Jane Ann (Norris) Brown, 81, a former resident of Youngstown, OH, and the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville, died on September 17, 2013. She resided at Orchard Valley, Wilbraham, MA at the time of her death.
Jane was born on November 8, 1931, in Youngstown, OH, to Norman and Harriet (Guy) Norris. She was raised with her younger sister, Josephine, at the family home in Churchill, Liberty Township. The home passed through five generations of her family, and provided many happy childhood memories for Jane and Jo.
Jane graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Lake Erie College in 1953, with a degree in economics and sociology. She was the first woman hired to the professional staff of the YMCA in Youngstown, where she served as Assistant Youth Director at the Youngstown YMCA and Girls’ Camp Director at Camp Fitch on Lake Erie. It was here she met David Halbe Brown, “Halbe,” who was the Boys’ Camp Director. Jane and Halbe were married on March 14, 1958, in Poland, OH, with Halbe’s father, Rev. Thomas Brown, officiating.
In 1966 they moved to the Frost Valley YMCA in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Jane’s career of more than 40 years was dedicated to the YMCA, and to the campers, counselors, families, and board members with whom she worked. In grateful recognition of her decades of devoted service, she was inducted into the Frost Valley Hall of Fame in 2011. She was recognized for her ability to connect individuals of all ages to each other and to the broader mission of the Frost Valley YMCA.
Jane mentored children and youth throughout her life. She served as a second mother to many young people. Her home was always open, with a pie in the oven, for anyone who arrived and needed a warm welcome. Jane was a church member and Sunday school teacher at the Claryville Reformed Church in Claryville and the Barre Congregational Church (UCC) in Barre, VT. She served on the Parent-Teacher Association for the Tri-Valley School in Grahamsville, for many years.
In 2001, Jane and Halbe moved to Barre, VT, where they continued to host family reunions with their four sons, daughter, and 13 grandchildren. In 2009, they moved to Massachusetts to be closer to their children and siblings. Jane will be remembered for her graciousness, steady optimism, selfless generosity, and commitment to those in need. She dedicated her life to serving others and never forgot a person she met. Her quiet faith and abiding belief in the goodness of others were the source of her strength.
Jane was predeceased by her husband of 54 years, David Halbe Brown; parents Norman and Harriet Norris, and sister Josephine Mellinger; son-in-law Jeffrey Bickart; brother-in-law David Sano; and nephews David Sano and Thomas Sano.
She is survived by children Jeffrey David (Wendy) of Yellowstone National Park, WY., William Thomas(Katherine) of Canton, James Norris (Fumiko) of Westhampton, MA, David Halbe (Diane) of Denali National Park, AK, and Jennifer Lynn Bickart of Elmore,VT; grandchildren Ellie, Kai, Laura, Becca, Grace, Hana, Halbe, Sarah, Sam, Alex, Laura, Ben, and Isabel; and 11 nephews and nieces.
She is also survived by Halbe’s siblings, with whom she was close: Virginia (Richard) Gamble of Youngstown, OH, Thomas (Lynn) Brown of Old Greenwich, CT, Helene Sano of Alliance, OH, Mary Ellen (William) Webster of Northborough, MA, Paul Brown of Claryville, and Paula (Tom) Holland of Duxbury, MA.
A memorial service will be held in the Ketcham Chapel at the Frost Valley YMCA in Claryville on Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013 at 10:30 a.m.
Friends and family can honor Jane’s life through gifts to the “Halbe and Jane Brown Memorial Fund” at the Frost Valley YMCA.
The family has entrusted New England Funeral & Cremation Center, LLC 25 Mill St., Springfield, MA with the arrangements. Visit www.nefcc.net