Meadville Tribune

December 11, 2012

Titusville icon Billie Brown dies; officials and friends share thoughts

By Tom Boyle
Meadville Tribune

TITUSVILLE — One of Titusville’s most well-known citizens has died.

Billie L. LaBolle Brown, former executive director of Titusville Housing Authority, died on Sunday afternoon at Hamot Medical Center in Erie, where she had been a patient for a short amount of time.

Terry Kerr, housing authority chairman, commented, “I worked with her for the last several years. I always appreciated her level of professionalism and the fact that she did a great job as the housing director.”

Kerr noted that Brown always made herself available to those serving on the authority.

Ironically, Brown’s long career as housing director was to come to a end on Jan. 2, when her retirement was to officially take effect after four decades of service. Long-time authority employee Alexa Vroman was recently chosen to take over Brown’s job. Vroman had previously served as deputy director of the authority.

“I’m saddened that it ended this way,” Kerr said. “She was set to retire, but wasn’t able to enjoy that.”

During her long tenure as housing director, Brown dealt with dozens of local officials, along with ordinary people from all walks of life.

“I can’t think of a person who worked as much as she did,” Kerr said. “She did a lot for the community. It will be sad not to have her around.”

“I’m so sorry. She was a wonderful woman. She will really be missed,” housing authority member Barb Ives said.

Housing authority member Steve Coleman said, “She was a very committed person. She was recognized and appreciated in the local community and was held in high regard by those in the housing community.”

Coleman praised Brown for all her years in the helm of the authority.

“She was passionate about what she did,” he said.

Coleman noted that a retirement party for Brown had been delayed because of her health concerns.

City Manager Larry Manross commented, “She did a fantastic job as housing director”; and Titusville Mayor Esther Smith said, “She was the hardest working woman I have ever known. One thing I always enjoyed about her was that if you asked her anything she would be frank and upfront with you.”

Smith said he enjoyed the relationship she had with Brown. “She was always a super person. She is going to be greatly missed,” Smith said.

“This community has a huge appreciation for everything that Billie Brown did for Titusville,” City councilman Keith Bromley said. “Obviously, she will be greatly missed. My prayers are with her and her family.”

Titusville Housing Authority was established in 1968 to create good affordable units with housing assistance for low-income residents of Titusville and the surrounding area of Crawford County.

The authority’s first public housing units were 60 family units in 1971, comprised of two-story townhouses at three locations. In 1980 the Billie Brown Building was built on Water Street through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA), which provides housing assistance for elderly age 62 and up as well as for disabled adults.

Rent is subsidized based on family income. Kitchen appliances are furnished and paid for by the authority.