Published: July 1, 2020
Remembering Louise Brown
Along with other challenges 2020 has brought us, we are mourning the loss of residents who were passionate about Lawrence County and helped make it a better place to live.
On May 25 we lost Louise Riddle Passarella Brown, a Loretto native who devoted her life to her family, business, and community. Since she ran a family business that provided a crucial service to the community, her attention was focused on all three, and everyone benefited.
Ms. Louise and her husband Ralph Passarella purchased Loretto Telephone Company in 1946. The business expanded and their family grew with the addition of Thomas, Nick, Dan, Sam, A.J., Desda and Tanya. Mr. Passarella passed away in 1969, leaving her the company and family to run.
She married Sayles Brown in 1974, adding stepchildren Sayles III, Matt, Greg and Wes to the family. She continued to lead Loretto Telephone through times of tremendous change, and she is recognized as a telecommunications pioneer.
Tennessee’s Homecoming in 1986 inspired her to found the Loretto Lift-Up Committee. There is a long list of improvements that group brought to the city, including markers designating historic homes, the M.H. Weathers park and gazebo, Victorian lamp posts and many more. The group continues to sponsor Oktoberfest, which honors Loretto’s German heritage. The week-long celebration included “Louise Brown Day” in 2016.
Today you can visit the Ralph J. Passarella Museum in downtown Loretto to see a great selection of pieces that tell Lawrence County’s story. This awesome collection was yet another of Ms. Louise’s projects.
I can’t imagine the challenges Ms. Louise faced during her 95 years (72 at the helm of Loretto Telephone), but she met them all with determination and grace. She was, and remains, an inspiration and a role model.
Thank you, Ms. Louise, for all you gave Lawrence County.