By Sonya Campbell
Killeen Daily Herald
SALADO - MaryBelle Brown of Salado has led a life of devotion - to her family, her career and her community.
Her passion to serve came early.
Brown was a high school student during World War II. She recalled seeing soldiers board passenger trains and head to parts unknown, while young women who had gathered at the station waved goodbye. That romantic scene might have inspired her desire to join the war effort.
"I wanted to go into the nursing corps," she said.
But because she wasn't 21, joining the Army Nursing Corps required her parents' approval and they refused.
By the time she was old enough to enlist, the war had ended.
Instead of joining the military, she focused her attention on getting an education. She graduated from Temple Junior College, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and the Scott & White Memorial Hospital School of Nursing.
In 1949, she married Thomas Vernon Brown Jr.
"He was a cute boy," she said, when describing their budding romance.
During their 63 years together, the couple did not shy away from hard work.
MaryBelle Brown rose through the ranks in her nursing career before deciding to become a social worker and helping children find loving homes. She also worked other jobs.
Her husband served in a number of positions, including as a Belton police officer and sheriff's deputy.
Together, they raised two sons - Thomas Vernon Brown III and Tim Brown, who serves as Bell County Precinct 2 Commissioner.
His older brother, Tom, is employed with PGA Tours.
When MaryBelle wasn't working for a paycheck, she was working as a community volunteer and historian.
She has held membership in numerous organizations, the Bell County Historical Commission, Salado Historical Society, Salado Chamber of Commerce, Salado Area Republican Women, Daughters of the American Revolution, Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Order of Confederate Rose and First Families of Texas among them.
As a member of the historical commission, she was instrumental in researching and obtaining 19 state historical markers.
She also organized the annual Memorial Day Service in 1991 honoring veterans buried at the Old Salado Graveyard and Cemetery and was key in acquiring official "Historic Texas Cemetery" status for the site in 2000.
Additionally, Brown authored several historical pieces, including the 100-year history of the Salado Church of Christ and the history of Salado.
Her work has yielded many awards and honors.
Most recently, the Commissioners Court recognized Brown's efforts - and retirement from the historical commission - with a proclamation denoting Jan. 18, 2011, as MaryBelle Brown Day in Bell County. Brown served on the commission for more than 20 years.
Her passion for history comes naturally.
"Since my ancestors were here in 1844 and some of them played major roles in the founding, growth and development of Bell County, I have appreciated the opportunity to assist in researching and recording the history of one of the greatest counties in the state of Texas," Brown said in a letter to County Judge Jon Burrows, dated Dec. 28, 2010.
She went on to say, "My great-great grandfather, James Anderson, signed the petition seeking the organizing of Bell County in 1849. Then after the county was formed, he became the first justice of the peace and served until his death after the Civil War."
"He also helped in getting the Village of Salado and Salado College organized in 1859 and '60. My great-grandfather, Thomas J. Eubanks, built the old Salado Hotel, now known as The Stagecoach Inn."
Contact Sonya Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7585.