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LEGACY: Betty Brinson helped keep Memphis in tune

Anyone who has been to Brinson’s Downtown Lounge to enjoy a jazz set likely knows its owner, Betty Brinson. On Monday morning, Jan. 11, she died, according to her eldest son, Eric Brinson.

“Mother had not been sick at all, but she started not feeling well around New Year’s Day,” said Eric. “She passed away Monday morning at Methodist Hospital South in Whitehaven.

Mrs. Brinson was born June 7, 1943, in Hope, Arkansas to the union of Willie O. Lee and Vernell Langston McFaddon. She was the third of seven children.

Educated in Chicago Public Schools, she graduated from Farragut High School in 1962. She earned a bachelor’s degree in History at Roosevelt University in Chicago later received a masters degree in Educational Administration from the University of Memphis.

In 1966, Betty McFaddon married Emmitt R. Brinson, who died in 2008. They had four son: Eric, Emil, Byron and Emmitt.

Mrs. Brinson began her teaching career in Chicago at Harlan High School as a history teacher. In Memphis, she began teaching at Geeter High School in 1972. She worked as a guidance counselor at Sheffield High School and as a vice-principal at Lanier Jr. High School, where she retired from in 2008. 

During her career as an educator and administrator, Mrs. Brinson led Project Achieve at Northside High School. The program was funded by the Department of Defense and prepared young people for medical and science careers.

Mrs. Brinson was a long-time member of Temple of Deliverance COGIC, serving as Sunday School superintendent under the leadership of the late pastor, Bishop G.E. Patterson. 

In 2011, she founded a nonprofit organization called, “He’s My Brother.” The program sponsored outreach ministry efforts, including to the homeless. Mrs. Brinson also founded a spiritual outreach ministry of women called “Prayer Works.”

She was a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, as well as a member of the Golden Girls, a social club.

She leaves her four sons, all of Memphis; two siblings, Janice McFaddon and Willie McFaddon Jr., both of Chicago; 11 great-grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, four nephews, a goddaughter and a host of other relatives.

Jefferson Mortuary in Millington has charge. Final arrangements are pending.

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