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Biographies of C. Aubrey and Florence C. Hearn

C. A. & F. C. Hearn

C. Aubrey Hearn (1907-1991)

Charles Aubrey Hearn was born on April 6, 1907, in Albertville, AL, the oldest of eight children born to Charles L. Hearn and Della Hubbard Hearn. Aubrey went to high school in Albertville, then attended Howard College (now Samford U.) in Birmingham. His college roommate, Allen Conner, introduced Aubrey to his sister Florence, who was attending Shorter College. After graduation, Aubrey taught high school in Atalla, AL until 1929, then decided to enter law school. After a year in Yale Law School, he transferred to Vanderbilt Law School in Nashville, TN. While attending Vanderbilt he worked half time in the Baptist Young People's Union (BYPU) Department of the Southern Baptist Sunday School Board. Following his 1932 graduation from law school he was admitted to the Tennessee Bar, but decided to continue his work with the Sunday School Board. As further preparation for his now-recognized life work, he earned an M.A. in English (1933) from Vanderbilt. Although Aubrey never formally practiced law, in 1956 the Atlanta Law School awarded him an honorary LLD (Doctor of Laws) degree.

After a long courtship (an economic necessity), Florence Rebecca Conner became Mrs. C. Aubrey Hearn, on September 1, 1933. Fifty years later, their 6 grown children and 13 grandchildren helped celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. The fourteenth grandchild would not be born until January of 1991.

For 36 years Aubrey held various editorial positions with the Sunday School Board. In the early years he traveled extensively over much of the U.S. to present training courses and give talks. He was author of several books on alcohol and smoking, and of many articles in Baptist and other publications.

When he retired from the Sunday School Board in 1966, he became a broker of church bonds. Nearing his 84th birthday, Aubrey was still a leading salesman with Security Church Finance (of Houston, TX) at the time of his death in 1991.

Aubrey was a man with many hobbies, principally traveling, collecting, and reading: He traveled extensively in Europe, the Holy Land, and South America, leading tour groups to most of these destinations, and managing to take his six children with him on at least one major trip each. (Florence sometimes accompanied him, more often staying home to care for the rest of the family.) He collected antique oil lamps (over 200 lamps from 75 countries), walking canes, author-autographed books, stamps, and coins, among other special interest items. He read many, many books, and loved to grow flowers–many of which he gave to friends.

Florence Rebecca Conner Hearn (1908-1995)

Florence Conner was born in Tuskegee, AL, on July 21, 1908, the third child and only daughter of Thomas Ganaway Conner and Lena Allen Conner. (Named for her grandmother Florence Rebecca Archer Allen, she added the "Rebecca" to her own name shortly before graduating from Andalusia High School in 1925.) As the only girl, Florence had to put up with her brothers’ teasing (once they threw her doll on top of the house), but they also let her play with them. She loved these brothers dearly, and more than once drove hundreds of miles alone to visit them, when she herself was past eighty.

Florence first took piano lessons when she was ten years old, taught by her mother’s sister, Lily Allen. After further studies, she entered Shorter College and specialized in Piano, Pipe Organ, and Harmony. After graduating in 1930 she taught piano in Alabama public schools, until shortly before her marriage to C. Aubrey Hearn on September 1, 1933. The following year she earned a Master’s degree in English from Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Twenty-one years later, when her sixth child had entered first grade, Florence began another career, as the first and only director of the Immanuel Baptist Church (Nashville) kindergarten. During the nineteen years of its existence, the school grew from a single class of twenty children to a group of five age-graded classes.

For many of those twenty-one years Florence had been writing articles and curriculum for the Baptist Sunday School Board. While she was directing the kindergarten, she also wrote books for children, and a "how-to" book for adults working with preschool children. The first book, Children of Bible Days, was later translated into Chinese and published in Hong Kong. Besides writing, Florence also led conferences and workshops on preschool work. For many years, summer meant either Ridgecrest, NC or Glorieta, NM where she would spend weeks teaching five-year-olds or helping others learn how to teach them.

The conferences and writing assignments kept up for some time after Florence resigned as kindergarten director. Eventually, sometime past her seventieth birthday, her professional work eased up enough that she could devote more time to hobbies: fine needlework, singing in the church choir, playing in the Immanuel Baptist Church Handbell Choir, and playing alto recorder with Immanuel’s Recorder Consort. When she suffered a stroke at age eighty-six, she sent word that she would "not be able to have the recorder practice at my house Friday night."

The following is excerpted from a biography written by Florence's mother, Lena Allen Conner, in 1949: Florence Rebecca Conner was born in Tuskegee, Alabama July 21, 1908, in the small cottage next to the T.Y. Conner "big house" which occupied the main site on the hill of forty acres owned by him.

When her father first came to Tuskegee, the family lived with Father Conner's family. Florence caught her thumb in the door-jam of the back porch screen door. The door was made of heavy two-by-fours. It mashed the end of her thumb off and left the bone exposed... The doctor said that the accident would not keep Florence from playing the piano.

Once when I went to church in Opp, I left Florence with Psyche, who was the cook. I returned to find her in the high chair at the dining room table with the pepper box for a toy. She was screaming for dear life, but Psyche was still in the kitchen doing that marvelous cooking she was famous for. Florence was two years old at the time...

That she was always aiming high and hitting her mark is attested by the perfectly round hole, the exact size of a baseball, which is still in the top window of the back hall in the Andalusia house.