Edna Brown, longtime state lawmaker and Toledo City Council member, dies

Published: Jan. 1, 2022 at 2:59 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Edna Brown, a longtime public servant and political figure from Toledo, died on Saturday, her family said. She was 81.

Brown retired from public office in 2018 after a decades-long career advocating for Toledo and northwest Ohio. Her work in the statehouse started in the House of Representatives, where she served from 2002-2010. She then served as a state senator from 2011-2018.

The Toledo native worked for the City of Toledo for 32 years and served on City Council for six years. At the statehouse, Brown’s work focused on voting rights, health, violence against women and economic development.

Brown’s long list of other roles included serving as the First Vice President of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. She also worked on the Executive Committee of the National Black Caucus of State legislators, and worked with a nonpartisan national organization for women lawmakers, WILL/WAND.

Brown was a key player in the founding of the Greater Toledo Urban League and previously served on the Administration Board for Braden United Methodist Church. She was awarded by the YWCA with the 2007 Milestone Award for her contributions.

She was also the first “ROSA” Award recipient, an honor given by the Toledo Board of Community Relations for “living a life parallel to the example set by civil rights leader Rosa Parks.”

Brown, who was educated in the Toledo Public Schools, graduated from Whitney Vocational High School, the University of Toledo and Mary Manse College. Her time as an employee with the City of Toledo involved her wearing hats in various departments.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.

State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) succeeded Brown as the state senator for Ohio’s 11th district. The two started working together in the legislature when Brown replaced Jack Ford, who left his position in the House of Representatives to take on the role as mayor of Toledo.

The start of her tenure meant Toledo’s representatives in the state Senate (Fedor, Linda Furney), House (Jeanine Perry, Brown) and U.S. House of Representatives (Marcy Kaptur) were all women.

“That was a proud moment,” Fedor said in an interview with 13abc. “She taught me so much.”

Remembering Edna Brown

Remembering a staple of Toledo's political history: Today, we learned that Edna Brown, a former state lawmaker and longtime public figure in Toledo, died at the age of 81. State Sen. Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson (D-Toledo) share their memories of Brown and talk about the legacy she leaves behind.

Posted by Josh Croup on Saturday, January 1, 2022

Fedor said Brown had an ‘Openness about her’ that made her easy to open up to and trust. She praised Brown’s willingness to work with lawmakers who disagreed with her to work on legislation.

“You felt that if you were doing something for Edna, you were doing something for everybody,” Fedor said.

Rep. Paula Hicks-Hudson told 13abc that Brown looked past partisan politics and cared deeply about looking for solutions to problems.

“It was never about her name being on a bill as a sponsor,” Hicks-Hudson said. “She left her ego at the door when it came to the people she represented.”

Randy Gardner, Chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education, was the senate majority leader when Brown served as the senate minority whip. He also described Brown’s willingness to work for the people she represented and work with members outside of her party.

“I am so saddened to learn of Edna Brown’s passing,” Gardner said in a statement to 13abc. “She was a wonderful friend and an effective senator who knew how to work across the aisle to get things done for Toledo. She is a special example of what true public service should be.”

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