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Mr. William "Butch" J. Brawner

Obituary for Mr. William "Butch" J. Brawner

March 12, 1947 - July 22, 2018
Washington, District Of Columbia | Age 71

In Loving Memory


William Joseph Brawner departed this life on July 22, 2018, in Arlington, VA. He was born on March 12, 1947, in Washington D.C., at the Freedmen's Hospital, to Earlean (Minor) Brawner from Caroline County, Virginia and William Earl Brawner from Charles County, Maryland.
While he enjoyed a close and loving relationship with his parents, William was reared by his grandmother Cornelia Minor ("Nelia"), in Caroline County, VA. "Bill" or "Butch," as he was affectionately known to his family and friends, received his formative education in Caroline County's school system and graduated from Union High School in Bowling Green, Virginia, during the time of racial segregation in Virginia's schools. Union High School was the only secondary school for African American children in the county and was sustained by the African American church community who believed that "knowledge is power" and that the school is the social hub of the community. His Virginia community, rooted in spiritual principles, formed and strengthened his character and prepared him to manage his life and many other activities as man living, on his own terms, in Washington D.C.
Many early-life experiences gave him the resolve to create and fully manage his own world. Among those was an early experience that remained with him for his lifetime. As recent as June 2018, William recalled the details of his first solo bus trip from his small Virginia town to Richmond. In the early 1960's, he ventured out alone to shop for school shoes in Richmond stores and was proud and excited about his independent excursion. However, on his return trip he was reprimanded by two police officers, who made him move from the front to the back of the Richmond bus station to wait for his bus ride back to the Carmel Church bus stop, with his new shoes in hand. Although stunned, but not afraid, William complied. He also, at that moment, became determined to live in an environment where he could manage and control his own existence.
He did just that. In Washington D.C., from 1966 until 1994, William was a part of the vibrant Howard University community where he at first was a student and subsequently was employed by the University. William majored in Music Education and worked at the School of Music which later became the College of Fine Arts. There he served as the Assistant to the Marching Band Director, Business Manager of the University choirs and bands, and was the Manager of Ira Aldridge Theater. He had a special bond with and enjoyed the mentorship of Dr. Vada Easter Butcher, Dean of the School of Fine Arts. At Howard University his role as Business Manager for the Howard University Gospel Choir was his professional high point. Those 21 years (1970 – 1991) brought him immense joy. According to William, working with student choir members was his way of acting upon the inspirational lyrics sung by Mahalia Jackson:

"If I can help somebody, as I travel along, If I can help somebody, with a word or song, If I can help somebody, from doing wrong, No, my living shall not be in vain."
Living with the spiritual intent of service, also earned for William the affectionate and honorary role of "parent" to students and choir members such as Lamont Van Hook, Keith Alexander, Allan Clyde, Linda Lanier, M. Haywood Dunaway, and Diereoce Junirs, and certainly to many more that he generously assisted along the way. His "children", as he referred to them, arrived in Washington with a variety of basic needs (food, shelter, self-discovery, and focus). He simply counseled them to rely upon and trust in the Lord and reminded them to "treat everyone as you would want to be treated". He did his best to "make them behave" and "most of the time they did".
Following the satisfying and successful years at Howard University, William transferred his management skills to a career in residential property management, where he especially enjoyed assisting persons to gain access to decent and affordable housing in Washington, D.C.
Above all else, Butch was guided by the Lord. He looked to the Lord to ordain his passage through this life and he never lost sight of the wisdom of our Ancestors. His choice of African clothing, especially during times of worship, was an expression of respect for his cultural roots. His spiritual convictions caused him to have no fear of physical death; much to the contrary – his beliefs opened his heart to the world yet to be unveiled.
Since 1983, William was an active member of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, in Washington D.C. and participated in the Men of Sword Fellowship and the Housing, and Scholarship Ministries. He was also a family unit leader.
William Joseph Brawner is survived by his closest living relatives: cousin and God-daughter Maxine Blue ("Patty"), Cynthia Winston ("Plick"), and his sister Veronica Jackson. In addition to his "children", his life was greatly enriched by Father Darryl F. James, Liz Young, Christine Leake, Tony Langley, and Craig Davenport. They were a big support for him during the period of his transition.
He is preceded in death by his parents, and his brother Earl C. Minor.
Straight from his heart, "Butch's" final message to his loved ones stems from his endearing sense of humor. They are, "Bye-Bye. TTFN. That's it. Thank you and I love you".

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1505 Kenilworth Avenue
N.E Washington, DC 20019
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