Tobizena Brown Williams was the eleventh child born to Mr. and Mrs. Otto H. Brown in Marshall, Texas. Although the family lived in East Texas during the Depression, Mr. and Mrs. Brown stressed the importance of education by providing their daughters with piano lessons, making sure all graduated from high school and sending all children to college. After Tobizena graduated with honors from H. B. Pemberton High School, she followed in the footsteps of her older siblings and enrolled in Bishop College. While attending Bishop, Tobizena taught private piano lessons and served as pianist for several local churches. After graduating in May 1961, Tobizena began her professional teaching career in secondary choral music at Burnett and Terrell High Schools in Terrell, Texas where the choirs received many awards and accolades. She was especially proud of being the director of the 1963 Grand Prize Winners of the National Quartet Competition, New Farmers of America Convention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Mrs. Williams and her family moved to Dallas in 1968 where she began teaching choral music with the Dallas ISD. She also began graduate studies at North Texas State University (University of North Texas) earning a Masters of Music Education in 1971. She credited Dr. David McGuire as being a great inspiration for her success as a music educator.
In 1985, Mrs. Williams joined the Dallas ISD’s Basic Skills Core Piano Program. She initiated the BSC Core Piano Program at Zaragoza Elementary School where the Zaragoza Keyboarders were requested to perform throughout the city and the state of Texas. Under the direction of Mrs. Williams, the East Dallas Interlochen Summer Piano Program was created where students were immersed daily in musical studies using theory, computers, performance and educational excursions to develop and enhance their skills.
Tobizena served on many committees as a clinician for piano workshops, as well as experiencing many firsts in her career. Among the recognitions were the first Dallas ISD teacher to present and conduct a Keyboard Orchestra at the 1997 Texas Music Educators Association; the first Dallas ISD teacher and first African American to direct an ensemble of ten baby grand pianos at the Texas Music Teachers Association; and the first African American who served on the Board of the Texas Music Teachers Association. Her memberships and affiliations included Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Texas Music Educators, Group Piano Association, National Association of Negro Musicians, Sigma Alpha Iota Music Sorority, and Delta Kappa Gamma Society.
Tobizena cherished the unconditional love and support from her late husband of fifty-four years, Johnny Ray Sr, daughters, Yolonda and Yvette, son and daughter-in-law Johnny, Jr. & Vanessa, and granddaughter Taylor. She is survived by her remaining sibling, Bobbie Jean Brown Johns, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, godchildren, extended family, friends and students. For over 20 years, she served faithfully as the pianist and choir director of her home church, Mt. Sinai Baptist Church and her dearly loved her church family.
Tobizena was preceded in death by her parents, Lily and Otto Brown Sr., and siblings Dorothy Oveda Brown, Willie DeLoach Beavers, Nathan Hochwald Brown, Amos Charleston Brown (sunset 7/23/19), Otto Hunt Brown, Jr., Roscoe Vernon Brown, Ollie Winfield Brown, and Annie Laura Brown Bowie.
Date: Friday, August 2, 2019
Time: 1:00 pm - 8:00 pm
WAKE: 8-9PM, Friday, August 2, 2019
Black and Clark Funeral Home Chapel
2517 E. Illinois Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75216
Date: Saturday, August 3, 2019
Time: 11:00 am
Mt Sinai Baptist Church