Joyce Brown - Gena Gittel bat Natan ve-Adele – January 5, 2016
We’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Joyce Brown, beloved mother, sister, grandmother, great-grandmother and cherished friend. Joyce has struggled with medical problems for a long time now, she had nine lives, but she finished her ninth life, and it was time to go. But she lived all those nine lives to the fullest.
She was born Regina Joyce Feldman in New Haven, June 10, 1926, a daughter of the late Newton & Adele Feldman and sister of Doris, Buddy, Jackie and Elinore. She would always be close to her sisters and brother. We mourn today with Buddy, and we wish Doris well. She visited Doris in Florida in July, 2014 and that was a wonderful and meaningful trip.
She graduated high school, Hillhouse Class of 44.
At age 14, she saw a young man of 15 playing music. That was Babe. They were childhood sweethearts who got married a few years later before he went away in the service. There is no way to describe how wonderful their marriage was. It was even celebrated on the Phil Donohue show. They were perfect together in every way, a model for all the rest of us. I will never get over her devotion when he was in the last stages of his life, her commitment, her patience, her love. Those were tough times, but she was unbelievable.
After two years in Chicago where Arnold was born, they came back because his father died. Mark was born and then Nancy. They moved to Hamden in 52. Together they raised their wonderful children. She was a great advocate for her kids. Arnie and Mark talk about how they were raised with tough love and gentle firmness. They had to go to bed at 7 every night. She encouraged them to do whatever they did well. She gave them a great suburban childhood with swim clubs and great vacations. They grew up with a mother who had a phone attached to her head. It was always a very important call.
Their friends loved their mom
She liked it when friends came over because she knew where they were
One summer night, she made a huge Lasagna dinner party, but one person wasn’t invited and like the Wicked Fairy in Sleeping Beauty he called the police. But you see, she knew everyone, including the police, so they came, ate some of the lasagna, and left
She was proud of her children and their marriages and families, Arnold and Annette, Mark and Norma, & Nancy and Jeffrey. She was a wonderful mother in law. She was very welcoming. She loved each of her children and in-law children. For example, she called Jeffrey “a good guy,” which was a huge compliment.
She depended on him.
The best part was her grandchildren, Dylan & Colleen, Steven & Felicia, Heather & Clio Brown, and her treasured Great-Grandchildren, Owen, Liam, & Rory. They say that she was the Best grandmother. She never missed an event and she and Babe even got an award as best grandparents who came to events. The grandchildren were taught not to be afraid to say what you think and be loud. Grandchildren would stay with them for days at a time.
She went into Real estate when the kids were a little older. She took classes and got her license. She really knew this area. She was involved in local politics. She wrote letters to the paper
And she knew so many people.
She knew people who grew up here and stayed here and raised their children.
And she represented companies and did invitations for life-cycle events.
She cared about her appearance and was always well put together. She got her hair done every week.
She loved her watermelon lipstick. She was known as Mrs. Watermelon at Bon Ton.
She was a woman of strong opinions
But she could change her opinions with new information.
She played Mah Jong religiously and was thrilled when Nancy started playing, like she was passing down tradition.
She was a mainstay of this synagogue, heavily involved, especially in the Temple Sisterhood
She was Woman of the Year in 1964. During these last years, her wonderful friendship with Sonny Katz made not only them but also everyone else happy. The kids were happy because they knew Sonny from back in the day. When Joyce and Sonny came to shul, they always thought they were whispering, but everyone around them heard them talking. She would tell Sonny "we have to whisper, we’re in shul" at the top of her lungs. It also took them forever to get from one end of the sanctuary to the other because she stopped and talked to EVERYONE! She was the mayor.
This lady could talk. She could talk to anybody, anywhere. Strangers in the line at the grocery store. She loved to shop. It was a social event for her. She knew everybody.
She would talk in “Typical Joyce fashion.”
There was no filter. It could be embarrassing sometimes, but I would defend her and say that she was a straight-shooter and that everything she said was Right from the heart.
I will always remember her in her bedroom at the Towers, staring for hours at the photographs on the wall. She loved each picture and each child and each sibling. Her family and her friends were everything to her.
Nancy and Joyce were always very close, but during these last years, Nancy has played an even bigger role. If you’ve ever been in the role of caregiver and decision-maker, you know that this is constant, daily, tremendous pressure. But you also know what Nancy knows – that this is the ultimate act of love. On behalf of Joyce and her family and friends, we thank Nancy for everything.
Around thirty years ago, I wandered into the Whitney Donut shop and there were Joyce and Babe, sitting like they owned the place. And Joyce was reading the business section of the local paper. I was younger then, and not into business at all, so I asked her why she was reading that section so closely. And she looked at me and said, with great exuberance, “It’s LIFE!”
All these years, I’ve remembered how she said the word “LIFE.” She was a metabolically positive person. She went through so much, emotionally and physically, but she carried on.
What I ask of each of you is to love life like Joyce did. That would be the greatest tribute to this great lady.
She was a righteous woman. May she rest in peace. Let us say Amen.