Christine E. Brown (Mrs. Glenn R. Brown) passed away Wednesday, March 8, 2017 at her home in Tallahassee, Florida, surrounded by her family.
Chris was born Jan. 9, 1920, in Goshen, Indiana. She graduated from Goshen High School in 1938 and attended Goshen College, where she met her husband, Glenn. Chris and Glenn were married in 1942 and lived in Goshen where they both worked at Western Rubber Company. Chris helped Glenn farm and raise chickens in Goshen until 1956 when they moved to Vistula Street in Bristol, Indiana. Glenn started Bristol Trailer Plumbing (Bristol Products, now LaSalle-Bristol).
Chris completed her bachelor's degree in art education from Goshen College in 1961 and taught K-12 art classes in Bristol Schools from 1961-1966. She taught art for Elkhart sophomore division in 1966-1971. She served as district chairman of Indiana Art Teachers Association. After the consolidation of Bristol Schools with Elkhart Schools, Chris reorganized the Bristol Alumni Association, contacting more than 1,200 alumni, coordinating a yearly celebration including a three-day celebration for the 100th birthday of the school in 1984. In 1997, Chris was awarded status of Honorary Bristol Alumni by the Bristol Alumni club.
She served as leader of the Prairie Blue Bonnets 4-H Club in Goshen, beginning in 1953 and soon became chairman of Elkhart County 4-H Crafts. When the family moved to Bristol in 1956, she remained county crafts chairperson and established the Bristol Boosters 4-H Club and was leader for several years.
Indiana State Fair officials asked Chris to do crafts at the State Fair in Indianapolis which she enjoyed doing for 22 years. She conducted crafts workshops throughout Indiana for 4-H, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and many senior citizens groups. She taught the crafts in recreation classes at Purdue University for the late Dr. Harry Edgren for several years and wrote the chapter on arts and crafts in his book, "Recreation for the Family."
Chris first attended Hoosier Recreation Workshop in 1953, which is Indiana's State Workshop for recreation leaders. In 1962, she served as the state chairperson of Hoosier Recreation Workshop. She chaired the week-long 25th year celebration for which she wrote the "History of the Workshop." She continued active involvement in the Hoosier Recreation Workshop for 40 years. In 1983, she was chosen the representative of Hoosier Recreation Workshop at the first National Recreation Workshop. She remained active as an ex-officio member for many years, holding yearly officer retreats at the Brown Farm on C.R. 23 in Bristol. In 2001, Chris established a fund with the Elkhart Community Foundation for a yearly stipend to support operating expenses for Hoosier Recreation Workshop.
In 1986, Chris and Glenn established Glenn and Chris Brown College Scholarship Trust in 1986 for students from Washington Township and it continues to this day. Chris coordinated the book about the history of Bristol, "Tales of a Hoosier Village," published in 1988. She chaired Bristol's Hoosier Celebration 1988 activities. A year later, she established the Bristol Business Association. She was honored as senior queen for the Bristol Homecoming in 1990 and in 2000, she was honored as Bristol Homecoming parade marshal. In 1990, Chris received the first Hospitality Award for Elkhart County, given by the Elkhart County Convention and Tourism Bureau. That same year, she chaired the Liaison Committee for the Elkhart County Historical Society and the Elkhart County Parks Department. She was a member of the Editorial Advisory Committee for Heritage Country Magazine from 1991 to 1993. She established and chaired the Elkhart County Historical Society Foundation and chaired the Save the Bristol Gym campaign. She served for many years as a member of the Bristol Library Board, the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol Optimist Club. She chaired and sponsored the Bonneyville Mills Baking Contest for many years, was a longtime member of the Elkhart County Red Cross Board, the Bristol Park and Recreation Department, the Indiana Park and Recreation Association, served as secretary of the Elkhart County Park Foundation and served as vice president of the Elkhart County Historical Society.
Chris was awarded the then Gov. Evan Bayh's Sagamore of the Wabash Award at Rush Memorial Center on Chris Brown Day 1996, presented by then State Rep. Phil Warner. The Sagamore of the Wabash is the highest award the governor of Indiana can give to a citizen.
Chris and Glenn were Room Naming Donors for the capital campaign for the Elkhart County Historical Museum in 2000. In 2003, she was named a lifetime member of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce for her many years of service to the community.
Chris moved to Tallahassee, Florida, in 2010 to live with her daughter, Donna, and son-in-law, Fletch. She enjoyed the warm weather and particularly loved the lack of snow, which she always referred to as the S-word. Her favorite activities for the past seven years included visiting the local dog park with her Pomeranian, Angel, visiting Tallahassee's Lake Ella, where she enjoyed petting all of the puppies and dogs being walked around the lake. Chris loved feeding the ducks. Almost daily, she took a loaf or two of bread for the ducks. The ducks soon learned to recognize her van and her wheelchair, always forming an active and very noisy welcoming committee the moment they saw her. Chris loved shopping, crafts fairs, parades, shopping, eating out, festivals and any event where there might be chocolate to eat or dogs to pet.
While Chris lived in Goshen and Bristol, she loved the Elkhart County Fair, which she had attended every year of her life until she moved to Tallahassee. Then, she began attending every Leon County Fair in Tallahassee, where she especially enjoyed the animal building where she could hand feed zebras, goats, giraffes and other hungry critters, and where she purchased an almost unimaginable quantity of sliced carrots and animal food because she remained convinced that the animals would starve to death without her.
It was not only animals that she enjoyed feeding. Chris and her husband, Glenn, defied the axiom, "there is no free lunch," by serving both breakfast and lunch at their farm house on C.R. 23 for 35 years. Every morning and noon, a varied but interesting group of eight to 20 old and new friends enjoyed Chris and Glenn's hospitality. Several members of this coffee crowd had come to the farmhouse daily for more than 25 years, others came whenever they could. After Glenn passed away, Chris kept the coffee crowd active for another 20 years. These friends were truly Chris's and Glenn's dearly loved extended family. No one was ever a stranger at the Brown Farm and no one ever left hungry. The Brown farmhouse was recently sold, marking the end of a truly memorable era.
Chris was predeceased by her parents, Jesse and Tillie Bruce of Waterford, Indiana; her husband, Glenn R. Brown, who passed away in 1995; and her daughter, Candace Brown, who passed away in 2011.
Chris is survived by her daughter, Donna Fletcher (husband Fletch); her daughter Barbara Wilhelm (husband Jeff); her grandchildren, Robert Newcomer, Barbara Moore, Katie Wilhelm, Nell Walker and Teri Fletcher; and her great-grandchildren, Lila, Maggie and Max Walker, Sam Wilhelm, Donna Moore, Ross Newcomer, Casey Newcomer, Kristin and JR Ervin.
A celebration of life gathering took place in Tallahassee, Florida, March 10. Memorial services and interment will be held in Bristol at a later date. Chris will be buried alongside her husband, Glenn Brown, in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Bristol.
In lieu of flowers, those wishing to do so may send contributions to the Elkhart County Historical Museum, 304 W. Vistula St., P.O. Box 434, Bristol IN 46507.
Published on March 14, 2017