ which happened to be Irish and Dutch,” she said during a 2014 interview.

Education was important in her home, emphasized by her Chickasaw mother, who had attended Bloomfield Academy as a young girl. Mrs. Brown attended Classen High School in Oklahoma City, graduating in 1939.

When she was 17, Mrs. Brown enrolled at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma State University) to study education. To pay her way through school, she took on several jobs, including in the dining hall, as a proctor at Murray Hall and tutoring a student in Latin.

Mrs. Brown was a member of the Aggie Pep Squad and an “Aggiette” cheerleader her senior year, “because the uniform fit,” she said.

She graduated in 1943 with a bachelor’s degree in education, and was named Outstanding Oklahoma State University Chickasaw Alumni in 2014.

Two months after earning a college degree, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps. Mrs. Brown was ultimately assigned to the Pentagon where her duties involved developing and printing photos from the bombers.

She was on duty the day the U.S. B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan during World War II.

“You could see the (bomb) drop and every frame would be closer, and the tail camera would capture the devastation,” she recounted in 2014. “The devastation to the land was so much more intense. We were used to seeing buildings knocked down, but what we saw there was just blocks and blocks of devastation. It was so much more intense.”

She was discharged from the Army the day after Thanksgiving 1945. She returned to Oklahoma, where she married Syl Brown. The couple had two children and moved to Edmond, Okla., where Mrs. Brown worked as a teacher until her retirement in 1973. She continued to substitute teach until she was 90 years old.

In recent years, Mrs. Brown volunteered at OU Medical Center in Edmond.

She was named “Volunteer of the Year” in 2012.

Mrs. Brown leaves a lifelong legacy of service. Service to her country, service to her family and service to enhancing the education of Oklahoma’s youth.