Mary Elizabeth Brayboy saved Ray O. Elwood and another man from assault, Carville, Louisiana, March 29, 1984. Elwood, 51, and another man were in an office with a co-worker, Mrs. Brayboy, 44, editorial clerk. Another co-worker, who was angered, entered the office with a handgun, which he aimed at Elwood and the other man. Mrs. Brayboy lunged at the gunman, pushing the weapon down as it fired, but the bullet struck Elwood in the calf. The gunman then pulled the trigger again, but the gun did not fire. While the gunman was attempting to put another bullet in the gun, Mrs. Brayboy placed herself between the gunman and the other two men and pushed him out of the office. He fled. Mrs. Brayboy provided first aid to Elwood, who was hospitalized for his wound; he recovered. 60614-6970
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Dr. Mary Elizabeth Jones Brayboy, 65, of Chapel Hill, N.C., died July 17, 2005. Brayboy, a national American Indian educator, grew up on her family’s farm in the rural Robeson County community of Wakulla. She received her bachelor’s degree in home economics education from Pembroke State College (now the University of North Carolina at Pembroke) in 1961. She taught in the public schools of North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania for eight years before becoming a program administrator for Baltimore City Schools. At age 41, she earned her master’s degree from Hood College in Frederick, Md. She earned her doctorate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1990.
As a supervisory group leader in the national Office of Indian Education in Washington, D.C., Brayboy advocated for American Indians and Alaskan native learners. During her time there, she served as advisor to the office director and designed and implemented the grant process for $110 million in formula and discretionary grants to local educational agencies that served U.S. elementary and secondary American Indian native learners. She spoke and presented workshops about the policies and procedures of the Office of Indian Education across the country.
On March 29, 1984, while living in Louisiana, she risked her own life to save two co-workers. For her heroic actions, she was awarded the Carnegie Medal by the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission of Pittsburgh. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services gave Brayboy its Distinguished Service Award. This honor is among the highest bestowed upon a U.S. civilian.
(Edited from the Robeson, Lumberton, N.C., July 20, 2005.)