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  • Writer's pictureMyla van Lynde

A Tribute to Charlotte Brownlee '85

Caroline Coors '24


Charlotte Brownlee ‘85, a cherished faculty member at Cate School, will soon be departing, leaving behind an impactful legacy on the community. Kate Parker ‘85 remarks, “From senior year trips to the beach in my red 1965 VW beetle to Franklin Trail hikes in my fifties, from friendship to work, through every up and down imaginable, my life has been shaped by meeting the already wise and charming Charlotte when I arrived as a clueless new sophomore at Cate High.”

Ms. Brownlee met Ms. Parker when they were both part of Cate’s first class of girls. Her journey at Cate came full circle when her former English teacher, Gabby Edwards, reached out to her about a position in the Advancement Office. She happily returned to the place she once called home. She explains that despite Cate’s constantly changing nature, one place that she recalls has always felt the same is the Johnson Library. As a Cate student then and assistant head of school now, the JL holds a special place in her heart. It serves as a reminder of her own memories as a student and it fills her with the sense of comforting nostalgia of the times she spent there with friends. She says, “You can feel like history when you walk into the room. It is really a place like no other on campus.”

Upon her return to Cate, Ms. Brownlee started in the Advancement Office, but her passion for community and her natural talent for connecting with others led her to her current role in the Admission Office, where she now plays a key part in shaping the future classes of Cate.

In addition to her role in the Admission Office, she has impacted many students' lives through her role as an advisor and dorm parent in Bothin Pars. Shannon Murray ‘24 says, “Ms. Brownlee is exactly the kind of person you want as a dorm parent, but more importantly the kind of person I seek as a friend. She is always there for hugs, Bananagrams during study hours when you need a break, baking scones on a weekend night, and for late night snack runs to Carp… We all look up to her because of these traits and how she makes every member of Bothin-Pars feel seen, appreciated, and understood… Bothin-Pars will miss having Ms. Brownlee as a dorm parent, a friend, a mentor, and a role model. Ms. Brownlee, all of Bothin-Pars loves you beyond comprehension. Expect some FaceTime calls into the common room next year when a Bananagram game becomes something we know you wouldn’t want to miss.”

When reflecting on her time at Cate, Ms. Brownlee fondly recalls the 2021 Lip Sync Battle in the theater as one of her favorite memories. She remembers that it was so fun to see the boys of ‘25 House dance to Carly Rae Japsen without a care in the world. For Ms. Brownlee, that memory marked when Cate started to feel normal again after the distance that COVID created. She strived even during the times of social distancing to make each student feel seen and part of the Cate community. Ada Hansen ‘24 remarks, “I will miss the cheerful “People!” greeting as we would walk through the door for advisory. Ms. Brownlee always knew how to light up a room and make you feel at home.”

Ms. Brownlee's departure will undoubtedly leave a void in the Cate community. Her kind and loving presence has touched the lives of many students, faculty, and staff. Abby Oke ‘24, a member of Ms. Brownlee’s advisory, says, “You’ll never meet a woman like Ms. Brownlee, honestly. She has been amazing to me and I’ll miss her so much. It’s hard to see her go, but I know she is doing the best for her own journey and she will excel anywhere and everywhere she goes.”

As Ms. Brownlee says goodbye to Cate, she embarks on a well deserved period of travel. She is planning on visiting Harry and Kobby in Maine to watch their soccer matches, exploring New York in the winter, and seeing where spring takes her. She will be dearly missed, and her contributions to Cate will be remembered fondly. As she starts her new chapter in life, it is clear that she will continue to inspire and create a lasting legacy wherever she goes.



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