Melva Brooks Jimerson, a leader of church women and an activist for peace and social justice, passed away peacefully at a nursing home in Washington, DC on July 5. She will be remembered by those who knew her as a kind and generous person with a warm smile, an open heart, and a natural modesty that belied her talents and accomplishments.
Born in Beaver Falls, PA, as one of three children of J. Douglas and Mildred (Kensley) Brooks, she was a high school valedictorian and earned a bachelor’s degree in Architecture at Carnegie Institute of Technology (now Carnegie-Mellon University). At a time when few women entered the field of architecture, she designed an airport terminal for a small community airport, a World War II community memorial, and an office building for her father’s crane and excavating company.
In September 1947 she married Norman C. “Jim” Jimerson, who earned a divinity degree and held a variety of positions, including work as minister of a small community church in Hudson, NH, a Federal reformatory chaplain in Virginia, a civil rights negotiator in Alabama, and minister of the First Baptist Church of Hyannis, MA (1970-78). Melva considered raising five children as her best and most important work in life. As the children matured, she later took jobs outside the home as a junior high art teacher, co-director (with her husband) of Plowshare Peace Center in Roanoke, VA, Capitol Hill legislative liaison for the Church of the Brethren in Washington, DC, and a staff member of the U.S.-Nicaragua Friendship office. She served as Massachusetts president and national vice president of Church Women United, board member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Cape Cod, and board member of several peace and social justice organizations. She was a talented violinist and a dedicated member of church choirs.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Rev. Norman C. Jimerson, and her sister, Eileen (Brooks) Poister. She is survived by her brother, Douglas K. Brooks (wife Marian); her five children: Mark (wife Liz Febres-Jimerson), Susan, Paul, Ann (Laurence Klein), and Randall (Joyce); eight grandchildren: Laura Jimerson (Frédéric Launoy), Beth Jimerson, Emma Jimerson. Maria Klein, Vanya Klein, Ruthy López, Efrain López, and Ismael López; and one great-grandson, Gregory Launoy-Jimerson.
A memorial service will be held at 11 am on Saturday, July 11th at the First Baptist Church, 486 Main Street, Hyannis, MA 02601.
In lieu of flowers memorial donations may be made to Church Women United (http://www.churchwomen.org/index.php/give/), or CrossPoint Clinical Services of West Springfield, MA (www.crosspointclinical.org).