Memorial Service for 1st Black Naval Academy Grad

D.C. native died last month

By BRIAN WITTE
|  Wednesday, Jun 6, 2012  |  Updated 10:05 PM EDT
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Memorial Service for 1st Black Naval Academy Grad

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A memorial service for the first black graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy drew about 200 people to the academy's chapel after the interment of his ashes in a columbarium on school grounds.

Retired Lt. Cmdr. Wesley Brown, who died last month at 85, was memorialized Wednesday as a man who blazed a courageous path to graduate in 1949. He was commissioned in the Navy Civil Engineer Corps.

Those gathered recalled a man who endured poor treatment by classmates with resilience and grace, decades before the civil rights movement. He lived alone at the academy so he wouldn't have to burden roommates with residing with the school's only black student.

Retired astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, NASA's first black administrator, said Brown paved the way for him and many others.

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