Mr. Aubry Noel Brent was born June 14, 1931 in Yazoo City, MS to the late Oubrey Brent and Emily Davis Brent Ball. He was the oldest child with two brothers and a sister. They all loved each other dearly, and the three brothers doted and spoiled their sister, the late Mrs. Ann Rita Brent Corprew.
Aubry came from a strong lineage, as his mother was the gem of his family. His mother, Emily, was a pioneer during an era where it was rare and even risky for a black woman to advocate for equality for blacks, women and be an established entrepreneur. From a young age, Aubry and his mother had a remarkable bond, and he always made her proud.
At an early age, it was clear that he had the heart of gold and unlimited ambition. He was proactive in helping his mom provide for him and his younger siblings, so he secured several jobs. He began selling potato pies all over Yazoo City, especially at the Saw Mill and the Afro Hospital; he helped Mr. Luis paint; he even worked inside his mother’s café.
He had two maternal aunts, the late Mrs. Mamie Gerald and the late Mrs. Linnie B. Willis, who adored him and who he loved and respected very much. Aubry had a special connection with Aunt Mamie, as he worked with her occasionally in the store she owned.
Aubry married Catherine Jefferson Brent in 1948, and they were married over 72 years. To their union two lovely children were born: Aubry Brent Jr. and Wanda Brent Thomas. His son Aubry preceded him in death. He had a second son, Larry Willis, who was always special to him and all the family.
Aubry had a natural gift for helping other reach their full potential, and he did that successfully as a lifelong educator. His wife was also an exceptional teacher and a blessing of a wife, as she encouraged him to further his studies in education.
After graduating from Yazoo City High School, he attended Alcorn for one year. He then graduated from Jackson State College with a B.S., Master’s and a Specialist in education and school administration.
He started his career with his wife by his side, as they were co-teachers in a classroom at Shipp School. They ensured the children were well educated, and it was equally important to Aubry that the children also have enrichment activities outside of the curriculum, which is why he told his wife Catherine that “they must get them a ball so they have something else to do.” That was foreshadowing how Aubry’s career and positive influence on children would extend far beyond the classroom. The next several years of his career were in Yazoo County, where he taught science at Gibbs and served as principal for two schools: Cedar Falls and Linwood. His teachers and students all loved and cherished Mr. Brent.
It is amazing how Mr. Brent’s elementary students had a lifelong relationship with him and Mrs. Brent, as they called and visited the Brent’s often over the years, up until their last days. The desire for their former students to maintain a relationship speaks to how much they valued, respected and admired Mr. and Mrs. Brent. During Aubry’s very last days, his former students were calling regularly to ask how he was doing. They prayed with him, reminisced, and lifted him up with their words.
Mr. Brent was also loved and respected by his teachers. Their friendship continued for years, even after Aubry retired. Some of the teachers often laughed about how stern he was even with the staff; they knew it was important to him that students havean environment to learn, which meant having good teachers with good lesson plans and a clean school environment. Mr. Brent was an outstanding educator who always advocated for the needs of the school based on what was necessary for students and teachers. Mr. Brent was a teacher, coach, and a principal, but to many, he was a superhero. Mr. Brent’s love for his students was so genuine, and he was always supporting and rooting for them. He truly loved to see his students become successful in life.
Mr. Brent’s golden heart and giving nature helped so many, including many residents of Yazoo City. He loved to help people who were most needy. His family often joked and said he was like the local bank with people in the community who would knock on his door and ask for a loan. It was hard for him to say no.
He was active in the local Yazoo community. He was one of the founders for the 21 Club that was established many years ago to assist young people with scholarships and to make thecommunity a better place. Aubry served on several localcommunity boards. He was very active in politics especially during the time his son, the late Aubry Brent Jr., was seeking office and during all his re-elections. Aubry was always giving his late son advice regarding the needs of the city.
Aubry joined Mt. Vernon Baptist Church where he had been aboard trustee member.
Aubry Brent was truly the head of his family. He was like the Godfather. We all went to him for advice and financial support when needed; he always knew what to say or what to do. As he often said, he “married the prettiest girl in Yazoo City.” They were married for 72 years. After Catherine’s death, Aubry was heartbroken. He never left the house again unless he had a medical appointment. He was adored by his granddaughters: Patrice who was his daily caretaker for the last eight months;Catherine, who has been solid as a rock in supporting her grandparents throughout their lives; Jamila who he adored and enjoyed their long conversations over the years; his grandson, Juan, who as a child spent every summer with his grandparents and who made him laugh during their visits as adults. He also raised his great – grandchild, Aubry. He was supportive to his in-laws and a good friend to all.
The community has lost a legend, a pillar and a man who was the heart of Yazoo City. He had a long, productive life. He blessed to have had 25 years in retirement. He made this world a better place, and he will be missed and forever loved.
Survivors include his wonderful and loving daughter Wanda Thomas (Larry) of Sugar Grove, IL and Larry Willis (Evelyn) of Rex, GA; four grandchildren, Juan Thomas (Angie) of Aurora, IL, Patrice Tribble of Aurora, IL, Catherine Johnson (Edward) of Yazoo City and Jamila Thomas of Sugar Grove, IL; six lovable great-grandchildren: Darryl Walker, Keena Walker, Aubry Marcell Brent (to whom she devoted her post-retirementlife to raising), Jonathan Walker, Amia Dortch and Aydin Rodriguez Thomas; three great-great grandchildren: Samuel’ Rey Chairez, Adrianna Brandon and Emmanuel Julius Chairez; one brother, Robert Brent (Odell); special cousins: Mae Harris (Ed), and Minnie Pate; a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and many very close friends. He was preceded in death by his sister, Ann Rita Brent Corprew; his brother, King Ball Jr.; his lovely daughter-in-law, Alma Collins Brent; his beautiful, exceptionally devoted and loving wife, Catherine Jefferson Brent; and his firstborn child and his namesake, Aubry Brent, Jr.