Mary Modena Penland Brown, age 88, of Chattanooga, passed away Saturday, January 9, 2021 in a local assisted living.

She was born May 7, 1932 in Asheville, NC to the late Charles Nelson and Bertha Mae Penland. She grew up in a large and loving family, the youngest of nine children. She graduated high school from the Plonk School of Creative Arts, where she learned a love for drama and performance.

She received dual Bachelors degrees of Education and of Religious Education through attendance at Asheville Biltmore Tech, Converse College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, and a Masters of Education from Western Carolina. She was a former teacher at A. C. Reynolds High School in Asheville, N.C., where she taught English and Drama, directing her school’s Drama Department to win several awards for various productions. She went on to teach English at Alcoa High School in Alcoa, TN. She later taught English and CDC classes at Ringgold High School in Ringgold, GA, from 1982 until retiring in 1998. She was loved by all of her students and coworkers, earning her the honor of being named Teacher of the Year during her time at Ringgold. After retiring, she maintained her teaching certificate and continued to work regularly as a substitute teacher at Ringgold High School until 2018.

Her husband, Walter “Larry” Brown, and siblings, Blanche Louele Pruett, Evelyn Margurite Penland Blau, Bertha Mae (AKA Jackie) Penland, Johnny Getty Penland, Paul Lee Penland, Charles Lemuel (AKA Bill) Penland, and James Penland preceded her in death.

Mrs. Brown was a longtime member of Christ United Methodist Church where she was actively involved in a variety of groups and ministries throughout the years. She was most recently active with the JOY Group, where she helped coordinate attendance and served as an emissary for welcoming new members from the church and surrounding community.

Mrs. Brown is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Becca & Craig McClure of Ooltewah, TN; brother, Garrett Eugene (Mary June) Penland of Arden, NC; and numerous nieces and nephews. She will be remembered by family and friends as a bright spirit who devoted herself to uplifting others and who knew no strangers, but welcomed everyone, new friends and old, into her circle of light. She was a loving mother, wife, sister, friend, teacher, and mentor, with a forgiving spirit and the ability to weather life’s challenges with grace and positivity. Her loving influence will be greatly missed, but will live on through all who have had the honor to know her.

A private service will be live-streamed on Facebook Live on the Chattanooga Funeral Home, East Brainerd Chapel’s Facebook page. You may join Wednesday, January 13, 2021 at 3:30 p.m. by clicking the following link:

Burial will be at Riverside Cemetery, 53 Birch Street, Asheville, NC 28801, on Friday, January 15, at a time as yet to be determined.

Memorial contributions may be made to Christ United Methodist Church, 8645 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

Arrangements are by the East Brainerd Chapel of Chattanooga Funeral Home, Crematory & Florist, 8214 East Brainerd Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421.

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