Remembering a Good Friend: Dr Maconda Brown O'Connor

Neighborhood Centers – indeed, all of Houston – lost a valued and cherished friend with the passing Saturday morning of Dr. Maconda Brown O’Connor.

Angela Blanchard remembers her fondly:

Maconda Brown O’Connor was my friend. For almost 25 years she encouraged me and the work of Neighborhood Centers. Through ups and downs, triumphs and trials. Maconda could handle the truth better than most people. With grace.

Maconda was also a friend to thousands upon thousands of people whom she never met. People who will never know her name except to read it on a plaque or etched into a wall. But if they do see it, it is likely to be in a place of refuge, help and hope. They are the beneficiaries of a tender, caring, pragmatic woman who loved and nurtured the best in all of us. 

We like to talk about Houston as a place of opportunity for everyone willing to work hard. We say it doesn’t matter if your name is Brown or Baker, Khan or Garcia – you can make it here. A few people can say they actually built the city that way. Maconda is one of them. 

For Maconda, helping was not complicated. Although she was not short on intelligence – she was very sharp indeed when it came to knowing who would do the work and who would not – her approach to caring for the people of the city was simple. Give people a chance. Especially children. 

A while back Maconda told me a story. When she was in school she had to take home economics. One of her assignments was to make a blouse. Her pattern required pin tucks on both sides of the front. When she finished, her mother pointed out that the tucks went the wrong way on one side of the blouse. “You will never be able to wear this,” her mother said. Maconda – not wanting the work to go to waste – wore it anyway. No one noticed. She said, “That’s when I realized what we do doesn’t have to be perfect. It was good enough. Do good. It will be enough.”