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Wanda Nadine (Medcalf) Brown, 88, Nashville

Wanda Nadine (Medcalf) Brown, 88, Nashville, died peacefully in her sleep Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014.

Wanda was born to Jessie (Brooner) and Admer Medcalf, the fifth of six children, on Jan. 26, 1925, in Dale. This was a little town in which her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents had been born, and so she had a rich childhood, surrounded by sisters and a brother, cousins, aunts and uncles. Her parents supported and encouraged her artistic and creative spirit. She graduated from Dale High School in 1943, and from Indiana University in 1947 with a bachelor's degree in English/journalism and fine arts. She later completed a master’s degree in education from IU.

Wanda met a Brown County native, Orval Brown, while traveling though the county to see fall colors in 1956. She had found her soulmate, and she and Orval moved with her daughters, Pat and Kitty, and built a home near Bean Blossom; she and Orval later had two sons, Ishmael and Sam.

Wanda taught in the Indiana school system for nearly 30 years, primarily in Brown County. She taught English and journalism at Helmsburg High School in the late 1950s, and later, she taught art for many years in all of Brown County’s elementary schools. In those years, she had no classroom, and no closet for art supplies. Her “supply closet” was the trunk of her car, and she provided a break for regular teachers by holding art class in their rooms, or by taking the children out-of-doors to collect material for art projects (twigs, flowers and feathers from the woods, stones and clay out of the creeks). She knew a thousand fun things to do with a single sheet of paper. She made art a joy for her students.

After Wanda’s much-loved husband, Orval, died in 1988 after a lengthy and debilitating illness, she moved to a home in Nashville, where she lived until a few months ago. She loved her home, and it was during these years that she became most prolific in her artwork, working in many media: acrylics, oil, watercolor, pencil drawings, gourds, painted saws, clay figures, mosaics, as well as writing; poems, essays, books, and an occasional letter to the editor (for labor unions, against war).

Wanda was also a “philosopher,” and a searcher for meaning, ethics and truth. She loved to read about ideas and have conversations with her friends. She had the courage to question popular ideas and beliefs; she read, pondered, discussed and came up with her own answers. A particular joy for her during her later years was in helping to write and edit, for 15 years, the quarterly Brown County “Reflection Rag,” with co-editors and close friends, Pam Raider and Davie Ericson. For many years she hosted in her home a circle of students/readers of the Course of Miracles. She was also a sharp Scrabble, crossword puzzle and card-player. (She never let the grandchildren win — they had to learn to win by mastering the game.)

Wanda loved Brown County, the mists in the valleys, the dogwood and redbud of spring, the beauty of the flowing creek water in summertime, and the brilliant colors of fall leaves. She loved nothing better than to drive the back roads of the county and enjoy the views and the new scenery over each hill and around each curve of the road.

Wanda was preceded in death by all of her siblings, Jeanette, Sadie, Charlotte and Donald; and her husband — all died too young. These were sorrows of her life.

She is survived by four children and two daughters-in-law, Pat Brown, Kitty Brown, Ishmael and Darla Brown, Sam and Michelle Lynn Brown; 10 grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; many nieces, nephews and friends. She will be sorely missed by all of those who loved and admired her.

Enormous thanks from the family go to Darla, Wanda’s daughter-in-law, who, with such love and care and dedication, kept her healthy and supported for many, many years — so she could remain able-bodied and independent enough to stay in her home for longer than anyone thought possible. Particular thanks also goes to Pam Raider, who gave enormously of her time and energy for years and years, as a close friend, intellectual sparring partner, and companion/chauffeur to weekly breakfast and lunch gatherings with  friends. Wanda’s life was lengthened and enriched due to the love and devotion shown by both Pam and Darla.

In lieu of flowers to honor and remember Wanda, send a donation to Friends of the Brown County Library, or Mother’s Cupboard food pantry in Bean Blossom. Or set aside  time in the next few days or weeks to spend some joyful and soul-satisfying hours in “doing some art” — of whatever kind. This would most honor her, as this was Wanda’s life, legacy and joy.

A celebration of life for Wanda will be conducted Thursday, Jan. 9 at Bond-Mitchell Funeral Home, Nashville, at 1 p.m. Visitation will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Burial will follow in Oak Ridge Cemetery north of Helmsburg.

See Full List »

William Emmett Fisher, 73, Elizabethtown
  Father of William “Mark” (Marissa) Fisher of Nashville

Margaret (Stanley) Whitaker, 80, Morgantown
  Wife of Rawlins Whitaker of Morgantown

Ival 'Max' Skinner, 85, White Springs, Florida,
  Brown County native

  • August 27
    Nashville Town Council
    6:30 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • August 29
    Watermelon fundraiser on Village Green
    1 to 4 p.m. Village Green, Main and Jefferson streets
  • August 30
    Golf scramble to benefit BCHS athletics set
    1 p.m. Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • August 30
    Mission trip presentation at Fruitdale church
    2 p.m. Midway Church,
  • September 3
    7 to 9 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 3
    Future of rural places subject of talk
    5:30 p.m. Brown County Inn, 51 State Road 46 East
  • September 5
    BCHS class of 2005 reunion slated
    3 to 6 p.m., 8 p.m. Deer Run Park; Salt Creek Golf Retreat, 2359 State Road 46 East
  • September 6
    Read to dogs at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • September 8
    Peaceful Valley Heritage meeting
    6:30 p.m. BCCF, 209 S. Van Buren St.
  • September 8
    Retired teachers
    noon Hotel Nashville, 245 N. Jefferson St.
  • September 9
    Nashville Town Council
    6 p.m. Town Hall, 200 Commercial St.
  • September 12
    Free community breakfast at Sprunica church
    8 to 10 a.m. Sprunica Baptist Church, 3902 Sprunica Road
  • September 18
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    4 to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 18
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    7:30 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 19
    BucCornEar Festival fundraiser returns
    8 a.m. to 8 p.m. JTFD, 4831 Helmsburg Road, Helmsburg
  • September 19
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    6 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 20
    'A Miracle for You' services with evangelist Jerry Holland
    2 p.m. The Pentecostals
  • September 28
    American history DVD to play at library
    1 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane
  • October 4
    Read to a dog at the library
    2 to 3:30 p.m. Library, 205 N. Locust Lane