Blacks@Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

Robert Davis Brown

Episcopal Priest and Loyal Dartmouth Alumnus

alumnus image

Dartmouth College A.B.

Class of 1898

1901 Episcopal Theol. Sem. (B.D.)

Born  1873  Richmond VA

Died 1940 Pittsburgh PA

Quotes from Biographical Sources

On Tuesday, March 26, 1910, while he was on his way to a hospital to visit a patient who was not even one of his parishioners, Rev. Robert Davis Brown was stricken with a heart attack and died four hours later. Bob was born in Richmond, Va., on September 14, 1873, the son of William C. and Elizabeth (Allison) Brown and passed his early life in Washington, D. C. He prepared for college at Washington, D. C, High School, and after receiving his A.B. from Dartmouth with our class, he attended the Episcopal Theological School, Cambridge, Mass., where he received the degree of B.D.

After graduating from the theological school he was a minister in Philadelphia, from 1901 to 1903. From 1903 to 1912 he was rector of St. Philip's church, Columbus, Ohio, and from 1912 to 1924 rector of St. Philip's church, Newark, N. J. In 1924 he became rector of the Church of the Holy Cross, Pittsburgh, Pa., and he remained there until his death.

In addition to his parochial duties he was a member of the board of trustees of the Bishop Tuttle School of Social Work at Raleigh, N. C. He was a member of the Social Service Committee of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, a member of the board of the Federation of Social Agencies, a member of the Council of the Community Fund.

From 1933 to 1936 he was president of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, and he then declined a reelection because of failing health. Bob was the first colored president in the history of the local League. During his term as president the Urban League began to sponsor with the Trinity Cathedral and the Community Forum an annual interracial, inter-denominational series of meetings. He was chairman of the Reviewing Board of the Allegheny County Board of Public Assistance at a time when decisions by the Board would serve as precedents for later decisions. He was a member of a committee from the Conference of Social Agencies to study the needs of the unemployed, Soho district. In addition to his numerous other activities for the past ten years Bob had been special chaplain at the U. S. Veterans Hospital at Aspinwall.

January 1, 1907, he was married to Jennie A. Lee of Columbus, Ohio, who survives him, with a daughter Ruth, who received an A.B. from Wellesley in 1928 and an A.M. from Columbia in 1931.

It was a deep regret to Bob that he had been unable to attend a class reunion until the last two. At these no member of the class was more heartily welcomed than was Bob. We echo the sentiment of the closing words of an editorial of the monthly magazine of the Pittsburg Urban League following Bob’s death. "In his sudden passing on Tuesday. March 20, the League lost one of its most valued friends— and the whole community lost one of its best loved citizens. But Pittsburgh is a better city because he passed this way."

Necrology. (May 1940). Dartmouth Alumni Magazine, 32(8), 89-90.

Other source(s)

  1. The Churchman. (1940). (v. 154), 34.

Profile image source: Dartmouth College Alumni Files