MAGGIE J. Boykin-Brown knew about hard work.
She grew up on the family farm in North Carolina, toiling in the fields with siblings and other relatives.
Then when a family member needed help in an orange grove in Florida, she worked there for a time before returning to the farm.
Coming to Philadelphia in the early '50s, she left farm work behind and became a popular teacher's aide at the Frederick Douglass School where she remained for more than 30 years.
She died Tuesday of cancer. She was 82 and lived in North Philadelphia.
Maggie was a Southern gal through and through. All you had to do was sample her fried chicken, chitlins, collard greens, cornbread and fried cabbage to know that.
Her pies, cakes and biscuits were all made from scratch, of course, and she enjoyed cooking for large gatherings of family members.
And at least once a year, she returned to North Carolina to visit family and friends and renew her Southern roots.
The 144-acre Boykin family farm in Clinton, N.C., was started by her grandfather, Riley B. Boykin, in the early 20th century. The farm grew nearly every kind of produce, including corn, cotton, tobacco and peas. It is still going strong and is now divided among Riley's heirs.
Maggie was the daughter of Melissa Rich. She attended the Big Piney Grove School, a one-room school house, and graduated from the Roseboro Colored High School in Roseboro, N.C.
When two of her aunts moved to Philadelphia, she followed them.
At Frederick Douglass, 22nd and Norris streets, she was a teacher's aide and enjoyed working with teachers and children.
"She loved children," said her son, the Rev. Dr. Gregory E. Boykin, pastor of Second Unity Baptist Church in Fairmount. "She was a mother figure to those children, and they would look her up and get in touch with her long after they left school."
In 1982, she married Leon J. Brown, a chef at the Naval Shipyard. He died in the early '90s.
Perhaps it was a heritage of her farm work, but Maggie loved working in the garden at her home, where she grew both flowers and vegetables.
"She loved flowers," her son said. "She was very quiet, very unassuming. She loved to help people. She would help anybody who needed her."
Besides her son, she is survived by two daughters, M. Juanita Boykin and Wanda P. Boykin; eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Services: 11 a.m. today at New Southern Missionary Baptist Church, 21st and Jefferson streets. Friends may call at 9 a.m. Burial will be in the Boykin family cemetery in Clinton, N.C.
Contributions may be made to the Vitas Hospice Charitable Fund, Suite 100, 1740 Walton Rd., Blue Bell, PA 19422. *