Ms. Sherry Renee Gray Browning, 58, of Cumming, GA died peacefully in her sleep on October 31, 2023. Sherry was born May 15, 1965, in Copperhill Tennessee and grew up in Blue Ridge, Georgia, where she was a member of First Baptist Church of Blue Ridge. She was a gifted musician and English teacher throughout her life. In high school she was a top student, and was a member of general chorus and advanced chorus. She played saxophone and was section leader in jazz, concert, and marching band. She earned countless honors in her band years.
An honor graduate of Fannin County High School, she earned bachelors and master’s degrees from North Georgia College in Dahlonega, GA. While attending graduate school, she worked in advertising at The Gainesville Times. She then spent her career focused on her passion: teaching English to young people at Dawson County High School, in Dawsonville, GA, where she also was named Teacher of the Year. The received that honor at Dawson High in 1999 and the Dawson County-wide honor in 2000. In both high school and college, she was the kind of person who fostered real friendships. Many of those friends remained close till the end of her life.
Her former students have shared this week that she truly cared about them as human beings, not just as students. They praise her for incorporating analysis of modern song lyrics into her teaching of English, studying the lyrics of Don McLean’s “Bye, Bye Miss American Pie” alongside Shakespeare, the Canterbury Tales, and the English romantic period poets. They also say she introduced them to the beautiful voice of Norah Jones, and used English to teach them not just about language, but about life. Many students have shared that she was a bulwark and a steadying influence in their lives when they were going through difficult experiences outside of the classroom. In her teaching years she served as English Dept. chair for many years, as well as heading up yearbook staff and being an academic coach.
After retirement, Sherry was published in the book Unstoppable, in a chapter called “Chasing Butterflies”. She loved attending events and signing the book. . After facing many health setbacks and moving to assisted living at the Oaks at Hampton, she became the Wordsmith in Residence there, assisting the staff and her fellow residents with proofreading and writing. She organized and led a book club for residents, and collaborated with a fellow resident who was a retired minister to plan the July 4 ecumenical service at the facility. She was the youngest resident there and the delight of her elder peers.
Sherry was preceded in death by her grandparents Homer and Sarah Gray, and Baxter and Edith Deyton; her father, William Gray; and her beloved uncle and aunt, Dr. John and Linda Webb. She is survived by her mother, Gennie Elliott; her siblings and their spouses, Shannon (Tina) Gray, Sheree (Eric) Gibson, and Michael (David Pilgrim) Gray; her cousins Betsy (Chris) Hofflin and Paul (Collette) Nicholson; and nieces and nephews Brandon Gibson, Alicia Gibson, and Jacob Gray.
The family will receive friends from 12 to 2 on Friday, November 3, with the funeral being at 2 in the Cochran Funeral home chapel. Music provided by Haley Sue Williams and Brian Huffman. Eulogies by her close circle of friends. Interment will take place afterward at Chastain Memorial Park. The family will accept flowers, but they also encourage gifts to charity in her name, especially to education related charities.
Cochran Funeral Home is honored to serve the family of Sherry Browning. Send condolences and sign the guest register online at www.cochranfuneralhomes.com