Caecelia Christine Brown

March 22, 1928 - April 28, 2017
Grand Rapids, MI



Tuesday, May 2, 2017
9:30 AM to 10:30 AM EDT
St. Ann's Home
2161 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Rosary 9:00 AM


Tuesday, May 2, 2017
10:30 AM to 11:30 AM EDT
St. Ann's Home
2161 Leonard St. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504


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.

Emmanuel Hospice
2161 Leonard Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
(616) 719-0919

Life Story / Obituary


Energetic, resilient, and generous, Caecelia Brown was a blessing to everyone she met. She was guided by an unwavering faith throughout her life, and her example of what it means to put others first was so inspiring. Caecelia faced times of trial throughout her life, but her quiet strength was easy to see. Although she treasured her roles as a wife and mother, she just may have argued that it was becoming a grandmother and great-grandmother that was her greatest source of pride and joy. Caecelia had so many of the most amazing life experiences, but what made them truly extraordinary was sharing them with the ones she loved. Dearly loved, she will be forever missed.

The decade we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties brought us some of the most vibrant days we have experienced as a nation. Cars were more affordable for the average American family, radios put us in touch with the world around us, and the world of flight was soaring to new heights due to the adventurous spirits of Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great excitement in the lives of Thomas M. and Antoinette (Sleziak) Nowak as they were pleased to announce the birth of the baby girl they named Caecelia Christine on March 22, 1928, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her parents were immigrants who met on the boat to Ellis Island and later relocated to Grand Rapids. Caecelia’s father was a Pennsylvania coal miner while her mother was a homemaker who also ran a boarding house for coal miners. Once in Grand Rapids, her father worked for the railroad.

In many ways Caecelia was a typical young girl of her generation. She was the ninth of 10 children as she was joined in her family by her older siblings, Joseph, Agnes, Anne, Frank, Mary, John, Angie, and Emily, and her younger brother, Daniel. Their family home was located on Park Street, SW, and together they were members of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church. Caecelia loved ice skating and sledding at John Ball Park near her home, and she was also in the drama club at school. All 12 years of her education were spent at Mt. Mercy Academy.

New and exciting changes were in store for Caecelia when she met the man who would forever change the course of her life. He was a Navy veteran named Robert F. Brown, and they met while ice skating at John Ball Park. They began dating and soon found themselves deeply in love. A bit later, they eloped and were married. Together they welcomed two children, Cheryll and Michelle, into their hearts and home. As a family they were members of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church where Caecelia was active as a lecturer and worked the festival and mini-raffle and funeral lunches. She loved spending time with her children and later her wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren. As a family they took a couple of family vacations including to Florida and out West, camping the whole time. Summers were often spent at a seasonal trailer on Long Lake in Northern Michigan where they did plenty of fishing, boating, swimming, making memories. The couple moved a bit over the years as they lived on Dayton Street, SW, Eastern Avenue, California Street, NW, on West Grand Boulevard, NW, and finally on Ironwood NW.

In addition to caring for her home and family, Caecelia kept busy with other things. After high school she took a job as a telephone operator at Michigan Bell telephone Company. Over her 30 years there, Caecelia worked her way up to supervisor by the time she retired. She was president of the local union, Telephone Pioneers of America. After retiring, Caecelia worked as a booking agent booking shows for Kramer and Associates, an entertainment company. Later in life she took a job at the call center for Meijer where she worked for more than 11 years.

Throughout her life Caecelia was a bustle of activity. She remained close with her siblings, and over the years they got together frequently. Caecelia was an avid flower gardener who also loved growing tomatoes. With her polish heritage, she loved cooking polish cuisine like pierogi, golumbki, kielbasa, and kapusta. Caecelia loved television game shows, Dancing With The Stars, and The Big Bang Theory. When it came to music, she enjoyed Barbara Streisand and Celine Dion as well as Broadway shows and musicals.

Later in life, Caecelia was deeply saddened with the death of her beloved, husband, Robert, after years of suffering with COPD. Throughout his illness, Caecelia cared for him in their home. After his death on June 9, 1991, she did her best to move forward. She rented a town home in Destin Florida along the Emerald Coast. There, Caecelia spent her winters and became very active in the snowbird community, becoming president and directing the activities there for 10 years. She loved deep sea fishing and usually caught a few. Caecelia made a delicious meal from the red snapper and grouper she caught. She later spent winters living with her daughter Cheryll and helping her with her business in the Florida Keys

In 2013, Caecelia suffered a stroke, which limited her activity. She lived with Michelle for a time and later at a couple assisted living facilities for therapy. Wherever she was, Caecelia always looked for someone to care for. She eventually suffered sepsis and other complications, which brought her to St. Ann’s Home. She spent the last five months of her life there, making many friends along the way.

All who knew Caecelia Brown would agree that she was a blessing in their lives. She was fun-loving and loyal to her family and friends, offering them love without condition. Energetic and resilient, Caecelia made the best of things, and her love for life was easy to see. She will never be forgotten.

Caecelia C. Brown, aged 89 of Grand Rapids, passed away on Friday morning, April 28, 2017 at St. Ann’s Home. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert F. Brown, and her 9 siblings and their spouses; Joseph (Helen) Nowak, Agnes (Edward) Szysko, Anne (Al) Chorney, Frank (Betty) Nowak, Mary (Joe) Plaska, John (Dorothy) Nowak, Angie (Leon) VanDalsen, Emily Huisenga, Fr. Daniel Nowak. She is survived by her children, Cheryll L. Woolf, Michelle and James Zokoe; her six grandchildren, Christopher (Jenn) Kurylowicz, Giselle (Troy) Smit, Ginger (Joe) Weemhoff, Rebecca (Scott) VandenBerg, James (Renee) Zokoe, Trevor Zokoe; 15 great grandchildren; brother-in-law, Robert Huizenga; many nieces, nephews and friends. Caecelia was a loving and dedicated wife, mother, grandmother, great grandmother, sister, aunt and a friend to all who knew her. She was a longtime member of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Ann’s Home Chapel, 2161 Leonard St. NW on Tuesday May 2, at 10:30 am. Relatives and friends may meet her family at St. Ann’s Home Chapel, on Tuesday from 9:30 am until the Mass begins at 10:30 am. The rosary will be prayed prior to visitation at 9:00 am at the Chapel. Burial in Holy Cross Cemetery. Contributions in her memory may be made to Emmanuel Hospice. To read more about Caecelia’s life, to sign her guest book and to leave your own memory of her, visit her web page at www.lifestorynet.com