NEWPORT NEWS - Mrs. Esther Amy Merriman Browning, formally of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and most recently residing with her husband in Newport News, Virginia, quietly went home to be with The Lord, on Sunday, November 24, 2013, at the age of 93. She was, as always, surrounded by the love of her family, a family that she loved and nurtured. Mrs. Esther A. Browning was the beloved daughter of Mr. Clifton Merriman and Mrs. Cornelia Ash Merriman of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Both of her parents were pillars of Union Baptist Church and in their community of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her mother and father's legacy from childhood could not help but shape her as a young woman. As the only child, Esther watched her father as a World War I hero, as the Commander of the VFW
Post, and in working his way through night school to eventually become the first Negro superintendent at the front window, of the Central Square Post Office, which was the talk of the Negro community of that day. The Central Square Post Office was eventually to become named in his honor, following his death. She was honored to know that this was one of the first Federal buildings in the North, to be named after an African American. Esther witnessed and participated in all these events, even being invited to celebrations, following his death. This all became an integral part of Esther's legacy. Mrs. Esther Browning graduated from Calvin Coolidge College with a B.A. degree in Psychology, and also took classes at Porsha Law School and Lesley College all in Boston, Massachusetts. She eventually became a Social worker in the Medford and Cambridge Massachusetts area, prior to marriage. Following a joyous and wonderful courtship, Esther Amy married Grainger Browning, of Raleigh North Carolina on April 20, 1947, at Union Baptist Church. They were soul mates and life-long partners for over 66 years. Out of that blessed union, were born two blessed children, a son Grainger Jr., and a daughter, Cornelia Aida. Mrs. Esther Browning, as a loving and watchful mother, loved nothing more than motherhood. She attended classes, meetings, conferences, women's organizations, followed current events, read books, and absorbed all that was available, always being inspired for more, and to pour into her children and family life. She was a loving co-laborer in marriage with her husband, lovingly sacrificed all, and soon, quietly realized, that her family called her "blessed" as a virtuous wife and mother. Shortly after marrying, Mrs. Browning was the Assistant Dean of Women at North Carolina A&T College and after moving to the Boston, Massachusetts area, she was employed as a Social worker. Her lifelong profession was that of an educator and for over 30 years, she was a talented, gifted, and dedicated elementary school teacher. She taught in the Public School Systems of Boston, MA, Hampton, VA, and retired from the Fitchburg, Massachusetts Public School System in 1981. As a native of Cambridge, MA, Mrs. Esther Browning and her family, in 1966, returned to be closer to her aging parents. While in Cambridge, she and the family were pillars at her home church of Union Baptist, where she and her husband were deeply committed and involved in the religious, civic and social life of the community. Mrs. Esther Browning was a longtime member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and was a "Delta Dear". Mrs. Esther Browning was also active in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People(NAACP), The National Council of Negro Women, and served in various capacities in many other community, civic and social organizations, too numerous to mention, throughout her life. Like her biblical namesake - "Esther", God was an integral part of Mrs. Esther Browning's daily life. Due to her lifelong dedication to the Church's ministry, Union Baptist bestowed upon her and her husband the honor, of having a building named, The Esther and Grainger Browning Center for Christian Education. In 2001, upon moving to Hampton Virginia in retirement, and to be closer in proximity to their grown children, Mrs. Browning continued with her church involvement at First Baptist Church of Hampton. At First Baptist, she served in the Good Will Circle, the St. Paul Sunday School Class, the Women's Bible Study, attended the Church's Computer Classes and numerous other church activities and functions into her latter years. With quiet, unassuming strength, like "Queen Esther" in the Bible, Mrs. Esther Amy Merriman Browning was uniquely anointed by God as an instrument of love, grace and nobility. This anointing was nurtured, rooted and enhanced through her mother and father, embraced in her marriage, extended to her children and was bestowed upon her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Mrs. Esther Amy Merriman Browning was an extension of God's love, to her family, as well as the larger community. And because of this life of sacrificial love, Mrs. Esther Amy Merriman Browning has now received her heavenly reward. This is her legacy. She is survived by her loving husband of 66 years, Dr. Grainger Browning, Sr., a son, Rev. Dr. Grainger Browning, Jr. (daughter-in-love, Rev. Dr. Jo Ann Browning) of Ft. Washington, MD, and a daughter, Elder Cornelia Browning Moore of Newport News, VA; one grandson, Grainger Browning, III (Courtney Riley Browning) of Accokeek, MD, one granddaughter, Candace J. M. Davis (Andre'); three great grandchildren, Kaylah and Grainger Browning, IV, Imani Davis and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, family, friends, and loving caretakers. A funeral service will be held at 11 am Tuesday, December 3, 2013, at First Baptist Church, Hampton, VA. A wake will be held from 9:30 am until the hour of the service Tuesday morning at the church. A final homegoing service will be held at 11 am, Friday, December 6, 2013, at Union Baptist Church, 874 Main Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139. Interment will follow at Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA. A final wake will be held from 9:30 am until the hour of the service at the church on Friday morning. The family encourages and requests heartfelt contributions to be sent of The Esther and Grainger Browning Center for Christian Education of Union Baptist Church at the address listed above. O.H. Smith & Son Funeral Home is honored to serve the family in Newport News, VA. A.J. Spears Funeral Home is handling arrangements in Cambridge, Massachusetts.