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‘The Way She Spoke … I Found Her Intriguing … And I Fell in Love Immediately’



By Sym Posey | The Birmingham Times

Live: Birmingham

Married: May 22, 1995

Met: In West End High School as 9th graders when they were on the rifle team between 1986 and 1987.

“It was the summer between 9th and 10th grade because we couldn’t be on the rifle team as freshman, so we had to wait until we were sophomores,” recalled Edward. “I don’t know how I ended up being team captain, but our instructor gave me a list of potential members and as the new team captain it was my job to contact them over the summer and ask them if they wanted to be members of the team and Ava was on that list.”

The two remained friends throughout high school and wouldn’t start dating until after they graduated in 1990.

First date: At Asian style restaurant in Crestwood at Shangri-La. Both are unsure of the year.

“We didn’t date until after we had graduated high school and after Edward had gone off to the Army to Fort Hood and returned home to Birmingham. Through my brother Anthony, we reconnected,” said Ava, adding, “he (Edward) was a pure gentleman. Even more respectful and chivalrous than I remembered in high school. He picked me up in his blue Buick Skylark. I was living in an apartment complex in Crestwood. We agreed upon the place. Had a wonderful dinner and we have been connected at the hip ever since. It was a wonderful first date.”

The turn: There were several “sparks” for Ava that indicated that Edward was the one. The first came from her mother.

“When Edward and I were in high school, he would come and pick me up for rifle team practice and my mother admired him greatly. She told me then, in the 10th grade, that he was going to be my husband. She adored him because he was very respectful, very proper, very intellectual.”

The second “spark” came through her appreciation for Edward.

“He was a kind human and I just loved him because he was a great guy. I liked him because he had a great appreciation for rules, routine, and structure. I always wanted to have him in my circle, always, especially with his intellect.”

The next “spark” came from her brother.

“We (Ava and Edward) had remained friends when he (Edward) went off to Texas and had gotten engaged. I thought he had gotten married until my baby brother called me and said he’s back in town. So, I called his mom, who I had kept in contact with the whole time he was gone, and she was like ‘oh no, hold on a second,’ and she called him to the phone and that’s when we reconnected,” said Ava.

The final “spark “came after an evening out with their high school friends.

“I was ready to go, and Edward was not. At the end, some kind of way we were leaving and I was just trying to move on, but Edward made it crystal clear to me that he valued our time together. That was a priority and whatever I needed, he would support me. That was the catalyst that let me know that this was my person. God sent him to me,” said Ava.

Edward said he knew there was something special about their first phone conversation.

“That summer that I was calling people for rifle team, I didn’t know anyone of the list. What surprised me was when I called Ava, and she answered, her voice was incredibly clear. The way that she spoke was very deliberate and I found her intriguing. I really liked that, and when I met her, her voice matched her personality. She was very precise, extremely knowledgeable. The smartest person I had ever met, and I fell in love immediately,” said Edward.

The proposal: “He actually proposed in the middle of an argument,” said Ava. “We were walking up the stairs (they were in living in her apartment in Crestwood) and there was a midpoint between the two flights.” The couple had just left a gathering at a close friend of Ava’s.

“We said we were only going to stay at the party for one hour. (which Edward said), so when I said, ‘dear it’s time to go,’ she offered him some [food].”

Edward said he was trying to be polite. “She [the friend] had gone through all that trouble to cook. I heard pots banging and I didn’t just want to leave. ”

“I looked at him and I said I tell you what, I’ll let you have that,” Ava said. “And then he looked at me and said I tell you what, ‘I would like to marry you.’”

Edward and Ava Brown met at West End High School in 1986 and began dating after they graduated in 1990. The couple married in 1995. (Provided Photos)

The wedding: The Browns didn’t have a formal wedding ceremony.

“We got married at the Jefferson County Courthouse because we didn’t have the resources for a wedding at the time. “

“When we got married, we were at peace with our decision, but we were running into people, family members, classmates, and the response was the same when I introduced my husband. After we got the 100th ‘I didn’t know you were married’ we realized we needed to have a reception to celebrate our union under God, so we did.”

About a month later, the Browns booked a room at a banquet hall in downtown Birmingham. “We invited all of our family members and our friends to come out. We did have traditional wedding cakes. I did have a semi-off-white dress that was formal. We were really pleased at our choice,” said Ava.

Words of wisdom: “Talk to God and then listen. Ask for what you need that will make you a better person. Ask God to send somebody that will compliment you. Ask God to send somebody who is willing or has a good relationship with Him so that you two can grow together in Christ. If you do that, you won’t go wrong, “said Ava.

“I asked God for Ava. Perhaps one of the first actually conversations that I ever had in my life with God, before I could count myself a practicing devout Christian, I actually asked God with the greatest sincerity that I can mustard to allow me the privilege to be married to her and to give me what I needed to be the best husband to her and father to Ashley (Ava’s daughter) and God granted that prayer. She’s (Ava) everything I’ve always wanted. She’s even what I inspire to be. Her intelligence is unmatched. Her ability to care not just for me but her entire family is unparalleled. She’s the most remarkable person. “

“When I reflect on our marriage, it has been the best journey ever. I would not dream of spending it with anybody else. I know that God picked my husband for me, he was truly a Godsend, a light that I needed to keep me on the right track. He inspires me, he motivates me, he supports me. So, when I just think of him, nobody compares to you. I only have eyes for him,” said Ava.

Happily ever after: The couple has three adult daughters, Ashley Russell, Brittany McCray, and Carmen Brown and is expecting their first grandson in September.

Edward is originally from Queens, New York and currently serves as an Adult Education Instructor at J.F. Ingram State Community College in Deatsville, AL. He attended the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) where he received his Bachelor of Arts in political science and military science and Master of Arts in International Security Studies from the University of Arizona. He served a total of seven tours overseas between Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Baghdad and has been stationed all over the United States until retirement in 2021. He spent a total of 29 years in the military.

Ava is from Birmingham and an educator at I3 Academy, a tuition free public charter school in Woodlawn. She received her bachelor’s and Master’s in elementary education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

They are members of Faith Chapel in Birmingham.

“You Had Me at Hello’’ highlights married couples and the love that binds them. If you would like to be considered for a future “Hello’’ column, or know someone, please send nominations to Barnett Wright bwright@birminghamtimes.com. Include the couple’s name, contact number(s) and what makes their love story unique.

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