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Published: Saturday, 7/17/2004

Grandma picketed to free grandson

Reaber Esther "Granny" Brown, formerly of Oakwood Avenue, who in the late 1980s and early 1990s picketed in front of the Lucas County Courthouse in what turned out to be a successful effort to get her grandson released from prison, died Tuesday in the Heartland-Holly Glen nursing home. She was 96.

Ms. Brown died of natural causes, family members said.

Ms. Brown's grandson, Morgan "Tony" Miller, was convicted for a 1983 armed robbery in which a Toledo police officer was shot.

Starting in 1987, Ms. Brown picketed in front of the courthouse five days a week, believing the robbery was committed by another man.

In the following years, family members pleaded with her to take care of her deteriorating health. Ms. Brown continued picketing, albeit only three days a week.

"She was willing to walk until she died if she had to," Candice Mcgee, a great-granddaughter, said.

When his conviction was overturned in 1992 by the state's 6th District Court of Appeals, Mr. Miller met his grandmother in the lobby of the Lucas County jail.

She had no long speeches for him, he said. "She just said: 'Welcome home.'"

Mr. Miller, who now works as a fast-food cook, said he had no idea how much Ms. Brown was marching while he was in prison.

Ms. Brown later was recognized by then-city Councilman Jack Ford and then-Mayor John McHugh for her efforts.

The granddaughter of a slave, Ms. Brown was born in Cairo, Ill., to Mary and Scott Thompson, a railroad worker. She moved to Toledo in her early teens, and was married at the age of 15 to David Brown, to whom she was married for 81 years.

Ms. Brown worked as a housekeeper and nanny for several wealthy families in Toledo and also found the time to raise grandchildren and and great-grandchildren as if they were her own.

"She taught us all how to read even before we went to school," Ms. Mcgee said.

Ms. Brown was a member of the Calvary Baptist Church and First Church of God in Toledo.

Surviving are her husband, David Brown, who is 100 years old; three grandchildren, and a number of great-grandchildren.

Wake services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in the First Church of God, with the funeral services immediately following. Arrangements are being handled by the House of Day Funeral Home.

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