Donor Stories

Erma Metz Brown – A Place to Call Home Forever

For a single magical year, a young sports-minded California woman taught second grade at Punahou – falling in love with the children, the people, the flowers, the sports program and the man she would soon marry.
It was 1946 – the first teaching job for Erma Metz, later Erma Metz Brown – and those experiences would last a lifetime, bonding her forever with Hawai'i and with the school that became her spiritual home.

Erma's affection for Punahou began from the first moments of the orientation program for new teachers. Years later she sent a note to a friend, reflecting on those happy events, including the kindness of Eleanore Atherton, who had welcomed the young teacher with a white orchid plant.
"What a thrill," wrote Erma. "My first orchid!"

Though Erma returned to California the next year to continue her teaching career far from Hawai'i, Punahou remained in her heart. Even the lauhala coaster she wove during orientation was displayed in a special place in her Long Beach home. To honor their love of Hawai'i and Punahou, the Browns kept in touch with old friends, returned often, and followed with intense interest both the girls athletics program and her former second-graders, the Class of 1957.

Erma later told Barb Young '67 Morgan, former senior director of legacy planning at Punahou, about her delight in the work of Na Wahine Pa'ani o Punahou in supporting girls sports. The organization's spectacular flower booth at Carnival each year, and that first orchid gift, even served as inspirations for her own California garden that included an elaborate backyard greenhouse filled with colorful orchids.

Erma made a number of large gifts to Punahou, supporting construction of the Omidyar K – 1 Neighborhood and Case Middle School, among other projects. In 2006, she established an endowed fund in her own name – the Erma Metz Brown Girls Athletics Fund – that will support the School in perpetuity, encouraging girls to excel in athletics just as she had done, years earlier, as an outstanding student athlete at the University of Southern California.

Sports and athletics had given Erma a long and healthy life, and she wanted to provide the same opportunities for Punahou's young women by supporting their programs and the School's athletics. As part of that support, Erma bought a sunshine yellow golf cart in 2011 – appropriately named "Erma" – so that members of the Athletics Department could more quickly traverse Punahou's sprawling campus.

An active life was always important to her, and even into her 90s she was a regular on the pathways around Long Beach – pedaling her bicycle around the neighborhood at 6 each morning, or piloting the olive green '65 Mustang she bought brand-new and kept her whole life.

When she passed away in December of 2013 at the age of 93, Erma had made certain that her assistance to girls athletics at Punahou would continue. Through her estate plan, Erma Metz Brown contributed a total of $1.39 million to her endowed fund as part of her legacy – a caring teacher's love affair with the home of her heart.