A Tribute
Mary Alice Gyger Browning
January 12, 1930 – January 18, 2023

In January, we lost a great friend to the North Carolina Friends Historical Society and Jamestown, North Carolina, lost a prominent citizen who knew its history better than many born and bred there!

Mary Alice Gyger was born January 12, 1930, in Missouri Valley, Iowa, to Cecil Everett Gyger Sr. and Alice Louise Adkins Gyger. She had one older brother, Cecil Everett Gyger Jr. Her childhood was spent in Longmont, Colorado, where she graduated from Longmont High School. Mary graduated from the University of Colorado-Boulder in 1952 with a BA in Music Education.

It was in Colorado where she would meet and marry Frederick Perrigo Browning in 1952. They would have two sons, Christopher Mark Browning and Bruce Duncan Browning. Following several moves, the family moved to Jamestown in 1969 when Fred was transferred with his job with Western Electric Company. Mary engaged with her adopted hometown striving to learn all she could about its history.

Larry Cates, the librarian at High Point Public Library’s Heritage Research Center, commented that in addition to being a professional genealogist, she was “one of the most reliable sources [he had known] on family topics and local history.” Jimmy Tomlin of The High Point Enterprise called her a “local genealogical rock star.”

Indeed, she helped many people to trace their family history, edited The Guilford Genealogist, the journal of the Guilford County Genealogical Society, as well our Society’s journal, The Southern Friend. She received our Society’s Poole Writing Award in 2014 for her essay, “The Slaves of George C. Mendenhall of Jamestown, North Carolina.”

From 2005 to 2016, she had a periodic column in the Greensboro News and Record which often focused on Jamestown’s history. Cindy Loman, her editor at the paper, called Mary “a gift to her community, passionate about researching and sharing its history.”

Mary Browning was honored by the Jamestown Historical Society with the Mary A. Browning Historic Preservation Award where she was the first recipient. Julia Ebel, Historic Jamestown Society’s president, summed up Mary’s contributions, “Mary Browning lived with a purpose, aware of the need to preserve our history and our rich heritage. Known for her research and her books on our local history, she has broadened awareness for many of us and left us a treasure trove of facts and insights.”

Gwen Gosney Erickson called her “a favorite researcher” in Guilford College’s Quaker Archives where she was also a volunteer. She made valuable contributions including the “transcripts of the Harriet Peck letters which numerous students have been able to use in classes due to Mary’s careful work to translate Harriet’s miniscule handwriting into legible type.”

She spent numerous hours in the Quaker Archives at Guilford College as well as in other libraries and collections and she taught classes on genealogy at Guilford Technical Community College. Shawn Rogers, of the Mendenhall Homeplace, called her “a gracious and generous mentor and a dear friend who will be greatly missed.” In the 50-plus years she lived in Guilford County, Shawn said she made “significant and far-reaching contributions to the research, interpretation and publication of local history and genealogy. As Carol Brooks wrote about Jamestown history for the local newspaper, it was her goal “not to receive a phone call from Mary when the paper came out telling [her] what [she] had got wrong.”

In addition to a plethora of articles, she published five books, Bending the Twigs in Jamestown: A History of Education in Jamestown, North Carolina, 1755-1945 (2004), Remembering Old Jamestown: A Look Back at the Other South (2008), Historical Places in Jamestown (2008), Oakdale Cotton Mills (2009), and The Murder of Martha Pinix: A True Tale of Old Jamestown and Deep River (2011). She even assisted in the production of a film, “Oakdale Cotton Mills: Close-Knit Neighbors” in 2009.

Mary is survived by her two sons, Christopher and Bruce; daughters-in-law, Sarah and Laurie; and grandchildren, David, Matthew, Michael, Chloe, and Ian.

This tribute was made possible by input from the following admirers of Mary Browning: Carol Brooks, Jamestown News; Gwen Gosney Erickson, Guilford College; Jessie Pounds, Greensboro News and Record; Shawn Rogers, Mendenhall Homeplace of Historic Jamestown; and Jimmy Tomlin, The High Point Enterprise.

M. Gertrude Beal

Remembering Damon Douglas Hickey

Damon Douglas Hickey, 80, of Wooster, died on Monday, December 26, 2022 at his home.

He was born on October 30, 1942 in Houston, TX, the second of two children of Thomas Earl Hickey and the former Ethel Elizabeth Place. In 1967, he married Mary Lyons Temple in Princeton, NJ.

Damon was a graduate of Rice University (BA in philosophy, 1965), Princeton Theological Seminary (MDiv, 1968), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (MS in library science, 1975), the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (MA in history, 1982) and the University of South Carolina at Columbia (PhD in history, 1989).

A Presbyterian minister from 1969 until 1976, he served pastorates in Texas and Oklahoma. He was Associate Library Director, Curator of the Friends (Quaker) Historical Collection and Adjunct Assistant Professor of History at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, 1975-1991. He was Director of Libraries at the College of Wooster from 1991 until 2008.

He was the author of articles, chapters and books on religion, history and library science and was active in historical and library organizations. He was one of the founders of the Five Colleges of Ohio Consortium. The Flo K. Gault Library for Independent Study and the Timken Science Library in Frick Hall were completed during his tenure at the College of Wooster. Damon was a member of the Wooster Friends (Quaker) Meeting from 1991 until he joined St. James Episcopal Church in 2001. He served on St. James’ vestry, chaired the Peace and Justice Committee and was Building Shepherd for the recent renovation and addition to the Church building. He was active in the Diocese of Ohio where he served as a Missioner and was involved in the development of Bellwether Farm Camp, Retreat and Education Center.

Damon was a member of the Wooster Homelessness Task Force. He and Mary were primary supporters of Princeton Place and a new project with the Wayne Metropolitan Housing Authority that intends to convert the former Lamplighters facility into a community center and housing complex.

As an avid lover of music and singing, Damon most recently engaged his lifelong interest in choral music through participation in the Cantate Singers and the St. James choir.

Damon is survived by his wife, Mary Temple Hickey, of Wooster; and daughter, Doralyn (Brian) Rossmann, of Bozeman, MT.

He was preceded in death by his parents; and a sister, Doralyn Joanne Hickey.

Memorial services will be held on Saturday, January 7, 2023 at 11:00 AM at St. James Episcopal Church, 201 N. Market St., Wooster, with Rev. Evan Fischer officiating. The family will greet friends following the service.

McIntire, Bradham & Sleek Funeral Home, 216 E. Larwill St., Wooster, is assisting the family.

The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to St. James Episcopal Church, 122 E. North St., Wooster, OH 44691 (https://www.stjameswooster.org/donate) or to the Women’s Advisory Board, Damon and Mary Hickey Endowed Emergency Scholarship Fund, c/o Cathy Roche, Treasurer, 230 N. Market St., Wooster, OH 44691.

Online condolences may be left for the family at www.mcintirebradhamsleek.com