Barbara Brown

Eamon Queeney

Since 1983, Barbara Brown has been “loving on the babies,” as she says, in the early childhood program at Edenton Street United Methodist Church. That is 35 years of holding fussy babies, rocking them to sleep, feeding them everything from bottles to solid foods, singing songs, and playing with them as they make some of their earliest discoveries. In that time, she’s been a teacher to well over 350 infants, she estimates, and has no plans of quitting anytime soon. “I just enjoy it too much,” says Brown. “This is God’s plan for me at this point in time, and I hope he’ll let me keep doing it.”

Brown was actually the first infant teacher for the Early Childhood Program, which started only a few years earlier than when she began teaching there. Her degree is in nursing and her husband was a pediatrician before he retired, which had them in Chapel Hill, Florida, and California before they relocated to Raleigh in 1970 to work, live, and raise a family. Once their daughters were in grade school, she and another teacher started caring for the infants at the weekday preschool at Hayes Barton Baptist Church before moving over to Edenton Street United Methodist Church.

By now, the babies who were in her first few years of classes are all grown up, many with families of their own. Sometimes she will see wedding announcements in the paper for former students, and a number of church attendees were also in the infant room with her. While she never expected she would still be in same classroom decades later, she continues to stay because she loves the babies, and says it’s what keeps her going. “These little ones are God’s blessings.” —Samantha Gratton