Sunday, July 10, 2016
7:00 PM to 9:00 PM EDT
Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes
Alt & Shawmut Chapel
2120 Lake Michigan Dr., N.W.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Rosary will be prayed at 7 PM
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
501 St. Jude Place
Memphis, TN 38105
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
Throughout her rich and rewarding journey, Barbara Brown lived a life of purpose while holding her loved ones near. She was never one to worry about the little things, rather, her life was focused on making the most of each and every day she was given. Gracious, genuine, and kindhearted, Barbara was a blessing to her family that grew to include the children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchild who filled her heart with joy. Although she experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, what made them truly extraordinary for Barbra was sharing these experiences with the ones she loved. Although she will be deeply missed, she will never be forgotten.
It was great to be an American during the 1920s. Innovation was leading the way to new technology that was transforming the way we lived our daily lives. Radios, washing machines, and motion pictures in both color and sound were among the latest trends while the lights of Broadway never shined brighter. Amidst this eventful time was the year 1924 that was filled with great anticipation for Emery and Mary (Hendges) Stewart as they were eagerly waiting the birth of their new baby as the beauty of fall began unfolding in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that September. The big day finally arrived on September 12th when the baby girl they named Barbara Ann made her grand entrance. She was one of seven children in the Stewart clan as she was joined in her family by her siblings, Maxine, Jim, LeRoy, Jack, Emery, and Carl. Barbara’s father worked as a boiler in the local gypsum mine while her mother worked in a factory and also raised Barbara and her siblings.
For the most part Barbara was a young girl of her generation. She attended Oakgrove Elementary where she was social and outgoing, making many friends. Barbara and her family were members of St. James Catholic Church, and she also participated in the local 4-H. Her high school years found her at Union High School, and she went on to graduate in 1942.
Not to be forgotten during these years was Barbara’s acquaintance with a young boy named Dick Brown who lived across the street. They interacted a few times, and as they got older they went out on a few dates before he shipped out to the Navy. When Dick on furlough, the pair spent time together at movies and taking walks. Shortly after he was discharged, Barbara and Dick became engaged. With a desire to establish a life together the sweethearts were married on September 7, 1946, in St. James Rectory. They newlyweds then enjoyed a honeymoon at Mammoth Cave National Park.
Upon their return, the couple settled into their new roles. Dick worked at the gypsum mine while Barbara stayed home. They rented one of the mine’s homes, which was a more updated version that had an indoor water pump! Over the years, Barbara and Dick were filled with unspeakable joy to welcome eight children including Richard, Duane, Sue, Deborah, Denise, Rebecca, Joan, and Craig into their hearts and home. In 1957, the growing Brown family purchased a home at 1031 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. As a family they liked camping at Pike Lake, and every year during the last week of July to the first week of August they camped at Grand Marais in the Upper Peninsula. They made priceless memories there and did plenty of fishing and swimming. Later in life Barbara cherished her role as a grandmother, and she loved being with her grandchildren every minute she could. Some of their best memories were made playing at the park. Of course Barbara was always sure to get them all sugared up before sending them home!
Always one to be busy, Barbara was a woman of many interests. She was a collector of everything including postcards, pictures, and beautiful rocks she found along the shores of Lake Superior. Barbara usually made a stop at any garage sale or estate sale that she came across as she was always on the lookout for treasures. She was a lover of life, and she liked to document life as well, making notes of who visited her, what they talked about, and if it was a nice visit. Barbara was a great cook whose specialities included her goulash and chicken, which of course was her personal favorite. She liked country and western music and many of the classics by singers such as Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn. Barbara really loved the casino and was forever asking everyone to take her, and she always preferred the slots on the end.
Life was not without times of trial for Barbara. In 2008 she was deeply saddened with the death of her husband. The days that followed were difficult ones for her as Richard kept her in check and on an even keel. With his death Barbara became more outspoken and wasn’t afraid to voice her opinions. She was able to remain in their home with their grandson, Mike, living next door so he could keep an eye on her. Barbara was fiercely independent and could use her car alarm if she needed to get Mike’s attention. She again faced a difficult time with the deaths of four family members in 2011, but the love of her family got her through. Barbara also remained active in the lives of her extended family members as family was always of the utmost importance.
When reflecting on the life of Barbara Brown, it is easy to see that she was all about family. She worked hard in the things she did, but she also made time to enjoy life along the way as well. Barbara leaves behind a priceless collection of memories that her loved ones will forever hold near and dear to their hearts.
BROWN – Mrs. Barbara Ann Brown, aged 91, of Grand Rapids passed away on July 5, 2016. She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard; daughters, Deborah Swartz and Rebecca (Tom) Heeren; grand-daughter, Jennifer Heeren; great-grand-daughter, Kamrie Heeren; and siblings, Maxine, Jim, and LeRoy. Barbara is survived by her children, Richard (Donna) Brown, Duane (Darlene) Brown, Sue (Fred) Buyze, Denise Heeren, Joan (Harold) Holcom, and Craig (Priscilla) Brown; son-in-law Duane Swartz; 20 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great-grandchild; Also surviving are her brothers, Jack (Bette) Stewart, Emery (Barb) Stewart, and Carl (Arlene) Stewart; the extended Brown Family; and many nieces, nephews, cousins friends. The Funeral Service will be held at 11 AM on Monday, July 11, 2016 at Heritage Life Story Funeral Homes, 2120 Lake Michigan Dr. NW. Friends may meet her family from 2-4 and 7-9 PM, with a Rosary at 7 PM, on Sunday at the funeral home. Contributions in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Faith Hospice. Please visit www.lifestorynet.com to read her lifestory, archive a memory, photo, or sign the guestbook online.