Happy 100th birthday to Sally Brown

| April 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sara Shallenberger Brown (Sally) who will be celebrating her 100th Easter on Sunday!

All her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gave a fabulous birthday party on April 14 at her home in Harrods Creek, followed by another celebration on April 17.

All of them said “she looked gorgeous.”

KET aired her documentary titled “Sally Brown Force of Nature” on Saturday evening, which began with her birth in Alaska, the daughter of Army officer Martin Shallenberger, who did not tell his new bride they were stationed in Alaska.

“Mother had to pack away all her summer clothes and buy winter clothes right away,” Sally said.

Sally was born on a snowy day in April in Valdez, Alaska.

Her brother, Martin, was born later. Later they were sent to Fort McPherson in Georgia. She graduated from Sweet Briar College where she was invited to Louisville by a fellow student who gave her a party at the Louisville Country Club. That’s where she met W.L. Lyons Brown, son of the Brown-Forman bourbon manufacturer.

It was a case of love at first sight.

He wrote her mother that he was naming a race horse “Sally Shall.” And her mother knew they were going to get married.

Sally, indeed, did shall!

W.L’s parents lived in Harrods Creek, and they lived with her father-in-law as his mother had died.

W.L. taught her everything about  Kentucky history and gardening, cooking and literature. They both adored the time spent there.

They had Lee, Martin, Owsley and Ina.

She said she cared about two things: climate and education. And she devoted her life to preservation and is responsible for preserving 500 acres of Kentucky River Palisades, which is named the Sally Brown Nature Preserve.

For education, she funded and dedicated Bellarmine’s W.L. Lyons Library. She believed in devoting herself to everything green that grows on the earth. She is famous for preserving the Arctic Wildlife Rescue.

Sally Brown

Meeting Sally brown

I met Sally Brown at my wedding to her cousin, D. Irving Long, in 1954.

Sally’s mother took me under her wing at Easter egg hunts. Her Easter egg game was “dueling” with eggs – your egg against theirs – the winner cracked the other one’s.

Her secret was to use the small end of the egg to crack the other one!

Maybe you’d like to teach your little kids this trick.

Sally gave me story after story that I wrote in The Voice. One day, I went to see her and she had all my columns out on a long table.

“You must put these in a book,” she said. “It is a history of Louisville’s social life.”

I remember several years ago when she invited me to lunch. Her dear cook had to retire so she had her granddaughter bring the lunch from her catering company.

She seated me at a table on the patio, and disappeared into the kitchen.

“Don’t get up,” she said, appearing minutes later carrying a tray with our lovely salad, rolls and iced tea.

I had to sit there and let her wait on me as she unfolded a beautiful monogram linen napkin.

Sally, thank you for your friendship and your devotion.

Her video ends with Sally’s quote, “to get the environmental job done as a woman you have to think like a man, act like a lady and work like a dog.”

“Years later I was driving the tractor as my little great granddaughter and her friends were watching. ‘That’s my grammie,’ she said. ‘She thinks like a man, acts like a lady and looks like a dog.’ ”

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Category: The Social Side

About the Author (Author Profile)

Lucie Blodgett
Always out and about at happenings around town, Lucie Blodgett has been writing a weekly column for The Voice-Tribune for more than two decades.

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