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Glenn Brown's blackberry patch perfect location for children's home in western North Carolina

August 6, 2013

By W. James Edminson

Every year for the last 53 years, friends of Broyhill Home have gathered together for an afternoon of inspiration and fellowship. This year’s 54th Western Area Conference on the campus in Clyde is slated for September 5 at 4:00 p.m.

“I can’t help it,” 87-year-old Glenn Brown says. “Every time I attend the Conference, over all these years, and hear the children share their testimonies, it touches my heart and I tear up.”

Brown’s first trips to the mountain cove was as a boy when he crossed the road from his uncle’s farm every summer to pick blackberries.

“The property had a spring running through the middle of it,” he recalls. “The spring fed one of the best blackberry patches in the county. Four or five berries could fill the palm of my hand back then.”

These childhood experiences and a friendship with the property owners Robert and Gwen Medford led Brown to recommend the land to then Baptist Children’s Homes president W.R. Wagoner. Wagoner felt that Haywood County was an ideal place to build a new children’s home in the western part of the State. He turned to Brown for help in locating the perfect location.

“I had never met Dr. Wagoner until he showed up in my office that day in 1967,” the retired district attorney says. “I told him that mountain people don’t sell their property. But I knew of the perfect piece of land and I felt that if the owners knew a home for children was going to built on the property, they might consider selling.”

Dr. Wagoner went to the property, walked it over, and the next day called Brown and asked him to meet with the owners. Brown visited the Medfords. The couple said they would think about the proposition. Soon, the phone rang at Brown’s law office across from the County courthouse. The Medfords agreed to a one-year option to purchase a 91-acre tract of their property along Jones Cove Road.

Brown then committed to Wagoner to help spearhead a fundraising campaign in Haywood County as the chairman of the Founders and Builders program.

“The effort to raise the money in the 21 counties the home would serve became an effort of love from people from all walks of life,” Brown remembers. “People participated in every way imaginable. There were so many involved – only God knows all who gave.”

At that time, no one had an idea of the magnitude of support the project would garner. Brown says the grassroots support raised then has continued throughout the years.

“The mountains and the people of the west, especially Haywood County, just hug you,” Brown says. “We all believed the Home would be a blessing for children and families. And it has been. It’s like no other place.”

This year’s Western Area Conference theme is “Legacy of Love.”

The event will honor a few of those who helped make Broyhill Home a reality in the beginning. Members of the J.E. Broyhill family including his son Paul and Glenn Brown will be recognized.