Evelyn Brown Obituary

Evelyn Brown

Obituary of Evelyn Brown

The humble beginnings of her life did not portend the dynamic woman Evelyn Williams Brown would become. She was born November 17, 1924 in Henderson, North Carolina. Her father, Harry Williams, worked for the Pennsylvania railroad, often traveling for days at a time and, although the family lived in Cleveland, Ohio, mother Pauline Gupton Williams returned to North Carolina to be near her own family for the birth of her second child. No doubt, Pauline appreciated the additional grandparent help with two-year-old Louis as the extended family welcomed Evelyn. Back in Cleveland, a sister was added to the family a few years later and Evelyn recalled being quite upset when her daddy brought the new sister downstairs, took Evelyn’s doll out of the doll carriage, and put tiny Margaret in it. Evelyn always looked to her older brother Louis as her official source of all scientific information. When they were aged seven and five, the young siblings were sent outside to play “because Mama ate too much watermelon” and wasn’t feeling well. Louis grumbled “Too much watermelon, my eye! She’s having a baby!” After the big brother and sister were ushered in to meet new brother Ralph, Evelyn asked what color the baby’s eyes were. The knowledgeable Louis responded “Don’t be silly – they won’t open until he’s 21 days old.” The Depression affected the Williams family just as it affected many American families. Her father was able to keep his railroad job, but his hours were slashed, making it almost impossible to support the family. Harry and Pauline decided to move to a small piece of property outside Henderson, NC and live in a three-room log cabin while Harry continued as much as possible to earn income from the railroad. Pauline stayed at the cabin with their four children (and a fifth on the way), raising a garden, milking a cow, and “making do” – without electricity or running water. After sweet Hazel joined the family in 1935, Harry located a house with utilities in town for the family. In 1936, after Harry had [finally] received his bonus for fighting in World War I, he resolved to move the family back to Cleveland. Pauline became sick that July and Harry wanted to take her to the Cleveland Clinic for care and then return to Henderson for the children. During the trip to Ohio, Pauline worsened and became so ill they diverted to a hospital in Washington, D.C. She died of pneumonia the next day. Harry was determined to keep his family together, but working full-time for the railroad and cooking and caring for all the children was simply too much in light of the travel required for his job. He tried taking in boarders who provided help with the children in the crowded quarters of their Cleveland home, but that proved unworkable and, ultimately, the children were split up. Twelve-year-old Evelyn and her younger sister were fostered by families through Catholic Charities and, at times, by relatives. Even through these hard times of separation, the siblings stayed in close contact and continued to do so for the remainder of their lives. Through junior high, Evelyn – along with brother Louis – participated in bands both at school and with the Wurlitzer Company. Evelyn played the piccolo and was full of pride at marching in the band. Eventually, Evelyn lived at a Catholic residential home for high school girls and earned a scholarship to attend St. Joseph Academy. After her 1942 graduation, she continued her studies part-time at the Ursuline College in Cleveland, working to earn the portion of tuition that was not covered by scholarship. During the effort of World War II, Evelyn worked the swing shift at National Malleable laboratory analyzing the chemical content of molten steel that went into steel castings for military vehicles. After the war, Evelyn worked various office jobs in Cleveland and then, in 1948, came to Houston to visit brother Louis. He took her to a fast-pitch softball game one evening and Evelyn couldn’t help noticing the handsome pitcher. After the game, Louis introduced his little sister to the pitcher – Ted Brown – and a new history was born. Evelyn never left Houston. She found clerical work, and she and Ted married in 1950. She continued to work until 1955 when they welcomed their only child, a son. Evelyn beamed when she explained they had named him David because it means “beloved.” When little David went off to Kindergarten, Evelyn resumed college classes at the University of Houston, focusing on mathematical statistics, Fortran, Cobol and Assembler language programming. At times, David accompanied her to the programming lab and the budding engineer simply could not keep his little fingers off the buttons and knobs and the long boxes of keypunch cards. Yes, those were the days of punch cards dumped in batches, the technology that gave rise to part of Evelyn’s first email address: BatchGirl. In 1961 Evelyn joined Uncle Ben’s (now Mars Inc.) and worked with the IBM mainframe computers to convert the old wired programs to computer programs. She was actively involved in subsequent conversions to disk technology and was in charge of training Uncle Ben’s associates on the use of the selective information retrieval systems. Evelyn was proud of her membership in the Association for Systems Management and the Data Processing Management Association, serving on committees and as an officer in both organizations. Although Evelyn retired from full-time employment, she never retired from learning or teaching. Her life-long passion for music continued with her playing both flute and piccolo and singing in the church choir and Houston Community Chorale. She especially enjoyed the weekly visits to nursing homes to sing for the residents. Evelyn was gifted at needle arts. She tatted beautiful collar edging for baptismal gowns and dresses for granddaughter Maria, smocking the front bodices and finishing with French seams. Quilting, crocheting, needlepoint, and general sewing rounded this hobby. Collecting dolls and teddy bears and growing African violets added joy to her life. Evelyn and Ted had a good life together and enjoyed traveling after Ted retired from his position at the Brotherhood of Railroad and Airline Clerks. Always the organizer, Evelyn persuaded Ted and several other friends and family members to dress up in “Old West” garb for a group photo. Evelyn, of course, was beautiful in the red gown and matching red feathered hat. When asked to list some of the things about which she was most gratified, she included teaching David to swim when he was a baby, playing piccolo in the marching band, owning her own home, witnessing David graduate from Texas A&M, changing the color of her hair when it started greying, and the birth of her first grandchild (she was quick to note that she took no credit for that feat!). Her faith was her number one attribute. Truly, she loved the Lord with all her heart and all her soul and all her mind – just as Jesus commanded in Matthew. Her church home was St. Rose of Lima, where she attended Mass at every opportunity. She may be best remembered at St. Rose as a leader in Bible study groups. More than once, when son David would call in the evening, she was say “Oh, David, my Bible study is about to begin. Let me call you back tomorrow.” Studying and understanding the historical background of the Bible, as well as longing to fully capture the teachings of Jesus was a cardinal endeavor for her. After her sweetheart Ted died in 2002, Evelyn continued to live independently in their home. She was quite facile with electronics and kept her computer, her iPhone, and her iPad close at hand to stay in touch with extended family and friends. This year, at the age of 96, she finally gave up driving and asked David to sell her Crown Victoria automobile when he came for Mother’s Day. Her remarkable independence of spirit is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that just a few weeks ago she, herself, called 911 and said she just wasn’t feeling well and thought she needed to go to the hospital. At the hospital, she quietly went to sleep and claimed the promise of her baptism on June 14, 2021. There can be no doubt she is now with her beloved Lord and Savior. Evelyn was preceded in death by her cherished husband of 52 years, Ted; by her loving parents, Harry and Pauline; by her adored brothers Louis and Ralph and sister Margaret. She is survived by beloved son David and his wife, Mary; precious and well-loved grandchildren, Maria, Michael (Rochelle), and Jonathan (Jessica); great-grandson Jonathan; treasured sister Hazel Lambert, numerous nieces and nephews; and innumerable friends. Just as the Lord has loved his faithful servant Evelyn, Evelyn loved the Lord, her family, her church, her friends. Perhaps the words of Jeremiah best express this essence of Evelyn’s life: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3 Charitable donations can be made to St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church or any chosen charity.

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