by Max Brantley
In the paid obituaries today was a notice of the death of Mrs. Imogene Brooks Brown, 92, of Little Rock, the first black nurse hired at Arkansas Children's Hospital.
She was, as the obit said, the "proud mother" of four children, one of them Minnijean Brown Trickey, a member of the Little Rock Nine who desegregated Central High School in 1957. The children were brave. So were their parents.
In an article written for the Arkansas Times in 1997 by another member of the Nine, Melba Patillo Beals, Trickey paid tribute to her parents, the late Robert and Imogene Brown.
They always conveyed to her that her value or well-being didn't depend on staying in Central. So when she was forced to leave in January 1958 after the now famous "chili incident", she went on to a productive and successful life without a defeatist attitude. Rather, she knew she had done her best.
Minnijean says the most important gifts from her parents were her father's sense of humor and her mother's way of reassuring her that all was well. "She kept the home fires burning in a way that let me know we could survive no matter what," Minnijean says.