In memoriam: Missionary emeritus Mary Catherine Adams Brothers, 100

Mary Catherine Adams Brothers, 1920-2021

Mary Catherine Adams Brothers, an International Mission Board missionary emeritus who shared the gospel among Sub-Saharan African Affinity Peoples in Nigeria, died March 11, 2021. She was 100.

Brothers was born Oct. 24, 1920, in Ocala, Florida, to the late Byron Lawton and Rylla Abigail Bailey Adams. She became a Christian at age 13. While doing secretarial work for her pastor while in high school, she decided to enter full-time Christian service.

According to her family, in high school she played clarinet in the marching band wearing pants and a bob haircut. No one knew there was a woman in the previous all male band. She attended Mars Hill College and received the Bachelor of Arts from Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University). Her first job after graduation was working as a research chemist with the Carborundum Company in Niagara Falls, New York.

When the war broke out, the family wrote, Brothers worked in airport traffic control with the Civil Aeronautics Administration before joining the WAVES. After the war she entered the Woman’s Missionary Union Training School in Louisville, Kentucky. While there she took flying lessons and earned her pilot’s license along with the Master of Religious Education.

In 1948 the Foreign Mission Board (now International Mission Board) appointed her a missionary to Nigeria, where she taught in the Baptist College in Iwo. She led the college choir and taught music lessons to future pastors. She also played her clarinet in villages, her family wrote, to attract crowds to hear about “a God who loves them.”

In Iwo Mary Adams met Raymon Brothers, a recent widower. They were married May 4, 1952, in Ede, Nigeria. From there they moved to Ibadan, Nigeria, where she raised their four children while serving as church organist and Sunday School Superintendent at Orita Mefa Baptist Chapel. She also wrote articles for the Nigerian Baptist Standard publication. As the children grew older, she began Laubach Literacy training and traveled to remote villages to teach reading.

After retiring in 1969, Raymon and Mary returned to DeLand, Florida, where they had built a house. Mary was a deacon in her church and an adult Sunday School teacher. She was also a Stephen Ministry Trainer. She worked in prison ministry and with Community Outreach Services to start a half-way house for people recovering from substance abuse. Mary and Raymon hosted and befriended several Stetson University students.

Mary was preceded in death by her husband L. Raymon Brothers, and her son-in-law Mark Norvell. She is survived by her children Raymon Thomas Brothers (Lisa), Mary Lee Norvell, Catherine May Lowenstein (Peter), Doris Neale Ward (Phil), 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.

A graveside service was held March 21, 2021, at Oakdale Cemetery in DeLand, Fla.

Read an obituary here.