With great sorrow and bittersweet gratitude, we announce the passing of our generous, brave, talented, caring and wickedly funny mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. Betty passed peacefully at home in Litchfield Park, AZ surrounded by her loving daughters, including her favorite four-legged baby Ms. Bobbi Sue, while wearing her favorite Elvis Presley pajamas.
Betty was born in Emmett WVA on July 15th, 1944, a proud coal miner’s daughter. Betty grew up dirt poor up the holler in West Hamlin, WVA. Young Betty taught herself to sew by making her doll’s clothes and then her own clothes. She learned to make her own patterns which sparked a lifelong passion and talent for creating beautiful things out of nothing at all. She was very generous and shared her talents with so many, from one-of-a-kind wedding dresses for each of her daughters to unique gowns for Miss Michigan contestants to elegant draperies and re-upholstered furniture. One could walk into someone’s house and immediately discern BB’s decorative influence and unique style. Everyone who knows Betty owns something special and unique made especially for them by her.
In 1961, Betty and her family moved from WVA to Michigan in time for her to finish high school. Shortly after, Betty met the love of her life, Jim, who fell immediately and madly in love with beautiful Betty. They became engaged but before she was able to be wed in the Catholic church, she needed to be baptized into the Catholic faith. Betty’s soon-to-be dear mother-in-law, Ms. Wanda Brown, was delighted to be Betty’s baptism sponsor. Betty was baptized on July 20th, 1962. Betty married James B. Brown on August 4th, 1962, and they soon had three kids underfoot, Michael (Moose), Debbie (Deekie) and Pam (PJ). Jim and Betty raised their kids first in Livonia, MI, Detroit, MI, then finally settling in Dearborn Heights, MI in 1974. Betty and Jim’s love was strong, and they were inseparable until Jim’s death in 1999.
Betty and Jim worked a lot to make ends meet; Jim working for Ford Motor Co and Betty soon being picked up by General Motors as her talents were a natural fit for making and designing car seats. Betty’s skills in car seat pattern development flourished through the years and she was recognized with patents and awards for car seat pattern design while working for GM, Designs and Textiles, Johnson Controls (JCI), and Tesla. One of Betty’s car seat pattern designs enabled quick release of seat side air bags, earning her a prestigious patent. That exact design is used on most cars in production today and has probably saved countless lives. Her fondest memories are working at JCI alongside a motley crew of engineers who kept her laughing even through the most stressful deadlines. She had special places in her heart for Phil, Jeffro and Big Jer until the end.
Betty and Jim were role models for their daughters in both work ethic and choosing marriage partners. Betty and Jim adored their sons-in law, Mark and Mike, and treated them both like sons of their own. So much so that Betty always had a long honey-do list ready for her fellas when they would come to visit, and they always made sure to get every chore checked off. Betty loved her sons-in-law deeply and appreciated everything they did for her.
The real loves of Betty’s life came when her kids FINALLY started popping out her grandbabies; McKenzie (Peanut), Tyler (T-Man), Joseph (Cream Puff) James (Ni-Ni), Reece and Temperance (Poppit). Betty was the ultimate Grammi, and her grandbabies adored her. She made the best memories for their childhoods including movie nights in her theater, sleepovers with lots of friends and endless junk food, and yearly visits by Santa where the grandkids could view in awe from her second story loft, his entrance and exit, leaving each child their bag of goodies under the tree. Grammi made many magical memories for her grandbabies, and they loved her dearly and she them, including her honorary grandbabies, Jack, Tom, Kevin, and Stevie.
Betty’s wicked sense of humor remained even as things got tough towards the end. She was witty, talented, and lived life on her terms, and she left the earth just the same. We are grateful that Betty is at peace in the arms of God and reunited with her love, Jim.
The family wishes to give special thanks and recognition to each of the caregivers from Hospice of the Valley for providing the utmost tender loving care and attention to Betty as if she was their own mother or grandmother. Final arrangements are private, per Betty’s wish. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial donations be made to Hospice of the Valley Arizona at HOV.Org.