Rio Vista, Weatherford grieving teacher who planned to retire in December

After teaching for more than 20 years in the small Rio Vista school district, Beverly J. Brown had touched many lives and was well-known in the community.

That's why her death Monday has shaken the town, Chris Nichols, the elementary school principal, said Tuesday.

About 7:20 a.m. Monday, as Mrs. Brown was on her way to work, her pickup and a car collided head-on on Texas 171 four miles north of Cresson, according to trooper Larry Clint Ferguson of the Texas Department of Public Safety.

The car's driver, Houston G. Earnest, 20, of Mineral Wells, was listed in fair condition Tuesday at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth. He had broken bones and internal injuries, Ferguson said.

The wreck was still under investigation Tuesday, Ferguson said, but a preliminary report found that Earnest's northbound car crossed into the path of Mrs. Brown's southbound pickup, the trooper said.

Mrs. Brown, 57, commuted 48 miles each way from her home in Weatherford to teach first grade at the Johnson County school, Nichols said.

Fellow teachers worried about her making such a long commute every day, but she always tried to assure them that she would be OK, Nichols said.

The district has about 300 children, from kindergarten through 12th grade, on three campuses. "They all know who she is," Nichols said.

She was scheduled to retire in December. "She was looking forward to being at home with her grandkids," he said.

Grief counselors were available Monday and Tuesday for students, he said.

Mrs. Brown's son, Andy Brown, 34, of Weatherford, said the family often meets his mother's former students.

"So many times, we'd go to a football game and people would come up and say, 'Your mom taught me in the first grade,' and then they would thank her," he said.

Mrs. Brown often stayed after school to tutor students, Andy Brown said. It did not matter whether they were adults or children. All they had to do was ask, he said.

Other survivors include her husband, Paul Brown; son James Brown of Weatherford; daughters Tamra Lewis of Granbury and Jennifer Todd of Weatherford; and three grandchildren.

Staff writer Mitch Mitchell contributed to this report.

Bill Miller, 817-390-7684

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram