Remembering Joyce Brown


Guest Column by Art Werner

Former Chapel Hill Town Council member Joyce Brown passed away in her Chapel Hill home on Nov. 18, 2019 at the age of 87.

She was first elected in 1989 and served three 4-year terms on the council. She served under three mayors — Jon Howes, Ken Broun and Rosemary Waldorf. I served with Joyce during her first term. Her first campaign was truly grass roots. While the other candidates (including me running for re-election) had discovered that preprinted yard signs could be ordered in bulk, Joyce, as an active member of the Orange County Greens, enlisted her followers to draw and paint artistically creative yard signs which were unique.

Joyce brought to the council a fierce passion for environmental protection, dedication to energy conservation, strong feelings about neighborhood protection and innovative ideas for dealing with solid waste. Her energy conservation committee in the 1990s identified many useful energy and cost savings for the town.

In her 12 years on the Town Council, Joyce mastered procedure and also did her homework. She developed insight into how to get many of her goals incorporated into council actions, even if she didn’t win the vote on the major action. She accomplished this through diligence, native intelligence, preparation and organization.

Joyce was born on Oct. 30, 1932 in Hillsborough. She remained close to her roots and childhood friends during her life. Joyce graduated from Duke Women’s College in 1954 with a B.A. in history.

After graduation she embarked on a long tour of Europe. After returning to the U.S., Joyce looked for a job that would have a positive impact, so she became a teacher on a Navajo Reservation in New Mexico. She moved on from there to San Francisco and eventually returned to her roots in Orange County.

Joyce was always a committed environmentalist and citizen activist, serving for many years on the board of the North Carolina Conservation Council. She was very active in CASH- Citizens Against Shearon Harris. It was this interest in environmental protection that propelled her to run for a seat on the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1989.

In addition, Joyce appreciated the work of local artists and painted some herself. Joyce was a very private person and according to her wishes her burial will be private. At Joyce’s request, and to honor her lifelong generosity to the community, donations can be made to the Eno River Association, 4404 Guess Road, Durham, NC 27712 or to

Art Werner is a former member of the Chapel Hill Town Council.

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1 Comment on "Remembering Joyce Brown"

  1. Thank you for this loving tribute to a wonderful leader. She was in her first term as we moved to Chapel Hill. Only wish more of the council people had followed her lead.

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