Betty Jean Brown, 96, of Tolono, formerly of Hammond, Decatur and Forsyth, Illinois, and Riverview, Florida, passed away peacefully Saturday, June 6, 2020, at Arbor Rose of Tolono.
Mrs. Brown was born Aug. 8, 1923, at her family’s farm house near Hammond, Illinois, to Elizabeth and William J. Fisher. She married Richard E. Brown on Dec. 31, 1942, in Decatur, Illinois. She was preceded in death by Richard on Feb. 28, 2005 and daughter-in-law Robin Brown on Aug. 16, 2004.
She is survived by children: James (Lynda) Brown, Bozeman, Montana; Jerry (Donna) Brown, Norridge, Illinois; Linda (Floyd) Price, Beaufort, South Carolina; and, Kent (Amy) Brown, St. Joseph, Illinois. Grandchildren are: Tony Brown, Eagle River, Wisconsin; Derek (Allyson) Dowdell, Bristol, Tennessee; Jennifer Frazzini, Norridge, Illinois; Aaron (Julie) Dowdell, Versailles, Kentucky; Andy (Angie) Dowdell, Edmond, Oklahoma; Carly (Donnie) Olsson, Bozeman, Montana; Shane (Cari) Henkelman; Cory (Jessica) Henkelman, St. Louis, Missouri; Elliot (Corey) Frith, Bozeman, Montana; Mallory (Sean) MacDermott, Avon, Indiana; Zach (fiancé Alice Buckley) Brown, Bozeman, Montana; Nicholle (Todd) Metzger, Champaign; Ty Brown, St. Joseph and Cameron Brown, St. Joseph.
Great-grandchildren are: Piper and Violet Olsson, Bozeman, Montana; Grayson, Parker and Vera Frith, Bozeman, Montana; Jack, Max and Joseph Brown, Eagle River, Wisconsin; Charlotte Frazzini, Norridge, Illinois; Trevor and Trent Dowdell, Bristol, Tennessee; Jackson, Parker and Fisher Dowdell, Edmond, Oklahoma; William, Sam and Bennett Dowdell, Versailles, Kentucky; Keegan and Kailynn West, Jordyn and Jace Henkelman, St. Joseph, Illinois.
As a youngster, Betty rode her horse, Babe, to a one-room schoolhouse near Hammond, Illinois, and graduated as valedictorian for the Hammond High School class of 1939. Following high school, Betty attended Brown’s Business College in Decatur, where she met a handsome young man from Boody, Illinois. Richard and Betty were married on New Year’s Eve of 1942 because it fell on a Thursday and they would both have a four-day weekend before having to return to work, Richard for the telephone company and Betty as a secretary. Being an only child, Betty immensely enjoyed the large Brown family and their many gatherings.
Soon after the marriage in Decatur, Betty and Richard started their family with the birth of James in October, 1943. Jerry (1945), Linda (1949) and Kent (1963) completed the family as they moved from Blue Mound to Macon, Sidney and Hammond, as Richard and Betty farmed for a living. Betty also worked for Urbana pediatrician Dr. Lippi in the early 1960s. The couple retired from farming in 1987 and moved to Decatur until Richard died in 2005. Betty then moved to Forsyth, while also maintaining a residence at Rice Creek RV Park in Riverview, Florida, where she and Richard had spent many winters. In 2016, Betty moved to Urbana and Champaign before her final residence at Arbor Rose Adult Daycare and Memory Care Center in Tolono in 2019.
Richard and Betty greatly enjoyed camping and traveling, making trips from coast-to-coast, visiting nearly every state including vacations in Hawaii and an Alaskan cruise. They also traveled to Switzerland to visit their Swiss son, Olivier Guyot, who lived with them on the farm in Hammond as an AFS exchange student in 1980-81. Betty, and her good friend and neighbor Bob Lloyd, enjoyed each other’s company at Rice Creek for several years, including a cruise through the Panama Canal, until Betty moved back to Illinois permanently in 2016.
A voracious reader, Betty served many years on the Hammond Library Board. She also served many years as an election official in Pierson Station, volunteered countless hours for many different boards, committees and women’s club for the Hammond United Methodist Church. Betty was a long-time member of Hammond United Methodist Church and an active member of Grace United Methodist Church while living in Decatur and Forsyth. She proudly served in several leadership roles while residing at Rice Creek including time as “Social Director,” organizing card tournaments, Sadie Hawkins Day and costume parades.
Betty was an important partner to Richard in their farming operation, was an expert seamstress and excellent cook. Her homemade jams, jellies, noodles, rolls and other baked goods are legendary within the Brown family.
Betty’s family would like to thank the caring, professional staff members at Prairie Winds of Urbana, Bickford of Champaign and Arbor Rose of Tolono for their gentle care over the last four years.
A visitation and Celebration of Life will be held at a future date because of the COVID-19 worldwide pandemic. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the Hammond United Methodist Church in memory of Betty Brown.
Hilligoss Shrader Funeral Home, Atwood, IL is assisting the family with the arrangements. Online condolences may be shared via hilligossshraderfh.com