MORRIS COUNTY — The late state Senator Leanna Brown and her friend and colleague, the late Morris County Freeholder Pat Maynard, were honored today with Arbor Day tree plantings and a ceremony.
The ceremony included the placement of special Turn the Towns Teal ovarian cancer ribbons on the trees planted in their honor at Morris County’s Frelinghuysen Arboretum in Morris Township.
The Morris County Advisory Committee on Women, in partnership with the Morris County Board of Freeholders and Morris County Park Commission, sponsored the event, which highlighted Leanna Brown and Pat Maynard’s important roles as leaders.
It focused on their groundbreaking roles as two of the first politically prominent women in county and state government.
“Most of you who are here today knew Pat and Leanna well. You are family, friends, and colleagues. You know the important work they did to make our county, state, and nation a better place to live and raise our families,” said Morris County Freeholder Kathy DeFillippo, who is the county governing board liaison to the Women’s Committee.
“You know they were dynamic women who made their way through a male-dominated world and created a path for Morris County women who have followed in their footsteps … who encouraged so many of us to reach new heights — in government, politics, education, business, or life in general,” she said.
A host of political dignitaries attended the event, as did friends of the two long-time Morris County leaders and friends who died with months of each other in late 2016 and early 2017.
Bill Brown, Leanna Brown’s son, attended, as did Jane MacNeil, president of Turn the Towns Teal, an organization that promotes ovarian cancer awareness.
MacNeil and Carol Harper of the Women’s Advisory Committee spoke about the lives of Maynard and Brown. Park Commission Director Dave Helmer spoke about the significance and history of Arbor Day, and the relevance of the memorial tree plantings for two women who long supported the county park system.
Flowering Dogwoods were planted by the Park Commission for Brown and Maynard at the edge of the great lawn near the Frelinghuysen Mansion. The trees were selected specially by the Park Commission to ensure they had botanical significance and fit properly into the treescape.
Each tree carries a special plaque, one bearing Leanna’s name and the other carrying Pat’s name. They also each carry a Turn The Town’s Teal ribbon to honor those, like Pat, who passed due to ovarian cancer, and her friend Leanna, who stood with her during that battle.
In addition, the Seeds of Change Award was presented by the Women’s Advisory Committee to Lila Berstein of Mendham Township. The award celebrates women like Leanna Brown and Pat Maynard, who had groundbreaking roles for women in Morris County.
In 1972, Leanna Brown became the first woman elected as a Morris County Freeholder, and the second women to serve in that capacity (Margaret D. Baker was appointed in 1932 to fill an unexpired term).
Following Eileen Carey McCoy in 1975, Pat Maynard in 1978 was the third woman to win election to the freeholder board. She was followed in 1982 by Carol Rufener, who attended the event and served with Pat Maynard.
Following their freeholder terms, Leanna Brown and Pat Maynard went on to serve in many other important capacities. Pat Maynard worked for the Port Authority and volunteered in many areas for Morris County. She was an integral force in the creation of Morris County’s September 11th Memorial.
Leanna Brown was the first Republican women to serve in the New Jersey State Senate. She was a driving force behind the creation of the Morris County Advisory Committee on Women, which sponsored the Arbor Day event.