Mercer University Mourns the Loss of Alumna, Former Trustee Withers


MCDONOUGH, Ga. – Mercer University alumna and former trustee Sarah Brown Withers died early Monday at the age of 82.

Withers was born in Atlanta on Aug. 21, 1931, to the late Hugh Curtis and Florence Watson Brown. She earned her Bachelor of Arts, with a major in Christianity and minors in English and music, from Mercer's College of Liberal Arts in 1952. She went on to earn her Master of Education from Valdosta State University and enjoy a distinguished 31-year career as an educator, retiring in 1995. Withers was later awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Mercer in 2002.

She met her late husband, the Rev. Harold B. Withers, at Mercer. He proposed to her in Tattnall Square Park, and the two were married in 1952. The couple had four children – Joy Withers Brown, Kay Withers Cook, James David Withers and John Daniel Withers – each of whom attended Mercer and sent several of their children to the University.

A donor and member of the Alumni Association for over five decades, Withers was Atlanta area chairwoman from 1983-1984. She served on the Board of Trustees from 1983-1987 and on the President's Council from 1990-1995. A long-time member of the President's Club, she established the Sarah Brown Withers Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2000 to assist music majors. She was given the Tift College Distinguished Service Award in 1999 and the Louie D. Newton Award for Service to the University in 2001.

Aside from her service to Mercer, she was a trustee of the Georgia Baptist Children's Home, board member of the Georgia Women's Missionary Union and president of the American Association of University Women. She was also active with the Baptist Ministers' Wives of Georgia, the Georgia Association of Educators and the Civic Music Club. She also held positions of leadership in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia, including serving on the Coordinating Council from 1996 to 2000. Additionally, she was an active member of First Baptist Church of Morrow, where she taught Sunday School and served as the first female chair of deacons.

Her funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church of Morrow, 1647 Lake Harbin Road in Morrow. The family will receive friends from 9-11 a.m. at the church. Cannon Cleveland Funeral Directors is in charge of arrangements.

The family will also receive friends on Thursday, Nov. 21, from 9:30-10:45 a.m. at Music Funeral Home, 1503 Tebeau Street, in Waycross, Ga. A graveside service will follow at 11 a.m. at Oakland Cemetery in Waycross.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Service First or the Townsend School of Music at Mercer University, 1400 Coleman Ave., Macon, GA 31207.

Kyle Sears
Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​