The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

July 25, 2011

Outstanding graduates of Pattillo High School

C. Rudolph Knight

TARBORO — “Pattillo High, Pattillo High

“To your ideals we will aspire

“Maroon and Gold our emblem bold,

“Beckons us on as knights of old.

“Thy noble sons, Thy daughters fair

“Lift standards high with bugles blare.

“Long as thy God is God above,

“We’ll sing thy praise and show thy love.”

The above lyrics are the alma mater for the W. A. Pattillo High School (1924 – 1970) which was written circa 1950 by Thelma Quigless Foster, a native of Fort Gibson, Miss., and a graduate with A. B. degree from Alcorn A & M College, in Alcorn, Miss. Foster taught at the school for approximately 25 years. he song has inspired many Pattillo graduates through the years. The biographical sketches below are a sampling of the many outstanding students and their accomplishments. The Pattillo legacy lives on in the minds and hearts of all the former students even after the last graduating class 1970.

Not surrendering to her limitation

Marsha Elizabeth Baker Coles is a 1967 honor graduate of W. A. Pattillo High School. She attended Princeville Graded School from first through fourth grade and grew up in Princeville. Born with an extreme case of nearsightedness, Marsha always received her large-type textbooks about six weeks after school had began, because they had to be specially ordered; however, she was never behind in her studies and assignments.

After high school she attended and graduated from Bennett College with a bachelor of arts degree in business education and, then, continued her education at North Carolina A & T State University, receiving a master’s of education in guidance and counseling. Her career, spanning the past 30 years, has included a counselor position with St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC; a rehabilitation counselor in the N. C. Department of Health and Human Services, Division of the Services for the Blind; and, at UNC-Chapel Hill as director of staff development and training, program evaluation coordinator, and as a social worker.

She is a licensed professional counselor (NC Board Licensed Professional Counselors), Licensed School Counselor (NC Department of Public Instruction), Licensed Funeral Director (NC Board of Mortuary Science) and a Licensed Insurance Specialist (NC Department of Insurance). She also holds NC-Teach Certification (University of North Carolina at Wilmington).

Today, Mrs. Coles and her husband, the Rev. Dr. Clifton C. Coles, operate the Baker Funeral Home, continuing the legacy of sharing and giving to the community of Princeville and Tarboro where she provides grief and hospice counseling. Her parents, Jesse and Martha Matthewson Baker were founders of the Baker Funeral Homes and, today, the business is the oldest African American business in Tarboro.

Humble beginnings in the village of Princeville

Earl T. Brown, Esq. was born and reared in Princeville by his mother, Anna B. Brown, along with his sisters, Ann Brown Howell, Bettie Brown Cobb and Vananza Brown. He is a 1969 honor graduate of W. A. Pattillo High School. His “village fathers” were Asbury Batchelor and Jimmy Lee Stanley, and his “village mother” was Mrs. Peggy Stanley.

During his high school days in Tarboro, he worked at Marrow Pitt Hardware, Sugar's and Brill’s Department Stores, Deluxe Cleaners, and mowing lawns, with summer jobs at car dealerships in Arlington, Va.

While at North Carolina A & T, he worked at A & T and Jefferson Pilot Insurance Co. computer centers, American Textile & Dye Co., Guilford College Road Mobil Service Station, Greyhound Moving and Storage, and as a swimming instructor at Bennett College. After A & T, he began a career in computer systems design and support with Jefferson Pilot Insurance Company, then UNC-Chapel Hill, North Carolina Mutual Insurance in Durham, and Burroughs Wellcome Pharmaceuticals in Greenville.

After arriving in Greenville, he taught computer programming and flying classes at Pitt Community College and operated Martin County Airport, while starting Aero Sales Ltd. (an aviation business). Earl worked 1974-1978 while his wife attended the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Dentistry. After 19 years of working in the computer industry, Brown decided to pursue his dream of becoming an attorney, so, Dr. Brown supported the family during 1988-91 while he attended Campbell University School of Law.

Currently, Attorney Brown is sworn to practice before the U.S. Supreme and federal District Courts. He is a Superior Court Certified Mediator and a court-approved arbitrator. Brown also lists among his memberships the Eastern North Carolina Inn of Court, North Carolina Academy of Trial Lawyers, American Bar Association, North Carolina Bar Association; Attorney for Law Enforcement Officers provided through Divisions of Southern States Police Benevolent Association (PBA), and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) for Beaufort, Pitt, Lenoir and Martin counties, including the cities of Greenville, Williamston and Washington.

During his career as an attorney, he has served as the president of the Pitt County Bar Association and as an assistant district attorney. Brown has also served as the chairman of the Judiciary District 3--A Grievance Committee of the North Carolina State Bar (investigating complaints against lawyers); and as a member of the Elizabeth City State University Board of Trustees, appointed by both Governors James Hunt and Michael Easley, Trustee Emeritus of Elizabeth City State University, Charter member of Elizabeth City State University's Board of Visitors, a member of the Historical Murfreesboro Commission, appointed by Governor James Martin; a member of the WEED and SEED Steering Committee of Pitt County; Juvenile Crime Prevention Council; and the Paralegal Advisory Board of Pitt Community College.

Brown became the 2007 recipient of the Best-Irons Humanitarian of the Year Award and was Keynote Speaker for Elizabeth City State University December 2002 commencement ceremony. Since 1991, Attorney Brown has presented seminars to different legal groups on computerization of law offices. He has served as a member of the planning committee for the ABA’s annual Computer Technology Conference. Additionally, Brown is a motivational counselor in the area schools and is a volunteer mediator for the Eastern Carolina Mediation Center. For his outstanding work in his profession and the community, he has received recognition as a Distinguished Alumnus of both North Carolina A & T State University and Campbell University School of Law.

 Brown is married to Dr. H. J. Brown, a dentist, owner of H. J. Brown and Associates, D.D.S., P.A. in Greenville. The Browns have one son, attorney Derek K. Brown, the managing partner of the Brown Law Firm, P.C.

Dr. Florence Armstrong and Samuel G. Pippen, two more of the many Pattillo High School graduates who have been successful and who have made significant contributions to their communities, will be featured in next month’s column.

    C. Rudolph Knight, a Tarboro native, is a retired community college educator, and a research historian. Look for his monthly reports on Edgecombe County’s African-American history on the Community page.