AU honors heritage with Millers, Browns

Wed, 2012-07-25 08:31 -- univcomm
Dr. T. Franklin Miller, 92, and his wife, Gertie, 86, were bestowed with the Heritage Award from Anderson University in honor of their numerous contributions to the university and the Church of God. The Heritage Award was also presented posthumously to the late C.E. and Carrie Brown. Accepting the award on behalf of the Brown family were their daughters, Evelyn Brown Byrum and Dorothy Brown Sankey. About 400 people attended the Heritage Dinner at Olt Student Center on AU's campus. The dinner/awards program began in 1994 as a way of celebrating the legacy and relationship that exists between the university, church and community (PHOTO: AU President Emeritus Dr. Robert Nicholson speaks with Dorothy Brown Sankey).

"This fall, Anderson University marks its 85th year of preparing students for lives of faith and service. We celebrate this occasion not only with exuberance but also with gratitude. This milestone would not have been possible without the faith, encouragement and support of so many friends along the way, including those we honor here tonight," said Dr. James L. Edwards, the fourth president of the university as he began his introduction of the new Heritage honorees.

Franklin T. Miller's relationship with Anderson University began during the lean years of the Great Depression. He received a calling to share the gospel, so he left his Iowa home for Anderson. Gertie was inspired by her parents and Maryland church to attend Anderson University so she could expand her musical talent.

She was an AU student when she met Franklin, who was pastoring a congregation in Malden, Mass.

"One Sunday, his church welcomed Anderson University's first traveling ladies quartet, and the soprano caught Dr. Miller's attention," Edwards told the crowd of when Franklin met Gertie the first time.

Gertie later graduated and began her work as a minister of music and Christian education in Baltimore.

"It was a long drive from Malden but close enough to sustain a 'commuter romance,'" said Edwards, adding the Millers joined their lives and ministry in 1939.

They returned to Anderson in 1943, where they began serving the Church of God and AU in many capacities.

Edwards noted the Millers would often open up their home and hearts to AU students on a regular basis, because they remembered their own student days of little money and homesickness. They also had a special concern for foreign students and established a fund for international students attending the School of Theology.

While accepting the Heritage Award, Franklin Miller quipped about his age.

"Some of you know that there were two boatloads that came over across the ocean in 1620. The first one stopped in Plymouth and the second one came to Indiana, and here I am," he said. The audience roared.

"I first came to Anderson in 1929," Franklin added, recalling the gloom when Dr. John A. Morrison, the first president of AU, announced the stock market crash.

"Dr. Morrison said, 'The stock market has fallen and closed.' All I knew that was stock was cattle and pigs. And we had a tough time getting through that first year without any cash. One man paid his daughter's tuition with a whole carload of potatoes. Another man paid his daughter's tuition with a carload of cabbage," Miller said, adding another parent gave the college three barrels of sauerkraut.

Miller stressed AU's heritage goes back to those who dared to have ideas and dreams for the university.

"I hope you dream big dreams for the future of Anderson University and help make those dreams come true," he said to the crowd. He also encouraged those in attendance to get their pens and include AU in their estate planning.

The Millers received a standing ovation after Franklin spoke.

"We don't deserve it," he said quietly afterward regarding the Heritage Award. "I know half the people in this room and they deserve it."

Byrum and Sanky were greeted by many well-wishers on behalf of their late parents, C.E. and Carrie Brown.

"It was a nice surprise," Byrum said, about when she learned of the Heritage Award in honor in her parents' ministry and work.

The Browns were remembered during the Heritage Dinner for having spent their lives contributing to the church and university.

"C.E. began his career as a minister at age 11," Edwards said, adding C.E. met his wife during a Church of God camp meeting. They served churches in several states.

In 1930, C.E. Brown was called to be editor-in-chief of the Gospel Trumpet, the primary voice of the Church of God. And during this time, he also was pastoring a Church of God in Huntington.

"He would travel to Anderson during the week to work and then minister to his people back home every Sunday," said Edwards.

The family eventually moved to Anderson, and in the early days of the Anderson University School of Theology, C.E. served as a special lecturer in theology.

Once their children completed college, Carrie worked at the Gospel Trumpet boxing cards. She used her salary to help charitable causes. In the evenings, she boxed donated clothing to be sent to church congregations in Germany during the war.

C.E. and Carrie Brown both died in 1971.

Edwards noted their legacy continues as the Brown family established the C.E. Brown Endowed Scholarship Funds to aid seminary students, and later established the Carrie Becker Brown Endowed Scholarship Fund for students pursuing degrees in social work.

--Writer Theresa Campbell is Features Editor for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.