Brenda J. Arrington, 68, of Atlanta; an educator and West End community activist invested in her neighborhood.

As an artist, educator, counselor and community activist, Brenda Arrington knew potential when she saw it. From the young people she mentored to the Historic West End neighborhood she cherished, working to improve things was a labor of love.

Brenda Joyce Arrington of Atlanta died March 9 at Hospice Atlanta from complications of colon cancer. She was 68. The body was cremated. A memorial service was held Wednesday. Carl M. Williams Funeral Directors was in care of arrangements.

Originally from Trenton, N.J., Arrington graduated from Trenton Central High School and received her B.A. in elementary education from Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. She received her master’s in religious education from Princeton Theological Seminary, then came to Atlanta to attend Georgia State University, where she received a master’s in education and an education specialist degree in school psychology. She went on to teach in the Atlanta Public Schools before becoming a school psychologist.

In addition to her education background, Arrington was an artist who had her stained glass pieces featured in shows and her Atlanta home.

In 2002, Arrington told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that she bought her house in West End after participating in a tour of homes in the late 80s, saying, “I love old houses and didn’t want to live anyplace else.”

“She loved historical preservation and was instrumental in extending the historical boundaries of the West End neighborhood,” said her friend, Dr. Arletta Brinson of Atlanta, who met Arrington at Georgia State as they both studied to become school psychologists.

A champion for her neighborhood, Arrington volunteered with the West End Neighborhood Development, Inc., helped organize the West End Festival and served as a chair for the West End Tour of Homes.

Neighborhood beautification projects were also important to Arrington, who worked with Trees Atlanta over several years to have more than 2000 trees planted in the area. “We used to call her Johnnetta Appleseed,” Brinson said.

Investing in the people in her neighborhood was just as important to Arrington, who extended her home on many occasions to young people who were going through a transitional period in their lives. “She let it be known that she expected excellence,” said her goddaughter, Davida Reed of Atlanta.

According to Reed, she required young people to show her their report cards and tell her about their achievements. “If they did not meet her high expectations, they would get a lecture,” Reed said.

“She had a personality that you would not forget,” said her godson and mentee, Samuel Alsobrook of Atlanta who met Arrington when he started walking her beloved dog, Buddy J. White. He recalled that Arrington would sometimes use tough love to make sure he stayed focused as a college student.

“She didn’t just talk about mentoring, she put it into action,” said Brinson, who shared that Arrington would take young people to the bookstore every Saturday to purchase books and that she financed a young man’s trip to art camp because she noticed his artistic ability.

“She would always say that a mind is a terrible thing to waste and the one thing that nobody could ever take away from you is the knowledge you have,” said Reed.

In addition to her godchildren, Arrington is survived by her brother, Donald Bruce Arrington of Willingboro, N.J. and step-brother, William “Skipper” Gunn, of Baltimore, Md.