WILMINGTON — Mary Irene Manning Brown, 83, born Sept. 12, 1934, died Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017.
She gave us life and taught us how to love each other and care about other people. That alone would qualify as a life well-lived to many people. But this tough and loving Irish-American woman was so much more than just that. To her children she was a teacher, doctor, nurse, cook, housekeeper, spirit guide, confidant, adviser, grandmother and all-round provider. But most of all, she was our best friend, greatest fan and biggest supporter of the things we did. In our eyes, she was our angel right here on earth.
She was also a wife who outlived her soul-mate husband of more than 56 years, Robert S. Brown Jr. She loved him and cared for him without complaining as he suffered many years with several ailments of old age. This God-loving woman, born in Newark, N.J., in 1934, reflected God’s love in her interactions with her family, friends, church, community and strangers.
Kindness was her most obvious treasure as she shared her energy, finances and ideas to brighten the lives of everyone she met. She made good friends and had good friends. She understood these connections were the most important things we can have in our lives. Her loyalty and devotion was demonstrated by the unconditional love she shared in her close relationships.
In her church communities, she served as a Cub Scout leader and as president of the Ladies Guild for many years at both St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Nutley, N.J., and St. Mark Catholic Church in Wilmington, N.C. She and her husband were founding members of St. Mark Catholic Church, where they also served for more than 24 years in the excellent St. Mark Choir. The choir had a special place in her heart. It was there that she felt closest to God and where she made some of her dearest friends. She served the church in many ways large and small. She was always ready to help with new projects.
She faced death with courage, grace and dignity and was finally taken from us after a brave, two-year battle with multiple myeloma cancer. She left us with one last lesson: learning how to live without her.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Robert S. Brown Jr.; son, Mark Joseph Brown; and son-in law, Eugene Bryant. They have prepared a house for her in heaven and have called her home for a grand reunion. She holds the distinction of living longer than all the members of her family; an accomplishment we were all very happy that she achieved. The family that she has returned to includes her mother, Mary Kiernan Manning; father, Walter Manning; and two brothers, James and Walter Manning.
Death is harder on the living than the dead. Hurting the most on this day are her children, Kathleen Bryant, Robert S. Brown III, and his wife, Gabriela Brown, and Patricia Sewell, and her husband, Frank Sewell; and especially her grandchildren, Mark Sewell and Jillian Sewell, and her fiancé, William Blanchard Jr.
We would like to thank the staff of the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Association for their guidance and assistance in managing our mother’s final days.
The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Andrews Mortuary & Crematory Valley Chapel, 4108 South College Road, Wilmington. A funeral Mass will be conducted at 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, at St. Mark Catholic Church, 1011 Eastwood Road, Wilmington. Interment will follow in Oleander Memorial Gardens.
Share online condolences with the family at andrewsmortuary.com.