If you walk by Old Pine Street Church graveyard on any given Saturday from April through October, you will be invited to take a tour of the historic site by our docent, Brion Sirine. Standing in front of the gate to the graveyard, Brion entices folks taking a leisurely stroll as well as those taking their pets out for a walk to come in and explore the history found in this sacred place.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Brion attended Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, where he majored in political science. Upon graduating, he was a Vista volunteer and served a year at Nashville, Tennessee. Upon settling in Philadelphia, Brion worked as a counselor at the Cornwell Heights Youth Development Center. He went on to work as a Community Organizer at Senior Wheels East in North Philadelphia. Ever pursuing his interest in public service, in 1977 Brion was appointed Director of the Reed Street Senior Center of the City’s Health Department. Alongside the Senior Citizens Building Committee and Health Department, he worked to build a new center at Dickinson and Passyunk Avenue. The center, later renamed South Philadelphia Older Adult Center (SPOAC), became an instant success, earning Brion Supervisor of the Year of the Health Department. He was the first non-medical employee to be thus honored.
In 1986, Brion re-met Jane Large, who was working as the bilingual worker for the homebound elderly. Brion and Jane became engaged on Valentine’s Day, 1987 and married at Old Pine Street Church in March 1988.
Although he had never previously been on a sailboat, Brion’s adventurous spirit led him to join the Liberty Sailing Club in 1989. For several years he applied himself to all sailing positions and soon became racing and cruising skipper. He was the 2012 winning skipper of the J-27 Class of Philadelphia Cup Races! His sailing adventures are not limited to Philadelphia. Brion has participated in sailing trips in Greece, British Virgen Island and Grenada!
He and Jane have enjoyed traveling both in the United States and abroad. Every Sunday they can be seen holding hands as they walk into Old Pine Street Church.
The Old Pine Conservancy is indeed fortunate to have Brion volunteering as a tour guide. Brion’s tours are a delightful combination of his knowledge of our graveyard and colonial history as well as a flavor for the adventurous spirit in all of us!