• Abraham Brown
  • 85 years old
  • Lived in Philadelphia
  • A farmer in Jamaica, he excelled in growing vegetables here

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Abraham Emanuel Brown excelled at gardening.

“He knew how to make things grow and thrive, whether it was plants, lawns, or anything nature-related,” said his granddaughter Latoya Binns. His flowers were all over his house.

“He had a special touch that he couldn’t explain. But his food tasted better. His callaloo was known to be the sweetest," his granddaughter said.

Callaloo is a dark, leafy vegetable that looks like collard greens but has a sweeter taste. People called him “the Callaloo Man.”

Mr. Brown, 85, of the West Oak Lane section of the city, died Sunday, May 3, from COVID-19 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

He grew up on a rice farm in St. Catherine, Jamaica, where he was born in 1934, the youngest of six children of Solomon and Margaret Graham Brown.

Known to his family as “Bram,” he left school in the ninth grade to work on the farm. In 1962, he married his wife, Roslyn Mayhew Brown.

In Jamaica, he worked sunup to sundown both at his farm and as a supervisor at Lindstead Market.

Seeking better opportunities, Mr. Brown came to Philadelphia in 1990. He first found work as a laborer and later as a security guard. He and his wife joined the Willow Grove Seventh-day Adventist Church.

He helped neighbors with their gardens and cut lawns and shoveled snow without being asked, the family said.

And he loved gathering his large family of seven children together for prayers and to treat them to his legendary storytelling.

“He always wanted us to go above where he was in life,” said daughter Elaine. “He pushed us to go to school.”

Binns said Mr. Brown also loved dressing well.

“He liked things of a good quality, in clothing, shoes, furniture, and good leather. Sometimes he would buy [name] brands and not know what they meant. He just saw their quality,” she said.

In addition to his wife, daughter, and granddaughter, Mr. Brown is survived by daughters Yvonne, Norma, and Marcelene; sons Hector, Hopeton, and Dwight; eight other grandchildren; three great-grandchildren; and many other relatives.

A private service was held Wednesday, May 20.

— Valerie Russ, vruss@inquirer.com