category: Campus News

The passing of Brona Maddox felt within Carson-Newman community

In a photo taken in the early 1990s, Brona Maddox and Carson-Newman President Dr. Cordell Maddox stand in front of what was then The President’s Home on Laurel Hills Circle in Jefferson City.

(March 19, 2018) – As spring break came to a close for faculty, staff and students, news quickly spread when members of the Carson-Newman campus community learned of the passing of one of its own – Brona Maddox. In a display of the news’ impact, the University lowered its campus flag to half-staff in memory of its former First Lady.

Brona, who passed away on March 7, served as the University’s First Lady from 1977 to 1999. She worked alongside her husband, Carson-Newman’s 20th president Dr. J. Cordell Maddox, as the couple sought to advance Carson-Newman and its mission in Christian higher education for over two decades.

Carson-Newman President J. Randall O’Brien said that the loss is very real. “Mrs. Brona Maddox was the longest serving First Lady in Carson-Newman history,” said O’Brien. “For 23 years she served faithfully and elegantly alongside President Maddox, sharing the joys and challenges with grace and beauty. We loved her dearly and we will miss her.”

While at Carson-Newman, the North Carolina native helped foster a sense of community through her involvement with The Faculty Women’s Club and helping to establish Les Amies, an organization consisting of women of the surrounding community and women of the campus community. In 2000, the group renamed the organization’s scholarship in her honor: The Brona Maddox Les Amies Scholarship Fund.

Current C-N First Lady Kay O’Brien spoke to the significance of the fund. “Our deepest sympathies go out to the Maddox family,” said O’Brien. “I will always remember Brona’s warm welcome to me and her supportive presence when we began our work at C-N. Her memory and influence will forever be significant as students are blessed with the Brona Maddox Les Amies Scholarship Fund.”

A degree in music and theater from Furman University, coupled with a love for learning, served her well. Along with her role as C-N’s First Lady, Brona took the opportunity to foster education in the greater community as a music teacher for the Jefferson County School System.

Jeanette Blazier, a University Board of Trustee member and former board chair, said she was privileged to have known Brona throughout Dr. Maddox’s presidency. “She was a warm, supportive and caring First Lady,” recalled Blazier. “She supported Dr. Maddox every step of the way. Her many contributions to Carson-Newman and to Jefferson County will long be remembered.

Dr. Kitty Coffey, chair of the University’s Family and Consumer Sciences Department couldn’t agree more. “Mrs. Maddox was a beautiful, talented and vivacious First Lady of Carson-Newman,” said Coffey, who joined C-N’s faculty the same year the Maddoxes arrived to campus. “Health, wellness and fitness were priorities for Mrs. Maddox. She [also] demonstrated her strong belief in family during the 22 years she and Dr. Maddox served Carson-Newman.”

In a 1999 interview upon her husband’s retirement, Brona recalled her early impressions of when the two arrived in Jefferson City. It was 1977 and the couple decided to leave South Carolina’s Anderson College where Dr. Maddox was serving as president to take the helm of what was then Carson-Newman College. “I couldn’t figure out why- if he [Cordell] wasn’t interested in another job- he kept visiting that college across the mountain.” Once they arrived on the banks of Mossy Creek, Brona said it didn’t take long for both of them to realize that they absolutely loved their surroundings. “We were happy at Anderson,” she recalled, “but this was a move we felt God wanted us to take.”

The fall 1999 issue of Journey magazine featured Brona and Dr. Cordell Maddox on its cover. The issue focused on the news of Maddox’s announced retirement from the C-N presidency. The couple served the University for 22 years.

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